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U of G graduate heading to 2017 Youth Ag Summit

Four Canadian youths under 25 years old will travel to Belgium in October

By Diego Flammini
Assistant Editor, North American Content

One hundred of the future’s brightest agricultural minds will converge in Brussels, Belgium from October 9 to 14 to participate in the 2017 Youth Ag Summit.

Representatives from 49 countries will take part in themed discussions of “Feeding a Hungry Planet” and address the United Nations’ 17 Sustainability Goals. Participants range from 18 to 25 years old.

Cassandra Hayward of Nova Scotia, Brandon Hebor from Toronto, Cameron Olson from Alberta and Alexis Wagner from Newfoundland and Labrador will represent Canada. caught up with Wagner, a biological and food engineering graduate from the University of Guelph. She’s currently pursuing her Master’s Degree in Environmental Policy from the University of Cambridge in England.

She is also the head brewer at Mill Street Brewery in St. John’s, Newfoundland. (Farms): What inspired you to think about participating in the Youth Ag Summit?

Alexis Wagner (AW): As someone who works very closely with products from Canadian farms, I’ve seen first-hand how differences in climate and weather can change the specifications in the grain we use. I had the chance to go to China and realized some of the issues (the country) had with its production was related to challenges with their grain supply from France.

It was there I realized how interconnected the global supply of grain was and how much of an impact it has on large corporations.

Farms: A big term in agri-food is sustainability. What is an important element to ensure sustainability?

AW: For me, one word that comes to mind is ‘diversification.’ When I’m thinking about food supply, I’m actually thinking about the supply chain that goes into food production.

I think there’s a huge link between sustainability and diversification, whether that means people are more educated on how to use a diverse array of foods from different streams or diversity in what farmers are able to produce.

Alexis Wagner

Farms: Part of the application process included writing an essay about the UN’s Sustainability Goals. What did your entry include?

AW: My essay focused on Goal 12, which is ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns. My essay (discussed) changes consumers and the food industry can make, including how food waste is an important issue at the consumer level.

Farms: What do you hope to contribute to the summit?

AW: I think, since the summit is for youths, I can bring the perspective of the industrial side of food production and the understanding that reducing waste is easier said than done when some production plants have a lot of capital invested in their current procedures.

More information can be found on the summit’s website or by following @YouthAgSummit on Twitter.

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