Growing Our People

In our July 2022 Blog, we speculated that agricultural trade shows were set to bounce back big time, and it looks like that’s exactly what’s happening.

Fall trade shows have been well attended and well-received. As CTV News noted, Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show returned to larger than ever crowds, reflecting an industry that has changed and is adapting to not only COVID, but global economic factors including rising inflation rates and supply chain disruptions.

One COVID-specific challenge that is tough to quantify is the social and ‘people’ cost of trade shows, conferences and seminars moving from in-person to virtual formats. For many events, 2022 was the third year of meeting digitally rather than in person. Those of us in the agri-food sector – from farmers to processors, retailers and agri-business owners – are social creatures by nature. Often, the chance to network and connect with neighbours and friends is as big a factor when deciding to attend an event as the content or theme of the event itself.

So now for some good news on that front – a group of agribusiness thought leaders are launching a first-of-its-kind in-person event. I’m hesitant to call it a conference, because it’s that and much more. The Grow Our People Summit, conceived and organized by agri-marketing pros Crystal Mackay, Mary Thorney and Brenda Trask, is being billed as the “unconference” experience – designed to connect people, in person, across the agri-food spectrum.

According to Mackay, the Summit was created specifically for the people who work in agriculture and food in Canada – to invest in them, thank them and get them energized and equipped for the future.

“While it’s clear that people are the most important asset in almost any business, they are even more critical in farming, agri-food and agri-business, “ says Mackay. “And at a time when employee engagement and motivation is at a strange post-COVID junction, we need to invest in people more than ever. That’s What Growing Our People is really all about.”

The event, which is sponsored and supported by a number of not-for-profits and leading agri-businesses, includes seminars, workshops, tours, road trips and even a couple of galas. As summit co-organizer Mary Thornley notes, “Our event is meant to be extremely hands-on. It’s not a spectator sport for sure!”

The Grow Our People Summit will be held (in person!) at the Sheraton Fallsview in Niagara Falls from November 2-4, 2022. Registration for this ‘unconference’ experience is now open at And more good news – attendees can choose the complete Summit experience – or pick and choose specific aspects that fit interests, time and budget.

Hope to see you there!

Indoor business conference


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