royal winter fair logoThink agri-food means only farming? Think again.

Growing food in space and in Canada’s harsh North. Turning plants into car parts and sustainable packaging. Designing drones to monitor crop pests and disease and to ensure smarter use of pesticides. Ensuring safe, nutritious food for Ontario’s consumers.

These are among numerous innovative research projects and career prospects to be highlighted beginning this fall by the University of Guelph under a new five-year agreement making U of G a foundational partner of the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair (RAWF) in Toronto, it was announced this week.

This November, U of G will mount a specially designed 2,700-square-foot exhibit space at the “Royal” about agri-food research and careers in collaboration with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. 

The University will also become the presenting sponsor of the fair’s Educators’ Symposium, taking place Nov. 9. The symposium is intended to showcase careers in food and agriculture, including wide-ranging opportunities beyond farming alone.

This year’s Royal opens Nov. 2 at Exhibition Place in Toronto.

“The University of Guelph is Canada’s food university and one of the top comprehensive universities in the country,” said Daniel Atlin, U of G vice-president (external). “Our innovations and discoveries are helping Canada become a global leader in safe, nutritious and sustainable food. The Royal is an ideal venue for U of G to showcase how we are helping sustainably feed and support a growing world population and training the agri-food leaders of tomorrow.”

The University’s display will highlight research and applications in agri-food, the environment and health, including samples of bioproducts, demonstrations of aquaponics and LED lights used in sophisticated plant growth chambers, and virtual reality tours of U of G’s state-of-the-art dairy research facility in Elora, Ont.

The educators’ symposium will discuss job and career prospects in Ontario agri-food. A report commissioned last fall by U of G’s Ontario Agricultural College found that four jobs exist in the province’s agri-food sector for every OAC grad. In that report, employers predicted even more job growth over the next five years, ranging from food processing to finance to government agencies.

“Education has been a core element of the Royal’s mandate since our first fair in 1922,” says Charlie Johnstone, chief executive officer of the Royal. “With this agreement, we are perfectly positioned to fulfill this mandate better than ever before.

Added Johnstone, “We’re thrilled to have the University of Guelph on board as a Royal partner. The quality and sustainability of the food we eat has become a hot button for Canadian consumers, and the University has earned global renown for its work in this sector. With this agreement, the Royal will become a showcase for the innovation and agri-food leadership we have come to expect from the University of Guelph.”