As a world leader in agriculture and food expertise, the University of Guelph has played a significant role in the annual Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto. U of G remains front and centre this year, even as the 98th edition of the fair will be held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Running Nov. 10-14 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., the Royal Agricultural Virtual Experience  will present the event’s four pillars – equestrian, agriculture, culinary and education – via laptop, tablet, smart phone or desktop.

“It would have been so disappointing to see a longstanding, highly anticipated annual event like the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair be outright cancelled,” said Claire Alexander, special projects manager in U of G’s Office of Ceremonies and Events. “I am really pleased we are able to join them in hosting a virtual experience for visitors. It is a great opportunity for the University to continue to highlight the exciting research, study and career opportunities in the agri-food sector.”

Professor von Massow in a grocery aisle
Prof. Mike von Massow

U of G will showcase innovative research and careers in agriculture and food in its “A Place to Grow” exhibit.

The University will host the Royal Education Symposium beginning Thursday, Nov. 12 at 10 a.m. Called “Your Pathway to a Future in Food,” the symposium is for high school students, guidance counsellors and career studies teachers. It will feature a keynote address by Prof. Mike von Massow, Department of Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics, and a live panel of alumni experts from the food sector. The afternoon session will focus on future skills needed in agriculture.

Also on Nov. 12 at 11:15 a.m., the University will host a session on reducing food waste. Led by human health and nutritional science master’s student Nicholas Carroll, with a food demonstration by post-doctoral researcher Maude Perreault, the session will identify key economic, environmental and nutritional impacts of household food waste.

Maude Perreault, post-doctoral researcher

U of G will also host Plants, and Animals, and Humans, Oh My!, a panel discussion focused on what One Health is and the influence it will have on future careers. It happens on Wednesday, Nov. 11 from 4:45 to 5:45 p.m.

The panel will be made up of Ontario Veterinary College alumna Dr. Deb Stark, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre microbiologist Dr. Samira Mubareka, OVC Prof. Heather Murphy, Pathobiology, and Prof. Travis Steffens, Sociology and Anthropology.

One Health recognizes that we can improve life by understanding that the health of animals, humans, and the environment depend on one another. It aims bring people from many sectors and fields together to create solutions that improve health in all three areas.

headshot of Derek Vella
Derek Vella, Guelph Food Innovation Centre

Online visitors will be able to “enter” a Royal pavilion with virtual sponsor booths. Seven booths in U of G’s “A Place to Grow” will feature themes such as healthy animals and productive farms, a secure and healthy food supply, and soil health.

Led by U of G’s Dana McCauley, associate director of New Venture Creation, a  live speaker session called “Front Burner” will feature Derek Vella, chef and director of U of G’s Guelph Food Innovation Centre, on Nov. 10, 10 a.m. This session is intended for anyone thinking about a career in food business or curious about how food products are made and marketed. Learn more at the fair’s live content page.

Register for the Royal Agricultural Virtual Experience.