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Open house slated at ag research station

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The Emo Agricultural Research Station (EARS) is holding an open house next Wednesday (July 25) where people can learn about the agricultural projects and research being conducted there.

The open house starts at 7 p.m.. It will be preceded by a “Soil and Crop Tour” starting at 9:30 a.m. where people will have the chance to view various farms throughout the district.

Minister of Agriculture and Food Forage Specialist Christine O'Reilly will be travelling from Lindsay Ont. for the morning tour and open house to see what research is being conducted in the north.

Research station manager Kim Jo Bliss is glad to have the opportunity to work with the research centre and provide important information to the district's agricultural community.

“Not everyone is lucky enough to have a research station within their district so we're quite fortunate,” she said.

The Emo Agricultural Research Station runs in partnership with the University of Guelph and conducts crop research, variety testing, and crop management type trials.

Bliss said the research station is similar to a “Demonstration Farm” where they test to see what can be grown in the district's climate.

Demonstration plots can be viewed during the open house where people can learn about the ongoing initiatives to grow hops and different varieties of crops in the district.

Bliss said the hops project is very important to the research station because of the increasing interest shown for micro and craft breweries.

Local breweries in Thunder Bay and Kenora would like to access their ingredients locally so if the trials go well, she said it could be very beneficial for the district.

Based on the literature Bliss has read and based on the feedback from her agricultural contacts, she believes the hops are now doing quite well, after some initial issues earlier in the year.

Bliss hopes that through the open house people in the farming community will learn about the different varieties of crops and new crops they haven't thought about growing.

“We hope to change their idea on a variety that their growing," she explained. "And we hope that they'll try something new like oats, or maybe they'll try to grow some canola, or maybe they'll venture into soybeans.”

“Our goal here is that the farmers will take something away from this," she added. "We want our district to be successful so we hope that some of the work we're doing here is attributing to those successes on farms.”

The ag station is focusing on opening people up to the possibilities of what can be grown on their land.

Bliss said the work done at the research station takes a lot of time and energy but is very rewarding in the information they find.

“We work all year long to showcase what we are doing so I hope that people will appreciate that and come out and see what's going on here and visit Christine for her first trip in to Rainy River District,” she enthused.

The event is open to everyone and even people who aren't involved in agriculture could find it interesting, Bliss conceded.

“I know there will be other people here who are non-farmers and they enjoy getting a better understanding of what we are trying to do,” she explained.

“You drive by on the highway and you sometimes wonder, so I think it's just all around a good night to visit and share some ideas.”

Bliss encouraged those who are curious to learn more about agriculture in the district to come out to the open house for 7 p.m. with any questions they may have.

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