What inspires farmers and why is their job so important? Dusty Zamecnik explains:
Why did you want to be a farmer?
Plants are complex and I was always intrigued by what their full potential was by manipulating and introducing certain conditions. I love how we are able to offer them the most ideal environments and allow them the opportunity to flourish in these situations.
Can you explain what your job involves?
As strawberry propagators we are responsible for building and growing the best possible plant for our customers, both domestically and internationally. Spurred by the recognition of a need for quality strawberry plants for commercial producers all over the world, it has now turned into something where we are making large investments. My team and I are responsible for producing clean, virus-free rootstock that will eventually be used in our farms’ propagation fields for further generational expansion. These ‘daughter’ plants will then be shipped for actual berry production. Full quarantine measures are observed, unique trialing of different growing conditions where data recording is an integral part of the operation. My team and myself are excited to actively work in innovations in total plant quality.
What specific areas that you are working on?
A comprehensive area that we work on is combatting ‘pesticide resistance’ within our plants. We aim to keep our facilities as clean and closed as possible so we do not have to expose the plants to both diseases and amendments which can cause resistance buildup for further generations. In our final propagation fields, we are constantly working on both our type and timing of nutrition as well as styles of uptake. Climate is an ever-changing issue so adapting to that is a constant battle. Growing the most mature, strongest plant results in our customers having the best opportunity for success in their fields.
The better our processes are in building clean stock from our quarantine facility, we are better able to reduce the amount of pesticides applications in our fields. It is a long, grueling process taking years for the finished product but it is ultimately rewarding.
Why is your profession important in the challenge to feed the world?
As a nursery, the small steps that we take here on our local level helps optimize the amount of marketable food that each plant is able to produce for people around the world. And that sustained yield helps producers maintain economic viability. A better plant further reduces stress on our planet by requiring fewer amendment inputs.
What inspires you about your job?
What truly inspires me about what I do is that fact that I can see my work in action. These plants and their fruit will directly affect someone’s day and life. I am young, energetic and enjoy the practical applications of our work and innovations.
Dusty is a fourth-generation farmer at EZ Grow Farms in Norfolk County, Ontario. He graduated in 2013 from St. Francis Xavier University with a Bachelor of Business Administration, and is the Young Farmer Representative for the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association.