Agronuméricus, or agriculture in a digital world

Seeking to highlight the potential of cross-pollination between sectors to address major societal concerns—in this case, to examine key issues related to agriculture, a domain that has experienced extraordinary scientific and technological progress as well as profound social upheavals—the FRQ teamed up with the Centre d’innovation sociale en agriculture (CISA) to hold a symposium as part of the 85th Acfas Congress: Agronuméricus – What will agriculture look like in a digital world? on May 10, 2017.

During the symposium, 21 scientific researchers and stakeholders combined their expertise on agriculture, culture, digital technology and social innovation. Presentations and discussions took place based on three scenarios highlighting the impact of digital on agriculture. The first scenario concerned the optimization of agriculture through digital technologies, the second examined the question of the right to food for all, while the third focused on civic environmental responsibility.

In short, using the three scenarios as a starting point, a “collective intelligence” was called on to address issues that affect agriculture in a digital world. The objective of the exercise was to bring together actors from different backgrounds and come up with innovative solutions to key challenges faced by society, and in particular by the agricultural community, in a time of unprecedented digital revolution. Finally, the use of a process based on sharing and comparing perspectives and expertise was a demonstration of what is meant by intersectoral mobilization, namely a fertile approach that looks at research questions in a new light and cooperatively builds solutions that are innovative, appropriate and socially acceptable.




Agricultural Exhibition

Creation of the Agricultural Exhibition

The project was first presented at Je vois MTL at the Place des Arts on November 17, 2014. During a workshop on the Agricultural Exhibition, the project leaders, UQAM and Space for Life, presented how the project came about, namely the need to create bridges between the city and the country, the transfer and mobilization of knowledge being central to the concerns of the research community, Montréal as a city of knowledge and creativity, and the role of UQAM and other universities in supporting the vitality and influence of Montréal. Following this workshop, the project leaders agreed to organize an agricultural exhibition for Montréal’s 375th anniversary, in collaboration with other partners. In addition to Union des producteurs agricoles, those partners included the Fonds de recherche du Québec, concerned with the valorization of research findings and inspired by the intersectoral scope of the ambitious and unifying project and its great social relevance. The concept of the agricultural exhibition was born.

In fact, the Art, Culture and Well-Being forum held by the FRQ in February 2013 led to the conclusion that there was an urgent need for a research and creation space where stakeholders from different disciplines and environments could discuss and analyze major societal issues together, and seek forms and approaches that would shed new light on the issues. The call did not fall on deaf ears. Three years later, issues relating to agriculture and food were addressed from the perspective of science, art and the farming community.


2016 edition: Between the country and the city – cultures seeking culture

With two groups of speakers (food producers and consumers) selected to address three issues (ecology and technology, vulnerable groups and food) taken from three fields of thought (ethics, safety and the development of entrepreneurial farming), the stage was set for building bridges between the city and the country. By bringing together scientists, farmers, artists and the general public to discuss issues related to agriculture, the Agricultural Exhibition project sought, on the one hand, to provide urban communities with a better understanding of farming-related issues and, on the other hand, to provide rural communities with multidisciplinary expertise of both a scientific and cultural nature.


2017 edition: Cultivating curiosity

With the theme “Cultivating curiosity”, the 2017 edition of the Agricultural Exhibition continued its momentum, taking a fresh look at art, science and farming and providing more venues for the creation, dissemination and circulation of knowledge. Activities took the following forms:

  • An exhibit entitled Plantas autofotosintéticas by Gilberto Esparza at the Galerie de l’UQAM, in collaboration with the Centre for Sustainable Development;
  • A workshop on bioelectronics with artist Gilberto Esparza and engineer Diego Liedo at UQAM’s biological sciences pavilion;
  • The architectural projection Paysage agricole en transformation on the facade of UQAM’s Président-Kennedy pavilion, in the heart of the Quartier des spectacles;
  • An agricultural mixOFF as part of OFFTA living arts festival, at UQAM’s Sherbrooke pavilion: unlikely or unusual gatherings of artists, researchers and farmers to imagine utopias together that could serve as the basis for future projects;
  • “Libres cours” workshops in the Jardins Gamelin restaurant area on the theme “Expressing nature in the city”, where graduate students address topics such as urban agriculture as a means of slowing the pace of city living, and green roofs as a way to bring nature to the city;
  • A theatrical creation on psychological distress and suicide in the farming community, presented on the Olympic Park’s Esplanade as part of Les Portes ouvertes sur les fermes du Québec organized by the Union des producteurs agricoles (UPA). The piece was originally presented as part of the OFFTA MixOff.