Apr 12, 2018

Supporting Humboldt

Today, employees of GROWMARK Ontario region, FS PARTNERS and UPI Energy FS wore sports jerseys and raised money in support of the families and communities so greatly affected by this tragic loss.

Our thoughts are with you...................



Apr 5, 2018

Two more Ontario FS crop specialists earn CCS status!

Chris Albrecht FS PARTNERS
 Canada's Outdoor Farm Show  2017 (COFS)
Chris Albrecht, FS PARTNERS crop specialist and Jay Lennox, crop specialist with North Wellington Co-operative Services have successfully completed the requirements necessary to hold credentials as a Certified Crop Specialist (CCS) in the FS System. Both already hold Certified Crop Advisor designations, making this prestigious achievement the next level in their extensive agricultural training. 

Jay Lennox - North Wellington Co-op
(R) COFS 2017
"The Certified Crop Specialist accreditation recognizes crop advisors for their production expertise," says Don McLean, GROWMARK Ontario agronomy business director. “These credentials prove a CCS’s ability to put his or her training to work in finding solutions that help producers optimize agronomic results, economic return and environmental stewardship.

To earn the title of Certified Crop Specialist, students are required to successfully complete a series of comprehensive written and verbal exams designed to establish base standards of knowledge on the topics of nutrient management practices, integrated pest management, soil erosion and water quality. Among the skill sets assessed were technical knowledge; the ability to discover, identify and analyze yield-limiting factors from a grower’s field records; identify common pest problems and recommend economic treatment measures; discuss and analyze the economic aspects of crop production; and understand the need-identification process.

Currently there are 18 individuals in Ontario that hold this GROWMARK designation.






Mar 28, 2018

Pre-spring March meetings in full bloom for Ontario GROWMARK System!


March is a topical month, marking the end of winter, the beginning of baseball season, basketball playoffs (March Madness), and for the Ontario GROWMARK System, March ends another season of extensive training, education and engagement as FS specialists gear up for spring. 

  • Starting the season with a two-day FS Agronomy Conference that provided FS crop specialists with informative and interactive sessions on big data and precision-ag, the 4R conversation, weather expertise from The Weather Network and a body language analysis session; all to help crop specialists be more effective in their day-to-day analysis and communications in the field. Some feedback from attendees: “Nice mix of topics; overall very informative and worth the two days away; One of the best conferences yet." 
To hear more from conference participants, listen to the GROWMARK podcast here.

Ryan White, GROWMARK Director Agronomy talks
big data and Precision-Ag.

Neil Thornton of Thornton Group gives expressive demonstration
on the importance of body language in our everyday communications. 

  • A two-day Custom Applicator Clinic offered hands-on training using simulators and equipment demonstrations to more than 80 FS custom applicators. Applicators were recognized for their hard work and expertise in precision and accuracy.



    Joe Joosten, Wanstead Farmers Co-operative director and
    Mary Walton, GROWMARK Ontario region administrative
    assistant plot co-op principles on Ontario map.
  • The FS Director Summit gave member co-operative board directors and general managers an opportunity to network, hear from GROWMARK executive teams and gain new insights into government relations strategies, ag advocacy and other pertinent topics. The theme for this year’s Summit was Principle #6 Co-operation among co-operatives and was top-of-mind throughout the event.



  • Most recently, FS experts in agronomy, energy and grain marketing attended the GrainFarmers of Ontario March Classic trade show in London Ontario. This event provided a good opportunity for FS specialists to network with other industry leaders and many of their valued customers throughout the day. 
To hear more about March Classic from FS agronomy, grain marketing and energy experts, listen to the GROWMARK podcast here.
  • Led by GROWMARK Ontario region staff, Successful Selling Series was offered to sales staff along with a Management Leadership Session for Ontario FS System managers, provided by Andy King, GROWMARK manager Leadership Development.

Training, education and information sharing is one 
of the seven co-operative principles. 




Mar 7, 2018

4-H and GROWMARK offer essay contest opportunity to Ontario high school students!


The theme for this year’s 4-H Essay Contest is: “How can co-operatives demonstrate their value to the next generation of agriculturists?" The contest is open to all Ontario high school students who are members of 4-H.

You can get started by visiting the GROWMARK or 4-H Ontario website to learn the full details on the program. Fill out the requested title page, write an impressive essay and email or mail your package to GROWMARK Ontario region office for a chance to become the Ontario provincial winner for 2018.

First place will receive $500 and the winner’s 4-H Association will also receive $300. Two runners-up each win $125.

Essays should be approximately 500 words, typed and double-spaced. The postmarked entry deadline for Ontario 4-H members is May 15. 

The essay contest has been in place for many years, sponsored by the GROWMARK System and FS member co-operatives, in conjunction with US state FFA leaders and 4-H Ontario, to help young people develop their writing skills, learn about current issues affecting agriculture, and understand the unique role of co-operatives. 

Mar 2, 2018

4-H Ontario Ambassadors continue to impress!

Thirteen years later and the 4-H Ontario Ambassador program continues to thrive. As a sponsor of this event, FS is able to meet these young leaders face-to-face and see first-hand the difference they are making in spreading awareness and promoting 4H in rural communities throughout the province.  

I was able to attend the opening orientation banquet last weekend and listen to the presentations from each of the 2017 outgoing Ambassadors as they spoke about their Community Enagagement projects. Projects ranged from hanging street banners downtown, to developing new clubs to inspire more interest. Each had a unique spin.

Introducing our 2018 4-H Ambassadors, below (L-R) Kyle Nussey of Oxford county, Melissa Brisson of Russell; Evan Jenkins, Andrea Dohner and Devin Catt from Elgin county and Nicole French, region of Peel.







Thank you to our outgoing 2017 Ambassadors. From L-R: Robert McKinlay, Nicole French, Sierra Stanley, Shannon Desjardins, Sarah Mutton and Lyndsay Dickson. 

Dec 21, 2017

Health and Safety is top-of-mind with FS employees


Earlier this month, the tenth annual Health and Safety Day led by GROWMARK Health and Safety specialist Erin Byram, provided a series of training sessions and workshops to more than 40 FS System employees who see good health and safety practices as top priority.

The day’s agenda began with an update on new legislative changes and some basic health and safety principles from Erin Byram followed by accident and near-miss investigations presented by Kevin Frye, GROWMARK Safety Services Manager.

Dana Wells, UPI Energy FS manager ERT, compliance and fleet services, led a session on fuel safety and then took some time to lead participants on a tour of the UPI Energy FS bulk fuel facility on Hwy 24 in Guelph.

Barry Hannah, GROWMARK Ontario Human Resources manager wrapped up the day with a session on how to become the best Health and Safety professional in your field. He elaborated on the importance of sound practices and proper ethics that will ultimately benefit the company as a whole, but also the well-being of your co-workers.

Between annual Health & Safety Days, Erin Byram continues to distribute a seasonal Health and Safety newsletter “FS Work Smart Ontario” and work with member co-ops and GROWMARK divisions to further health and safety awareness and training.

Dec 19, 2017

Congratulations to this year’s Aspiring Leaders graduates!

Earlier this month, Ontario GROWMARK System employees who took part in the Aspiring Leaders program came together to present their final presentations to their mentors and managers from various member companies and GROWMARK Ontario region staff.

The multi-faceted three-month leadership program involves several training sessions on GROWMARK, leadership styles, accounting and finance, communications and government relations. Participants also received daily readings and exercises to stimulate their knowledge base and help them look inward and develop strengths and weaknesses.

Congratulations to this year’s Aspiring Leaders seen here receiving their graduation certificates from Carrie Khuns, GROWMARK manager, employee development.

Devin Grosse  Durham Farmers
County Co-op
Justin Stevenson - AGRIS Co-op
Connie Kersten - AGRIS Co-op
Jacob Bross - Huron Bay Co-op




James Papineau - AGRIS Co-op
Brandon Caughell - AGRIS Co-op
Shayne Jones - FS PARTNERS

Dec 1, 2017

Chatham-Kent 4H Association banquet includes recognition of GROWMARK Ontario Essay Contest winner

As part of the Chatham-Kent 4-H banquet and awards night on Nov. 16, grade 12 student, Ryan McKerrall was formally recognized as this year's provincial winner of the GROWMARK (high school) Essay Contest.

Matt Minshall, AGRIS Co-operative customer service manager presented Ryan with a recognition plaque and $500 in prize money on behalf of GROWMARK and the FS Co-operatives. GROWMARK also provided the local 4-H Association with a cheque for $300 to help build future programs for their local association.

Grade 12 student and 4H member Ryan McKerrall (L) recognized as 
GROWMARK provincial essay contest winner by Matt Minshall,-AGRIS Co-op. 
The banquet took place on Nov. 16 at Ridgetown United Church. 



Nov 1, 2017

Co-op week and Co-op month celebrations raise awareness and funds for two great charities!

Co-op week prizes to be won!
As October comes to an end, it is a good time to take a moment and reflect on our efforts in support of co-operatives.

This year saw a greater element of enthusiasm and participation during Co-op week for GROWMARK employees in Ontario with the recent merge of FS PARTNERS, GROWMARK Ontario region and UPI Energy FS staff all working together under one roof.

Mary Walton, cuts Co-op Week
cake for everyone.
Employees Andrea Fernandes, Christine Morrison, and Mary Walton co-ordinated several entertaining activities including a “get to know each other” fun-fact quiz for each participating employee, daily co-op trivia along with a large raffle draw that raised more than $1800 for the Canadian Co-operative Development Foundation. During the week, Claude Gauthier, gave a breakfast presentation on the history and evolution of GROWMARK, and Janice Johnson provided a lunch session on Co-ops 101. 

Jeff Brown shows off part of his raffle
prize, complete with a pair of FS socks!
Andrea Fernandes leads successful
fund-raiser raffle.
Simultaneously, during Co-op month in the United States, GROWMARK employees successfully raised more than $1100 for their local United Way organization through activities such as jean-days, homemade biscuits and gravy sales for breakfast, snack cart sales, and a raffle with prizes donated by local businesses and GROWMARK divisions. 

Congratulations to all GROWMARK teams!

Oct 30, 2017

Building begins today for FS PARTNERS’ new fertilizer facility in Ayr

Ground-breaking celebrations took place today for area farmers as construction began for a new state-of-the-art fertilizer facility at FSPARTNERS’ agronomy site in Ayr.

The 15,000-tonne facility will have nine bins to give flexibility for retail blending needs. It will also have a blending system capable of mixing up to 2,000 tonnes of crop nutrient products per day, more than doubling the old capacity of 800 tonnes per day. The facility will be capable of receiving products by rail and truck. 

 “We see this as an excellent investment for the future and confirms our true commitment to provide greater efficiencies for our farmer-owners, our customers and for retailers in the Ontario marketplace,” says Frank Barron, FS PARTNERS division manager. 

Construction is expected to be completed in about a year’s time and the new plant will be a shared asset between GROWMARK, Inc. and its retail division FS PARTNERS. GROWMARK will use it to distribute to area retailers and FS PARTNERS will utilize it to serve its farmer-customers.

Today marks the first day of construction at FS PARTNERS' Ayr facility. Ceremonial ground-breaking photo seen here with (L-R) Aron Van Pelt, president Van Pelt Construction; Claude Gauthier, GROWMARK executive director, Ontario operations; Jeff House, FS PARTNERS operations and facilities manager, Bert Perriman, FS PARTNERS board president, Frank Barron, FS PARTNERS division manager, Kevin Stumpf, FS PARTNERS branch manager, Ayr.

Sep 8, 2017

Visit FS at Canada's Outdoor Farm Show

Come visit us on 4th lane to learn how the FS Co-operative System can provide the The Whole Farm Plan from seed to harvest! 

  • Learn more about Western Bean Cutworm and take part in our interactive crop scouting excercise.
  • Meet the many high school students who will be visiting our site as they take part in a scavenger hunt organized by AgScape.
  • Pick up the the latest results from the Great Lakes Grain Crop Tour. 
  • Learn about the many environmentally friendly energy products and services FS provides.
  • Play a round of 4R Bean Bag Toss and win a prize!   
We look forward to seeing you there!

Sep 7, 2017

Executing Excellence in youth leadership

Shannon Desjardins of Milford, Ontario recently attended the 2017 GROWMARK Annual Meeting and Agribusiness Symposium in Chicago as this year’s Ontario youth speaker. She was joined on stage with three more young leader speakers, representing FFA (Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin). Shannon represented 4-H Ontario and delivered an excellent speech on the topic of leadership. 


Shannon was one of three young people from Ontario chosen to take part in the travel opportunity sponsored by GROWMARK. Also travelling to Chicago was 4-H Ontario Ambassador Nicole French of Peel region, and the president of Junior Farmers’ Association of Ontario Matt Smith from Ancaster.

Shannon Desjardins, 
Ontario youth speaker
Shannon is a graduate of the university of Guelph with an Associate Diploma in Agriculture and is fulfilling her dream of working directly with farmers. Shannon works with County Farm Centre in Prince Edward County as a crop specialist and sales agronomist, and also farms with her husband on 152 acres raising beef cattle and growing market vegetables. 
FFA young leaders from Iowa, Illinois 
and Wisconsin along with Ontario 
representative each deliver a speech 
on excellence in leadership.

In her spare time, Shannon volunteers with many local community fairs and other associations. She is an active member of Junior Farmers Association of Ontario and this year was selected as one of six Ontario 4-H Ambassadors. 

Each year GROWMARK provides travel opportunities to youth who have shown dedication to leadership development. They travel to Chicago to learn more about GROWMARK and network with business people and other young leaders. As part of their experience, they took part in a number of activities, including the annual meeting’s grand opening ceremonies and were able to take time to tour some of Chicago's many unique attractions. 


Congratulations to all these young leaders!


Nicole French (4-H Ambassador) carries the Ontario flag

Shannon Desjardins-4-H Ambassador and youth speaker represents JFAO 

Matt Smith carries the Canadian flag to the stage

Nicole, Shannon and Matt tour the Conrad Suite at the Hilton-Chicago


Shannon, Matt and Nicole Hilton-Chicago Grand Ballroom
To view more photos of the GROWMARK Annual Meeting and Agribusiness Symposium, click here.

Sep 5, 2017

Two Ontario FS Co-ops receive top Performance Improvement Award!











At the recent GROWMARK Annual Meeting and Agribusiness Symposium, five FS member co-operatives were recognized by GROWMARK for business performance improvement. 

GROWMARK measures performance improvement based on return on invested capital. Over a five-year time frame, each co-operative's return on invested capital improvement is measured in comparison to other co-operatives in the GROWMARK System.

The 2017 Top Improvement Award winners (over a five-year period) are:

·       First – GRAINCO FS, Ottawa, Illinois – Richard Brummel is the president and Mike Builta is the manager.    
·       Second – North WellingtonCo-operative, Harriston, Ontario – Gord South is the president and Kelly Boyle is the manager.
·       Third – Conserv FS, Woodstock, Illinois – John Henning is the president and Dave Mottet is the manager.
·       Fourth – Christian CountyFarmers Supply Company, Taylorville, Illinois – Rob Woods is the President and Mark Bauman is the manager.
·       Fifth – Durham Farmers’ County Co-operative, Orono, Ontario. Charles Harris is the President and Kevin Rogers was the manager at the time.


Congratulations to North Wellington Co-operative for achieving second place in this category and to Durham Farmers County Co-operative for receiving fifth place!








To read the full news release click here.   

Aug 10, 2017

GROWMARK recognizes Nicole Weber as one of five winners of Endure 4R Advocate award.

Implementing nitrogen management as a system. Encouraging variable rate technology for fertilizer applications. Utilizing nitrogen stabilizers. These are some of the ongoing practices used by this year’s Endure 4R Advocate award winners.

Ontario winner, Nicole Weber is the precision Ag manager with FS PARTNERS based out of Kitchener. She works with their six main agronomy hubs across southern and central Ontario. Weber holds her Certified Crop Adviser and 4R Nutrient Management Specialist designations in Ontario.

“Not only are we utilizing the 4Rs to make nutrient recommendations based off of scientific principles and best management practices,” says Weber. “There’s also an environmental and economic benefit by minimizing losses and maximizing crop nutrient uptake.”

This is the second year for the GROWMARK Endure 4R Advocate Award. It’s designed to encourage and promote 4R practices. The 4R approach to nutrient stewardship involves using the right source, place, time, and rate of fertilizer.


“Sustainability is paramount to our System because it is the right thing to do for the environment and farmer profitability," says Lance Ruppert, GROWMARK director, agronomy marketing.

Agriculture industry professionals outside the GROWMARK System served as judges. The winners earn recognition at GROWMARK's Annual Meeting and Agribusiness Symposium at the end of this month. 

To view more about Nicole and her commitment to 4R stewardship, click here


Jul 24, 2017

GROWMARK hosts Chinese ag professionals.

A delegation of Chinese senior agricultural policy and program directors organized by the Heilongjiang Provincial Government, P. R. of China came to the GROWMARK Ontario region office today to learn more about GROWMARK and co-operatives. The 20-member delegation was led by Zhiguang Xing, deputy director of the Agricultural Affairs Committee of Heilongjiang Province.

The purpose of the group’s visit to Canada was to learn more and establish international exchange about the agri-food industry particularly with regards to advanced food processing, value-added processing, food quality and food safety, as well as agricultural market and development in the modern age including farmer co-operatives, sustainability issues and innovation.

Claude Gauthier, GROWMARK executive director-Ontario operations and Don McLean, GROWMARK Ontario agronomy business director did a presentation on the GROWMARK System and co-operative business model with key examples of innovative practices and trends in agronomy, energy and grain marketing. 
Claude Gauthier gives broad overview
of the GROWMARK Co-operative System.

Don McLean provides insight into FS Agronomy
including 4Rs, MiField and FS Stewardship
The two hour visit was topped off by a gracious exchange of gifts and a group photo opportunity.  

The group’s  organization, Sino-CanadaTechnology Exchange Centre, is based in Toronto with an office in Beijing. The province of Heilongjiang is the located in the northeast of China with over 210 million hectares of farmland, approximately one ninth of the total farmland in the country.




Jul 11, 2017

Chatham area youth wins provincial essay contest!

Ryan McKerrall of Chatham has been named the Ontario provincial winner of the 2017 GROWMARK essay contest for 4-H members. The theme of this year’s contest was What value do co-operatives provide to today’s farmers?

In his contest entry, McKerrall said: “The members of a co-op share a mutual interest and have a common need. A co-op incorporates the best interest of its members and utilizes the democratic process to do so. Co-ops achieve their mission to support the needs of their members and everyone shares in the profits.”

Ryan McKerrall is a student at Chatham-Kent Secondary School and a member of the Chatham-Kent 4-H Association.

As the contest winner, McKerrall receives a $500 award from GROWMARK and the Chatham-Kent 4-H Association also receives a $300 award in honour of his accomplishment to help future students.

Two provincial runners-up each receive a $125 award. The runners-up are: Laura Scott - Middlesex 4-H Association, student at Medway High School in Arva and Mikayla Ringelberg, Hamilton Wentworth 4-H Association, student at Hamilton District Christian High School in Ancaster.

To read Ryan's full essay or learn more about this contest,  click here