When you sit down to eat supper at night, how often do you take time to consider where your food comes from? Is it grown locally? Is it produced in another province? Have you considered that part of your food could even be produced by a farmer half way around the world?
Ontario farmers are blessed with having exceptional land that they can use to produce some of the highest quality crops in the world! We are able to produce crops that benefit not only ourselves, but even people on the other side of the globe. Soybeans are a perfect example of a crop that is widely grown in Ontario, which is produced with such a high standard of quality that our soybeans are demanded all around the world.
My family not only is involved in growing these high quality soybeans, but we also play a role in exporting the soybeans overseas to countries like Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Indonesia, where they will use the crop to produce soy milk and tofu.
The exporting process on our farm begins when farmers truck their soybeans to a storage facility on our farm called a grain elevator. Here, we buy the crop from the farmers and store the soybeans in large concrete silos until the busy harvest season has ended. After harvest has slowed, we get to work at the grain elevator preparing to begin exporting the crop. Since the soybeans will be used for human consumption, the crop goes through many different machines that clean out impurities in the soybeans and eliminate the risk of other crops like corn or wheat from being exported. Our customers demand very high quality products, so we must make sure the soybeans are perfect!
A grain elevator is a grain storage facility where farmers can store their grain until they wish to sell it.
After the soybeans have completed the rigorous cleaning process, they can either be loaded directly onto a shipping container (we call that shipping in bulk), or the soybeans can be bagged into 25-45 kilogram bags, then loaded into a shipping container. Just like with many products here in Canada, the bulk soybeans will be used by large food processors overseas while the bags of soybeans will be sold at markets and stores for families and small businesses.
The bulk soybeans are loaded into a shipping container using a large conveyor belt which shoots the soys into the container.
The bagging process can be a pretty tiring process, so we decided to get a little help on the farm and invest in a robot to do much of the work. It is quite expensive, but it saves on labour costs and will never call in sick to work!
Check out the video below to see how the robot operates. You can even see my dad working, sewing the bags shut!
After the bags are stacked onto pallets, they are loaded into shipping containers, and then sent on a train to Vancouver before making the long voyage to Asia. Although this business requires a lot of labour and attention to detail, I love it because it I satisfying knowing that the crops my family and I grow are being put toward feeding hungry mouths around the world.