Winter Work @FarmingSmarter

I think even farmers expect work life to settle down when the winter winds blow, but it really doesn’t!

Over at the Farming Smarter research farm, it seems to get busier and, with the growth of the organization in recent years, it was time to institute Monday morning check ins.

The crew uses Microsoft Team and that enables everyone to tune in from wherever they may be at meeting time. It works well and we keep each other in the loop of all the activities everyone has on the go.

The week of Dec. 6

A lot of the senior staff have their heads down at computers compiling the growing season data from all the trials. Gurbir Dhillion, Mike Gretzinger, Trevor Deering and Lewis Baarda all have enough data to mimic the opening scene of the matrix. Matrices are what they’re building for clients and grant reports.

Shelly Barclay gets involved a little with the grant reporting side for research projects, but her focus is human resources and partner/subscriber relations. She has her own grants for student contracts and keeps all the financial workings of Farming Smarter in meticulous detail.

The other task keeping permanent staff busy is grant writing for 2022 and beyond. This year, we’re working on the Living Lab grant application and it’s a biggie.

Ken Coles, Gurbir and Jamie Puchinger lead the effort. It requires a great deal of relationship building with federal scientists, indigenous nations, special interest groups, grower groups and our more usual connections with the agriculture industry in southern Alberta.

Communicating our work

Jamie is also working with Sean Kjos to finalize all the preparations for the Dec. 15 Global Crop Production virtual conference. Jamie needs to get CCA credits approved for the conference. Sean joined Farming Smarter as a communication intern through a practicum placement last spring. He’s been keeping information flowing through the website and enews for the past few months.

Speaking of the website, Jamie and Claudette Lacombe began a redesign of the website last spring. Spring isn’t a great time to begin a project like the website because priorities for everyone move outside at that time. Now that everyone has time indoors, that project should launch a new website in early 2022.

Claudette also launched Farming Smarter’s first ever fundraising campaign. It’s a small, targeted campaign in southern Alberta. If you don’t get a postcard asking if you’ll support us, don’t feel left out just visit our donation page and show us some love!

Claudette also has a communication plan to write for the Living Labs grant and board minutes to finalize and send to the Directors to make sure she captured everything at the Board meeting last week. The Board of Directors held a regular meeting last week. These meetings ensure the Board oversight of our progress on our 2021 goals as laid out in the strategic plan.

Keeping the place running

Out in the shop, Sara Gateman, Brendan Roy, Toby Mandel and Carlo Van Herk are busy processing samples from the trials and entering data for Mike, Trevor and Lewis. They are also giving all the equipment a once over and making any necessary repairs. It’s fair to say all hands are busy at Farming Smarter. The devil