Springfree Trampoline Kids Jumping 2

Safely Jumping Our Way Into Summer With Springfree Trampoline Canada!

For years our children have begged us to get them a trampoline and their wish has finally come true. Thanks to the fine folks at Springfree Trampoline Canada, we are now the proud owners of their Large Oval trampoline and it has been battle-tested multiple times a day for the last two weeks!

What I love most about Springfree Trampoline is that they have gone out of their way to build the safest trampoline on the market. Take a look at these safety features:

No Springs – Springfree uses flexible composite rods instead of metal springs, eliminating pinch points that could trap feet and toes.
Flexible Safety Enclosure – cushions falls and places the jumpers back on the jumping surface.
SoftEdge™ Mat – Springfree has created a shock absorbent SoftEdge™ mat that eliminates any hard edges at the jumping surface and will absorb 30 times more impact than traditional padding.
Hidden Frame – Springfree Trampoline has a fame located well beneath the jumping surface where jumpers can’t hit it.
tgoma Game System – encourages one-at-a-time play that eliminates injuries associated with multiple jumpers. I’ll be talking more about this as the summer rolls on!

Outside of the obvious safety measures, the most refreshing part of having the trampoline is that the kids never want to sit around the house being lazy anymore. We had gotten into a rhythm lately of waking up in the mornings and spacing out in front of the television for an hour or so before going to school. Now the kids are up and jumping in their pyjamas before I can even remind them to brush their teeth!

Springfree Trampoline Kids Jumping 1

It’s truly been amazing to see how active this 13×8 contraption has made them and as a parent who’s children don’t like going to bed, the Springfree trampoline has been a lifesaver at getting them tired in the evenings. Daddy has even tried it out a few times but is getting dangerously close to the weight limit, if you know what I mean… Hopefully the trampoline will help shed a few of those extra pounds!

I’m also excited to announce that as a special offer just for you guys, if you order a trampoline from the Springfree Trampoline Canada website, you can use code SpringInto150YYZ4 to get a tgoma game system (RV $399.00) absolutely free! My next blog post will cover the tgoma game system and I know you are going to love having it with your trampoline!

I leave you with this video describing why the Springfree Trampoline costs more than traditional trampolines and you’ll see why it’s the safest choice out there today.

Disclosure: I was provided a Springfree Trampoline in exchange for my participation in this program.

City Ottawa Marketing Kids

Marketing To Children And What You Need To Know About It

It’s no secret that companies have been marketing to children for a long time. Television commercials, billboards and magazine print ads have long promoted unhealthy food and beverage choices for our children, making it hard to keep a lifestyle on track.

In fact, did you know that children view four to five food and beverage ads per hour. When you consider children watch on average two hours of television a day – the number of food and beverage ads viewed by our children adds up.

How are children and youth vulnerable to marketing?

Did You Know Ottawa Marketing Kids

Children believe what they see, especially at the younger ages. I’m going to warn you in advance that the following stats are a bit staggering.

• Before the age of five, most children can’t tell the difference between and ad and a television show. Marketers are getting smarter and making the commercials look more like tv shows.
• Before the age of eight, children are unlikely to know the reasons behind marketing.
• By the age of ten to twelve, children know that ads sell products, but they are often unable to judge an ad. Of all forms of marketing, youth in particular are vulnerable to digital marketing. It is viewed as entertainment, grabbing their focus and attention.
• Healthy habits start in childhood. Children learn about nutrition through the marketing of food and beverages. Unhealthy eating over the course of time is linked to multiple diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and stroke.
Marketing influences foods that children eat and that they ask their parents to buy. Marketing can influence kids to eat unhealthy foods. It also makes unhealthy foods seem “normal.”

Healthy Eating

When you add in the fact that a lot of our kids are watching YouTube on their iPads and computers nowadays, there is more reason than ever to be worried about the type of marketing they are being fed. Understanding that the state of marketing to our children is clearly a problem that needs to be looked at, here is what is being done in Canada and around the globe to help.

In Canada…
• The Canadian Federal government has committed to “introducing new restrictions on the commercial marketing of unhealthy food and beverages”.* Work has begun on improving food labels, reducing salt and eliminating trans-fats.
• Senator Nancy Greene Raine presented an Act to prohibit direct food and beverage marketing to children 13 and under. Specific instruction on labelling, packaging and advertising directed at children would also apply.
• Quebec is the only province to have banned commercial advertisement directed at children under 13. Results show that Quebec is the highest consumer of fruits and vegetables and has the lowest obesity rates for six to eleven year olds since making this change. Experts note that Quebec “has reduced fast food consumption by $88 million a year.”

Around the world…
• In 1991, Sweden banned ads to children 12 and under and banned mail ads for children younger than 16.
• In 1992, Norway banned television ads for children under 16 and banned all ads that could be seen to exploit the vulnerabilities of children.
• In the UK in 2006, ads for products high in fat, sugar and salt found in television shows for children ages four to 15 were banned.
• In 2011, the Spanish Parliament approved a law on Nutrition and Food Safety, which stated that kindergartens and schools should be free from advertising.
• In 2014, Brazil determined all ads directed at children under 12 to be “abusive”.
• In 2014, Mexico restricted television marketing to children and in movie theaters during the afternoon and weekends.

In short, the world is starting to take notice and has been taking steps to help protect our children from the marketing of unhealthy food and beverages. Now it’s your turn to share your thoughts on the subject.

What Can You Do To Help? Have Your Say!

Ottawa Public Health wants your opinion about marketing of food and beverages to children and youth. Complete this brief online survey to tell them what you think.

To be eligible, you need to be 16 years of age or older and live in the City of Ottawa. By completing the survey, you will help them better understand what people in the City of Ottawa think about marketing to children and youth. They are also accepting written briefs or submissions by email or mail. Please send your written response to: m2cy@ottawa.ca or contact name 100 Constellation drive, ON K2G 6K8.

*Disclosure: I was compensated for my participation in this program*

Summer Canonball

Summer Is Here & It’s Time To Get Outside!

“This post is sponsored by Bayer. To make sure these products are right for you, always read and follow the label.”

In the age of electronics, we’ve been pretty lucky when it comes to making sure our kids get enough outdoor time. Both kids ended up loving sports, which keeps them outside from morning until night and makes this dad a happy camper. I figure if the only downside to this is that they sometimes don’t want to come inside, that’s a trade-off I’ll take.

While we aren’t much of a classic outdoors family, with the camping and hiking and whatnot, we love spending time outside together. With that said, here are a few of our favourite summertime activities!

1. Baseball

Baseball Kid

I can’t tell you how happy I was when my son decided he wanted to try baseball as one of his activities. I played competitive fastball my entire youth and while I purposefully didn’t push my son into it, I’m excited that he discovered a love for it on his own. That means I get to coach, which also means I’m using muscles I hadn’t used in a looooong time. Luckily for me, I have discovered ALEVE® Back & Body Pain, because I’m not sure how else I’d be able to get through running up and down the baselines for 5 tournament games in one weekend!

2. Soccer

Girls soccer

While my son chose a sport I was familiar with, my daughter has gone in the opposite direction. As if 16 hours of gymnastics a week wasn’t enough, she also decided to excel at soccer. I will admit that when I was a kid the baseball kids were trained to dislike soccer, I really love watching her fly up and down the field like a bolt of lightning. It’s also kind of nice to not know anything about a sport because I can pay more attention to my daughter and worry less about the rules.

3. Glamping

KOA Family Cabin Camping

I mentioned earlier that we are not a campaign family, but that doesn’t mean we don’t hit a campground for the weekend on occasion. In our case, however, we choose to book a cabin at nearby KOAs so it feels like we are camping without the uncomfortable feeling of a deflated mattress at 2am! The only real downside to this is that my wife is an allergy sufferer and occasionally needs to pop one of her Claritin® Allergy tablets to get through the day’s events, but then we are back on track!

4. Water Fights

KOA Ivy Lea Wet Wagon Ride

Whether it’s just us with water balloons or the entire neighbourhood with water guns, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love a good water fight! That is, as long as the people getting soaked know that they are in said water battle…

5. Trampolining

Trampoline Kid

We are officially a trampoline family now and I have never seen the kids want to be outside more in their lives. Seriously, they wake up and before I can remind them to brush their teeth they are outside jumping in their PJs. Even on the hottest days of summer so far they are out there, jumping and melting in the hot sun. You can imagine how eager they are to stop jumping to come and get their sunscreen on… Luckily we found the Coppertone® Sport Sunscreen Continuous Spray SPF 30 which not only gets them back on the trampoline in minutes but also handles the sweat with ease and holds its SPF for at least 80 minutes of activity.

There’s so much more we love to do in the summer but this covers the major items on our yearly checklist! How about you? I’d love to hear what your favourite summer activities are, so feel free to go ahead and leave them in the comment section!

Here’s some more information on the products I touched on in today’s story!

Get Outside Bayer

Coppertone Sport®
– Coppertone® Sport Sunscreen Continuous Spray SPF 30 provides broad spectrum protection against UVA/UVB rays in a new light and breathable formula.
– Water and sweat resistant so it won’t run into eyes and sting.
– This spray form provides quick and even application, no pumping required.
– Specially formulated for active adults this spray stays on strong when you sweat
– water resistant.
– Retains SPF after 80 minutes of activity in the water or sweating.
– Dermatologist tested.
– For more information: https://www.coppertone.ca/en/products/sport/sport/spray/

Claritin
– Claritin® – Allergy provides effective, non-drowsy 24-hour relief with just one pill
– Allergens can include pollen, trees, ragweed, grass, dust, pets and moulds
– 24h symptom relief of itchy, watery eyes, sneezing, runny nose, skin itch, hives
– For more information: https://www.claritin.ca/en/products/allergy/

ALEVE® Back & Body Pain
– ALEVE® Back & Body Pain is an over-the-counter pain reliever indicated to quickly and effectively relieve pain such as body pain, muscular pain, muscle sprains and strains, backache, minor aches, headaches and migraine pain.
– ALEVE® Back & Body Pain is clinically proven to last up to 12 hours with just one pill
– The active ingredient in ALEVE® Back & Body Pain is Naproxen Sodium
For more information: http://www.aleve.ca/en/Product_Info.php

“This post is sponsored by Bayer. To make sure these products are right for you, always read and follow the label.”

Team UA Next Ambassadors

Under Armour & Sport Chek Are Looking For The 2018 Team UA NEXT Canadian Youth Ambassadors!

This month marks the launch of the 2nd annual Team UA NEXT Canada Powered by Sport Chek campaign, as it sets out to find the NEXT generation of Under Armour athletes! All 7 to 12 year-old hard-working athletes are eligible to compete to become the face of Under Armour in a brand campaign at Sport Chek stores across Canada.

When I showed this to my kids they both immediately begged me to start shooting video so they could enter the contest. After about an hour of filming for just one of my children I would like to suggest to Under Armour and Sport Chek that they also look for the Team UA NEXT Dad Ambassadors for next year, haha. I’m kidding, I love how passionate they were about having their entry videos look just right!

The winning boy and girl will join the elite roster of Under Armour athletes and serve as a youth ambassador for the brand. In addition to being featured in the brand campaign, winners will receive exclusive access to Under Armour gear. Parents, guardians, mentors and coaches have until August 31, 2017 to nominate a young athlete online at TeamUAnext.ca.

You simply have to submit videos throughout the summer showing your kids’ passion and athleticism to make a compelling case for why they should the next Under Armour athlete. “Last year hundreds of talented young athletes from coast to coast showed us how they hustle, persevere, and compete and we are excited to see who will tryout this year,” said Shana Ferguson, Marketing Director, Under Armour Canada.

The current Team UA NEXT Canada Powered by Sport Chek campaign features twelve-year-olds Brenden McLeod of Newmarket and Maya Rajhans of Etobicoke. Brenden is a hockey and lacrosse player and Maya is a basketball and soccer player. They were chosen because they had the right mix of determination, passion, teamwork, and WILL. Here is a promo video showing Brenden and Maya as Team UA NEXT ambassadors.

I know my kids are pumped to start making videos and I hope you’ll join in as well! For more information on TEAM UA NEXT Canada powered by Sport Chek, or to submit a nomination, visit TeamUAnext.ca. You can follow along and share at the @UnderArmourNext Instagram page as well. Also check out Sport Chek on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, as well as Under Armour on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using #TAKEYOURSPOT and #UANEXTCANADA.

Disclosure: I was compensated for my participation in this campaign.

Star Wars Prize Pack Fathers Day

My Top 7 “I Am Your Father” Moments {Plus Giveaway!}

Star Wars has provided me with so much joy over the years, with no line being repeated more than the classic Darth Vader shocker, “Luke, I am your father”. To celebrate the upcoming Father’s Day celebrations, I thought I would share my Top 7 “I am your father” moments! Here we go:

7. That time I told the kids to clear their plates after lunch but they forgot and then went to play outside with their friends and then found the same old half-eaten food on their plates for dinner.

6. When the kids were supposed to shower but defiantly avoided it, so I pretended the shower was broken for a week so they could be the smelly kids at school. Lessons learned.

5. When my son threatened to run away because I wouldn’t let him play on his iPad for an extra half hour and then called his bluff by letting him put his shoes on and walking all the way down the street, only to have him realize it was a bad idea and quickly run back home.

4. The day I became the “Worst Dad Ever” for not buying the toy my kid wanted, 5 minutes before their best friend invited them over for a playdate that they needed a ride to.

3. When I told the kids to bring their toys in from outside in case it rained because I wouldn’t replace them, only to have it rain on their not brought in toys, ruining them for good.

2. When my kids found out they loved sports, so my wife and I took on extra jobs to help pay for the costs of competitive sports fees because we want the kids to have the opportunity to explore their full potentials.

1. The day I realized that I get to wake up and experience something new and amazing with these kids every single day and loving every second of it regardless of whether it’s good or bad.

As you can see, for better or worse, there are plenty of “I am your father” moments throughout the days and I absolutely wouldn’t have it any other way. Speaking of that, check out this amazing Happy ‘I Am Your Father’s Day’ video made especially for the Star Wars fans out there!

How cool was that?! Now I want to hear some of your “I am your father” moments, whether they’re happy, funny or other, and I have a great Star Wars prize pack to give away to help make your Father’s Day that much more special! All you have to do to enter is using the Rafflecopter form below and I’ll pick a winner in a few days.

Good Luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I was compensated for my participation in this program, but I really am a father…

Subway Panini Delicious

Try The New Subway® Canada Panini On Me!

I mentioned a couple weeks ago that Subway® Canada had unveiled their newest creation, paninis! I took my job of taste-testing very seriously and have now tried each panini multiple times, sometimes fitting in multiple testings in a single day. Now that I have compiled my very scientific research, I am ready to tell you which panini is the one you absolutely must have.

Here we go. Are you ready? The one panini that stands above all others and the only one that is right for you is….well, the results were actually inconclusive. You see, after falling in love at first bite with the Italian B.M.T. Melt panini, I ate it 3 straight times, ignoring the other paninis. When I finally decided to change it up, I went for the Chipotle Steak & Cheese panini and fell in love with that one, too. I’m guessing you can look ahead to where this story is headed…

Subway Panini Kids

Cute picture of my kids for no good reason!

The best panini for you will depend on the kind of day you are having. Maybe you’re feeling extra sophisticated on a certain day and decide to go with the Chicken Cordon Bleu panini. Consequently, maybe you are addicted to cheese, in which case you’d probably want to go all in with the Triple Cheese panini. All this to say that there is no one-size fits all choice when it comes to the new Subway® Canada paninis because they are all great in their own way.

I understand that some of you may be skeptical because change can be difficult, so I’m giving away a $25 Subway® Canada gift card to one lucky winner, and I’ve also been handing out Subway® Canada gift cards to random folks who have been active on my Facebook and Twitter pages! To win the prize all you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form below and I’ll choose a winner in a few days!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck and make sure you let me know what you thought of the all-new Subway® Canada panini experience!

Disclosure: I was compensated for my participation in this program.

Dad Baby Hugs

My Top 6 Favourite Types of Hugs From The Kids

One of the benefits to running a dad blog is that I often get approached by companies who give me great ideas for posts that I wouldn’t have normally thought of on my own. This week I was contacted by Huggies who asked me to talk about the benefits of skin-to-skin hugs and how expecting parents can plan for their first skin-to-skin moments using the Hug Plan!

As you will see in a moment, I am definitely a big fan of hugs but not just for my own benefit. Research has shown that there are many benefits of skin-to-skin hugs provided specifically by dads for their babies. Some of those benefits include:

– Temperature control
– Better infant behavioural responses
– Improved bio-psychological markers
– Better interaction behaviour of fathers with their infants
– Reduced stress and anxiety experienced by fathers

As someone who might be classified as “a hugger” I was excited to read some of the research Huggies provided me with, especially because it was specific to the benefits of hugs between fathers and their children. I know what you’re thinking, “but Chris, you don’t have babies anymore!”, and while that may be true, I don’t want to live in a world where there are no hugs. That said, take a look at a few of my favourite types of kid hugs, in no particular order.

1. The After Work Hug – This hug is also commonly known as the “just got in from a business trip” hug and is one of my very favourites. It begins with my kids moving as far away from me as possible before running towards me at top speed and leaping into my arms as we spin around in circles. This is the kind of hug that lets you know just how loved you are and I look forward to it every time!

2. The Sneak Attack Hug – I usually pull this one off during one of our many wrestling matches, usually when the kids think they are about to finally beat me for once. They think I am putting them in an unbreakable hold but really I am just trying to sneak in some extra hug time.

3. The Morning Snuggle Hug – In the #1 spot on my list of all-time favourite hugs is the morning snuggle. This occurs when the kids roll out of bed and slowly make their way to wherever you are located, then crawl into your arms without saying a word. The only downside to this hug is that you know it has to end at some point.

4. The “Everything Will Be Alright” Hug – There is something very powerful in knowing that your hug can somehow help your child feel better when they are hurt or having a bad day. No parent wants their child to go through hard times but there is a comfort in knowing that you’ll always be there.

5. The “I’m Getting Too Old To Hug My Parents” Hug – I like to call this one the lean and turn. This is mostly used by my kids at school drop off or when they are anywhere near anyone who might see them. It involves their arms at their sides as they press their head against my shoulder while simultaneously turning away from me. I could get frustrated by this but I figure they are still technically hugging me so it’s better than nothing!

6. The “Thank You For Buying Me That Thing I Really Want” Hug – Finally, the biggest hug of them all! That hug when you get your kids that thing they have always wanted. Whether it be a toy, concert tickets or in our case lately, a new fidget spinner, these are the hugs where they squeeze the tightest. Even though they forget about the cool thing they got 5 minutes later and it is kind of like buying a hug, I’ll still take it to see that joy on their faces!

So for all you new dads out there, don’t assume that mom is the only one who can provide benefits for baby early on. Get in there and get your hugs right away! Huggies has developed this very cool Hug Plan to get you started on your way to unleashing the many benefits of skin-to-skin contact and it truly is an amazing resource!

You can follow along with Huggies new campaign by searching the #NoBabyUnhugged hashtag and by visiting them at @HuggiesCanada on Twitter and Facebook, and @Huggies on Instagram.

Happy Father’s Day!!!

Disclosure: I was compensated for my participation in this campaign.

Ellie Black

Canadian Dad Podcast: Ep. 13 – Canadian Olympic Gymnast, Ellie Black

Today I chatted with Canadian Olympic gymnast, Ellie Black, about her journey through gymnastics, which has led her to appear in 2 Olympic games so far.

We talked about her youth as she provided some excellent advice for all the young gymnasts out there and even took the time to answer a few questions from the gymnasts here at Kanata Gymnosphere.

We also had a chance to discuss her new line of Ellie leotards from Jagwear of Canada and how important it is for kids to have string Canadian role models to look up to.

Ellie is an absolutely wonderful person and you can tell that she is grateful for everything that has come her way. She is quick to give back to the kids and we are lucky to have her as an ambassador for our young athletes. You can (and should) follow Ellie on Twitter and Instagram

I hope you enjoy the show!!

Oral-B Genius Blog Post

My Toothbrush Is Smarter Than I Am…

You know how I know I’m getting old? My new toothbrush has its own app, that’s how! That’s right, Oral-B was kind enough to send me their new Genius 8000 rechargeable toothbrush with position detection technology and I was actually afraid that I wouldn’t be able to figure out how to use it. Luckily for me, and you, there was nothing to worry about and everything to be excited about with this toothbrush.

Oral B App

Examples of how the Oral-B App can help!

A little backstory on my relationship to my teeth. As my dentist will gladly let you know, I have not always been a model student when it comes to checkups. Four root canals, multiple fillings and an extraction later and you’d think I would have learned my lesson, but no. I still stare into the bathroom mirror every morning, mindlessly brushing the same spot for 30 seconds before giving up and moving on with my day.

All that has changed since I started using the Oral-B Genius 8000, which I should add is my first electric toothbrush, because it has made brushing my teeth fun again. Every morning I pull it out of its hardcover case, wave it around like a 6 year old with a lightsaber, and flip open the Oral-B app. The app is outstanding, too. Here is just a small list of the things the app and brush do while I am brushing:

* Oral-B Genius 8000 has revolutionary Position Detection Technology. Using Bluetooth technology, the app uses my Smartphone’s selfie cam and detects my face to help guide better brushing in my mouth.

* When I have effectively brushed a section of my mouth, the app and brush let me know by lighting up on the screen and vibrating in my hand. Inside the brush, there is a Wii-like sensor the communicates to the app where you are brushing.

* The app encourages you to brush for the dentist recommended two minutes. The average manual brush user brushes for less than a minute and Oral-B App users on average brush 2 minutes and 27 seconds.

* The brush will stop over-aggressive brushers (ie. me!) by switching to sensitive mode and lighting up red when they are pushing too hard in their mouth.

* Has new settings including a whitening setting + whitening brush head as well as new pro-clean mode. Teeth will appear whiter in just one use of the Genius.

* My favourite feature is the brushing challenge, which gives me a score based on how well I brushed all areas of my mouth, providing incentive to better that score the next time around.

Oral-B Genius 8000

Yeah, I know! This toothbrush has completely changed the way I look at brushing my teeth and has shown me how terrible I have been at it for such a long, long time. Oh, did I also mention that it comes with stylish travel case that charges both the brush and a smartphone or small device? I can’t wait to test this thing out while on the road!

Ladies, if you are looking to surprise the father in your life with something unexpected this Father’s Day, may I recommend the Oral-B Genius 8000. He may be offended that you are insulting his oral hygiene but he will fall in love with this magical piece of technology! Now if only I could get it to start tweeting for me…

Disclosure: I received this toothbrush as part of this campaign and have never felt more like Luke Skywalker in my life.

McCain Beaver Creek Farms House

Potato Farming For McCain Is A Family Affair

I took a short trip to MacGregor, Manitoba last month with McCain Foods to meet with potato grower, Stan Weibe from Beaver Creek Farms. Stan was kind enough to take some time to answer our questions and also showed us around the farm so we could see how the potato farming process works. I definitely wasn’t prepared for the amount of knowledge I was about to take in but I’ve done my best to summarize the trip for you because this farm has a great story.

The first thing that jumped out at me from listening to Stan speak was the importance of family and the role it played on the farm. Stan has been working full time at Beaver Creek, previously owned by his father, since the summer of 1975 when he joined the family business after high school. His father got their first potato contract in 1968 and they have been McCain growers since 1978, so when I talk about family, I’m not just talking about blood relatives. Stan mentioned that he didn’t take to farming at first but feels blessed that he stuck with it because there’s a special feeling knowing that he gets to feed families around the world.

Stan’s passion for potatoes was topped only by the way he spoke of his family. He starts his day early but still finds time to go home for coffee with his wife in the morning and again for lunch and dinner. He told us of her musical talents, passion for life, their ongoing battle of crib, and their deep love of both of their children.

McCain Beaver Creek Farms Ltd

The family story didn’t end there, however, as it became clear that Stan regards all his farm’s employees as extended members of his family. He mentioned that they have never had to post a job because most people stay once they’ve started working at Beaver Creek, with most employees having been there 10-15 years. On top of that, Stan runs the farm with his brother, Don, who has 4 kids, one of which works on the farm.

As you can see, the potatoes are secondary to the real story, which is that it takes a strong family environment to make a business as large as a farm successful. That said, we did talk a lot about potatoes and it was fascinating learning how McCain potatoes go from farm to fork. Seeing as I could write another 3,000 words discussing what I learned, I’m going to give you some quick hits of my favourite parts of the tour. Ready?

McCain Potato Farm Canadian Dad

Technology on the Farm

By far, the most interesting part of the farm tour, for me, was listening to Stan describe the importance of technology in the running of the farm. They bought into technology early on, buying their first computer in 1989. Today, every single tractor, combine and sprayer is guided by satellite and GPS coordinates, which means hands off the steering wheel for the drivers, leaving them to focus on making sure the job is done right.

When I remarked how cool this was, Stan mentioned how it was way beyond the cool factor because of the economic value technology brings to the farm. The fertilizer and seed are now planted so efficiently that it’s no longer required to double-up to ensure they achieve strong amounts of growth. He can also log into the mainframe from his smartphone to check and adjust the temperature, humidity and other factors in all of the potato storages.

I still say it was extremely cool and sitting inside one of the tractors was like being on the deck of the USS Enterprise with all the screens and gadgets.

Potato & Seed Storages

The technology side of farming was cool, but seeing the inside of the potato storages was absolutely mesmerizing. We had heard of the wall-to-wall potato storage facilities on our immersion trip in Toronto but to actually see it was incredible. I must have stared at the massive pile of harvested potatoes for too long because I have almost no notes from our time inside the storage but rather about 1,000 photos of the potato wall.

McCain Potato Wall

I should note that the safety and sanitation measures taken on site were impeccable. As Stan put it, each potato is a living organism that will be going into someone’s mouth, and very little changes from the time it leaves the farm to the moment it hits a plate. They require greater care than other crops and they take that responsibility very seriously. As a consumer, this was very reassuring.

The seed storage was a much smaller pile because they were already about halfway done their planting for the season. That said, we had a chance to check out the seed cutting machine, which generally cuts each russet potato 6 ways to produce 8-10 plants per seed piece. Stan also brought up the fact that while potatoes have great potential for income, they are also the poorest reproducers as it takes approximately 16 bags of potatoes to produce 340 bags. When you factor in challenges such as poor weather and potential soil issues, you have to make sure you are all on the same page.

Other Odds & Ends

* Something else I found interesting was our discussion about the way crops are planted. As a non-farmer I didn’t realize that you can’t just plant potatoes in the same field year in and year out because a solid rotation of crops is extremely important for the oral health of the farm and the soil. In fact, Beaver Creek has a 4 year rotation between potato crops, as one field will see wheat, corn, canola and potatoes in consecutive years.
* Consumer acceptance generally drives the potato market. Even though a potato such as the Innovator may taste the same while being a more cost effective option to harvest, North Americans are having a hard time with the yellow colour and often pass on it for the well known Russet Burbank variety. In Europe, however, the Innovator is thriving.
* There was a running joke throughout the weekend that I had purchased new work boots for the trip but due to the weather I had been unable to dirty them up. I’m happy to report that they did not come home clean.

McCain Farm Muddy Boots

By the time the day was over my mind was bursting with knowledge and I hope I was able to impart some of that wisdom with you. The true story of this trip, for me, was how the strong family bond on this farm helped to make it the success that it has been for over 50 years. We were already a McCain household but after this trip my confidence in McCain Foods grew even larger.

Thank you to Stan Weibe and the crew at Beaver Creek Farms Ltd for their hospitality, the tour and all the incredible information.

Disclosure: I was compensated for my participation in the Farm to Fork program, however the passion of the farmers and everyone involved in the McCain family is incredibly infectious.