Rural Roundup — May 11, 2023
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A Brandon architect has transformed the Municipality of Killarney-Turtle Mountain’s old civic offices into a more modern premises.
Michael Cox was commissioned to design a renovation plan for the offices, which were built in the 1960s, and completed his work in time for a grand opening on April 17.
This first phase of the $2-million development plan saw the old fire hall section of the civic buildings. Phil Neufeld of Westman Specialty Contracting was the contractor in charge of the project.
The second phase of the project, renovating the original civic offices, will begin this month and completed by fall.
Access to the new civic offices will be through an automatic front door near where the firetrucks once drove in. Everything will be wheelchair accessible, on one level, with a public washroom inside the entry vestibule.
“We pay more attention now to accessibility, especially with washrooms,” Cox said. “It’s large enough for seniors in wheelchairs, and for kids in strollers. It’s central to the notion of catering to disabilities. We’re all just temporarily abled.”
The interior of the new offices contains three work stations for staff and a main front desk area for an administrative assistant. There are two filing areas to the back and a number of offices, plus an area for lunch breaks.
» The Guide
Married couple David and Caitlin Beer from San Clara have created a business around making nature’s abundance of wild mushrooms available to the public.
David Beer, a Métis man who grew up on a small organic farm east of Roblin, said some of his favourite memories are of harvesting wild berries, herbs and mushrooms with his family.
Beer left home to work in Alberta when he was 18, and seven years later he moved to B.C.
“I was amazed to find a huge selection of wild harvested produce at a lot of farmers’ markets and grocery stores,” he said. “That’s what inspired me to start my business.”
After four years of working in landscape construction, he met his wife, and was surprised that she was also very interested in a wild food business idea.
Growing up in Calgary, Caitlin Beer always enjoyed spending time at her aunt’s farm, riding horses and playing in the forest. She attended Olds College, where she got her Red Seal in horticulture, and later moved to B.C. to work in landscape design and construction.
In 2018, the couple decided to quit their jobs and move to Manitoba to start Wildland Foods.
“We thought it would be amazing to be able to offer unique, wild produce to people in Manitoba and make it accessible to individuals like it is in B.C.,” David Beer said.
Although selling wild mushrooms at farmers’ markets is not permissible in Manitoba, the Beers have worked with provincial officials to offer their products in their online store, wildlandfoods.com. The store features a wide variety of dried wild mushrooms, herbs and more. The products are dehydrated for peak freshness.
Most of the Beers’ products are wild-harvested, but they do have some they cultivate and harvest on their own property, such as wild mint and fiddleheads. They are also in the beginning stages of establishing a wapato plantation.
Some of the Beers’ products are also available at select stores throughout the Parkland region, including Buffalo Junction south of Benito, Baba’s Corner Store in Ethelbert and Old September in Gilbert Plains.
» Russell Banner/Roblin Review
Durban-area livestock farmer Jodi Suchoplas has come up with a basic but efficient tool to make castrating calves easier and more fool-proof.
TestiGrip is a plastic tool designed to help hold bison testicles in place when using an elastrator for castration. The tool that Suchoplas invented helps improve speed and accuracy during the castration process.
“As a cattle farmer, I know how difficult it can be to get a calf tagged and castrated quickly while you have an aggressive cow trying to get to her calf. I wanted to create a tool to help with the process of castration,” she said.
The tool speeds up the process but also makes sure castration is done properly. With a faster application of the elastic, it also means less stress for the calf and a quicker release back to its mother.
While the TestiGrip has helped Suchoplas and her own family on their farm, she developed it commercially so she can help other farmers as well.
“Calving season is very demanding of your time and physically draining,” Suchoplas said. “This tool helps speed up and simplify the castration process.”
Suchoplas spent a few years testing different prototypes on her farm, adjusting the size to make sure the tool would perform correctly. TestiGrip is made out of high-quality plastic, durable and bright orange for visibility. Suchoplas is currently working on a smaller version of the tool for use in castrating sheep.
The most difficult part of development so far has been the patent process and bringing the TestiGrip to market, Suchoplas said. The entire process, including trademarking the name of the product, took about two years.
» Russell Banner/Roblin Review
There’s been no shortage of demands for the greens grown at Barefoot Farms, a commercial hydroponics operation run by Dale and Ainslie Mohr in Minitonas.
Their business got off the ground last year when the national lettuce supply caused the price of the product to skyrocket or disappear from grocery store shelves.
The leafy greens grown in the Mohrs 1,200-square-foot greenhouse mean that people who live nearby or who are willing to make the trek to Minitonas have access to the freshest lettuce money can buy all year long.
“Everybody loves it and we’re selling out,” Dale Mohr said. “We’re not even delivering to anybody right now. When people hear about us, they come and then they come again.”
The Mohrs have joined the Canadian Hydroponics Association, a group of smaller producers across Canada who grow their produce using hydroponics — growing plants using a water-based nutrient solution rather than with soil.
Barefoot Farms is located one mile west of downtown Minitonas, and is open daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., closed on Tuesdays.
» Russell Banner/Roblin Review
Virden-area resident Donna O’Dell is highlighting how the Manitoba Farmer Wellness program, which has been in existence for just over a year, is helping farmers across the province.
Funded by farmers and farm-focused, the program assists producers and their families who are struggling with mental health at any stage of their journey, offering six free, hour-long, one-on-one sessions with counsellors who have a background in agriculture.
O’Dell first got involved with the program in May 2022 when the organization was looking for new board members. She offers insight as a farm partner and producer in the agricultural industry, and has also made no secret of the fact that she has struggled with her own mental health over the years.
Mental health has many faces, said O’Dell, who sought help when her daughter was born 35 years ago. Her postpartum depression is what made her reach out for help.
“I remember the stigma,” O’Dell said. “It’s a tough one to beat.”
Odell had been looking for volunteer opportunities, and Manitoba Farmer Wellness proved to be a perfect fit.
“I fill the role of average lay person farm spouse,” she said.
With access to the right help, O’Dell said she is now doing better than ever, and encourages others to reach out for help and to not be ashamed. Being involved with Manitoba Farmer Wellness has been a way for her to share her story and help the agricultural community.
For more information, visit manitobafarmerwellness.ca.
» Virden Empire-Advance
The Valley Life Housing Group have given presentations in Minnedosa to discuss creating an assisted living facility in the community.
Held last month, the presentations looked at how the non-profit organization — a strategic community effort by the municipalities of Harrison Park, Minto Odanah, Oakview, Rosedale, Clanwilliam-Erickson and the Town of Minnedosa — wishes to address the community’s rapidly changing demographics. The broad focus of the organization is to enhance housing, social, economic and community services in the member municipalities.
Valley Life Housing Group had issued a survey asking about seniors’ assisted living housing, such as which types of amenities are important, price points, which kind of assistance should be offered and more.
According to preliminary discussions, an ideal facility would accommodate around 30 to 50 units, congregate dining and recreation facilities. The group plans to look at all the feedback closely and then meet again to provide the community with an overview of its finding sand next steps for the project, including looking at the cost of construction, upkeep and operation of such a facility.
» Minnedosa Tribune
The Minnedosa District Museum and Heritage Village is one of 30 recipients across the province who received assistance from the Community Museum Project Support Program for this year.
Through this support, the museum was granted $5,040 after the Manitoba government allocated $240,000 to help non-profit community museums.
The Community Museum Project Support Program supports one-time initiatives and/or unique opportunities to advance reconciliation, equity, diversity, accessibility, including and COVID-19 recovery or collections management. Recipients receive up to 100 per cent of project costs, with a ceiling of $25,000 maximum.
Qualifying grant criteria includes non-profit community museums dedicated to conserving, preserving and interepreting their collections, and for public appreciation and education.
» Minnedosa Tribune