RJC Alumnus hosts Japanese Ambassador to Canada at Saskatchewan Farm

Nov 20, 2023 | Alumni & Friends Story

On the Epp Farm, located 45 minutes north of Saskatoon near Petrofka, SK, getting equipment cleaned up is a regular part of the post-harvest routine. This year, however, international guests inspired a little more attention to detail!

The farm is co-owned by George (grad 1978) and Joanne Epp, together with their son, Ian Epp (grad 2009), and his wife, Kirsten Hamm-Epp. Ian also works as an Agronomy Specialist for the Canola Council of Canada (CCC), an organization who intentionally works with all the “links of the value chain” within the canola industry. This includes connecting with countries like Japan to strengthen relationships and increase knowledge about canola production in Canada, and with Epp being a CCC employee as well as a farmer, ‘Eppic Farms’ was the perfect choice for a Japanese delegation to visit to learn more about Canadian canola growers and farming practices.

The delegation included Kanji Yamanouchi (Ambassador of Japan to Canada), Takahiko Watabe (Consul
General of Japan to Calgary), Akiko Yamasaki (First Secretary, Embassy of Japan to Canada), and Kayako
Iida (First Secretary, Embassy of Japan to Canada). The visit took place on Saturday, September 28, and began with warm words of welcome and admiration on the part of the Japanese delegation at the size of the yard and farming operation. With none of the Japanese guests having been on the Canadian prairies or a farm before, there was much to take in as the group toured around the yard.

Conversation ranged from the length of the growing season in Canada, to the importing and exporting practices of each country, to crop rotation. Epp presented multiple crop samples – the biggest surprise being the small size of canola seeds – and shared about practices like variable rate fertilizer maps that farmers are using to help utilize their land in more sustainable ways.

The Japanese guests were eager to learn as much as possible, and with the big farm equipment also on display, Ambassador Yamanouchi was quick to seize the opportunity to climb up into the combine and learn more about the harvesting process himself.

For Epp, the visit was a combining of worlds in a unique way. “When growers call with questions, it’s nice to be able to share what I’m doing on my own farm,” he says, “but I never thought it would be on display quite this much.” Epp credits his mother and wife for helping with the display part, and the little things like finding both Saskatchewanian and authentic Japanese snacks to offer, which the delegation was charmed to see!

The visit ended with exchanging gifts, and much gratitude expressed by all for the time spent together. “I understand this all so much better,” Consul General Watabe shared as he thanked Epp for the tour. As the delegation was leaving the Epps joked about when the next official might be, but that afternoon it was back to business as usual, at least for now.

Until we meet again, Arigatou!

Submitted by Kirsten Hamm-Epp