GROWING WITH POTENTIAL
When the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA-FCA) looked for a host destination for their 2021 conference, Charlottetown, in Prince Edward Island (PEI) was an easy choice. In part because 42 percent (594,000 acres) of the island’s land is farmed, but also for the “tranquil nature of the island,” says Laurie Karson, director of communications and stakeholder relations for the CFA – FCA. She describes being particularly impressed that she could see stars and ocean from the city centre.
“Everyone is so kind and welcoming, and the vistas are so beautiful that one can not help but feel calm and blissful,” says Karson. “The CFA has an objective to create an outstanding conference and delegate experience for these farm leaders, and what better location than PEI?”
Known as Canada's Food Island, PEI offers a pool of local experts available at the University of Prince Edward Island, which offers studies in applied climate change and adaptation, environment, wildlife conservation, biotechnology and sustainable engineering. Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada maintains a 65-hectare (160 acre) research facility in Charlottetown and a 330-hectare (815-acre) research farm, with state-of-the-art greenhouses, which have a heavily research focus on sustainable production systems, managing soil and water resources, pest management for maximum benefit and minimal risk, bioresources and value-added crops. More experts are available from the Atlantic Veterinary College based in Charlottetown.
An affordable alternative
With its quaint capital city, its state-of-the-art PEI Convention Centre, rich cultural and culinary heritage, endless picturesque golf courses, and industry leadership in agriculture, life sciences, arts and culture, PEI is an affordable alternative to larger urban centres. Rose Fitzpatrick, manager of marketing & communications at Prince Edward Island BioAlliance agrees, “PEI is a world-class location for hosting international meetings and events, due in part to our leading expertise in a number of areas of research and business in industries such as agriculture, aquaculture, biotechnology, and music and culinary arts.”
Industry expertise, picturesque landscapes, and dynamic culture aside, Fitzpatrick says it’s the people who really make conference delegates feel right at home on Prince Edward Island, “As Canada’s smallest province, PEI punches above our weight in providing professional customer service and building collaborative relationships. Most Islanders take pride in acting as official ambassadors to visitors from all over the world, keeping guests coming back for more time and time again.”
Exploring the local ecosystem
Connecting conference-goers with the local ecosystem is easy on PEI where the small nature of the island creates a collaborative community. Karson notes that for her event which hosts top farm leaders from Europe, Mexico, United States and Canada, off-site networking is critical. PEI’s small footprint and proximity to farmlands will allow the CFA to incorporate two farm tours into their agenda.
Creating meetings with purpose
By augmenting speakers series with Canadian subject matter experts, or enriching their programming with localized technical tours, and lab visits, business event organizers can attract delegates, increase revenues, fuel innovation, and even inspire future generations. “We call that 'meeting with purpose,'” says Virginie De Visscher, senior director of business development, economic sectors for Destination Canada Business Events who points out that when the time is right for in-person events to resume, Canada is poised to show off its deep agricultural roots, its innovation ecosystems, and the researchers and industry leaders who are feeding the world.