Brandon Hebor, a Toronto-based urban farmer who turns fish poop into farm food was one of four young Canadians to take part in the just-finished Youth Ag-Summit in Belgium.
The event was created by Bayer Crop Science to bring together young people 18 to 25 to discuss, collaborate and find agricultural solutions to food security challenges.
Hebor, 24, is a co-owner in Ripple Farms which is focused on sustainable food production using aquaponics. “In layman’s terms, we turn fish feces into farm food. Operating in 160 square feet of space, we’re able to produce food equivalent to one-quarter acre’s worth of land,” explained Hebor in a profile on the Youth Ag-Summit site.
It’s work that aligns perfectly with the mission of the Youth-Ag Summit, which is part of a larger Bayer communications platform called Agricultural Education Program that aims to raise global awareness about farming and food supplies.
“We can grow a range of plants and produce, but our mission goes beyond this—we want to educate and engage urban populations with where their food comes from, and encourage people to think locally when it comes to food production and food security,” said Hebor.
This was the third iteration of Youth Ag after launching in Calgary in 2013 and moving to Canberra, Australia in 2015. The conference this year had the theme “Feeding a Hungry Planet,” and was partly structured around addressing UN Sustainability Goals of ending hunger, achieving food security and promoting sustainable agriculture.
During the summit the delegates took part in a team-based challenge to come up with solutions to issues related to United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of gender equality, quality education, and responsible consumption and production.
Three winning ideas received additional funding from Bayer.
A cartoon campaign to promote “ugly fruits”—blemished but still good quality fruits—to children, came in third and will receive €3,000; an education program to promote agriculture in schools came in second and will receive €5,000; while the top prize of €10,000 was awarded to an idea for a platform that would be used to encourage and support women in the Kenyan agriculture sector.
The other three Canadian delegates were Cassandra Hayward, 19, from Halifax, Nova Scotia, a student, double majoring in Sustainable Development and Political Science; Cameron Olson, 24, from Rocky View, Alberta, is taking his master’s degree in animal science at Texas A&M University; and Alexis Wagner, 24, from St. John’s, Newfoundland, who just completed a master’s degree in environmental policy from the University of Cambridge in England, focused on agricultural supply chain sustainability.