Man. college to add fruit, veg research program

A new horticulture program at southwestern Manitoba’s Assiniboine Community College will get public funding to restore an orchard for use in applied research work.

The federal and Manitoba governments on Friday announced $318,000 over three years for an applied research program in horticulture production, primarily greenhouse fruit and vegetable crops, to operate at ACC’s First Street North campus in Brandon.

The initial part of the project will be to set up a fruit crop demonstration/teaching orchard for crop trials, said Jack Moes, the college’s associate vice-president for applied research.

The ACC campus, in its previous incarnation as the Brandon Mental Health Centre, included a working orchard, and instructors and students in the new program will work to re-establish it, the college said in a release.

The horticultural production program will be “hands-on” and will be linked with the college’s Culinary Arts program “to create a model of learning that reflects a current industry trend of ‘field to fork,'” ACC said.

The research program is also expected to back ACC’s expansion of agricultural training, which for the first time this September will include a one-year certificate program in Horticultural Production, through the college’s School of Business, Agriculture and Environment.

“Our continued financial support has helped ACC provide educational and economic benefits for Manitobans as we further develop resources and expertise in the fruit and vegetable crops best suited to our unique climate, soil and market demands,” provincial Agriculture Minister Stan Struthers said in ACC’s release.

“These crops are also important links in the produce and food processing value-chain that supports our farm families and their communities.”

Local MP Merv Tweed added that the funding, flowing through the federal/provincial Advancing Agri-Innovation Program, “will help staff the growing need for trained personnel in the field of horticulture and will help create new opportunities in the industry.”

The Advancing Agri-Innovation Program is meant to back partnerships among value chain participants to “build the province’s capacity for innovation,” including capital projects that “improve the province’s physical climate for innovation.”

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