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Different strokes for different folks


4 minute read

Different strokes for different folks.

A day or so before superstars Bryce Harper and Blake Snell told of their reluctance to play an abbreviated 2020 major-league baseball season unless they get all of their multi-million dollar contracts, a young guy in Alberta spent long minutes talking about how much he wants to play.

For 21-year-old pitching prospect Jesse Poniewozik of Spruce Grove, money is no object. These days, when he isn’t working to complete a degree at Okanagan University in Kelowna, B.C., the righthander spends as much time as possible in an empty park, working toward the next chance he gets to climb the ladder toward a successful long-term career.

Like many other young players, this young man has a dream. He discovered baseball as a four-year-old and has been captivated by the sport ever since. It’s extremely easy to pull for Poniewozik. He’s bright, well-spoken and thoughtful.

It’s even easier to pull for him if you know a little about his single season with the Edmonton Prospects and the frightening incident that sidelined him only days before the end of last season.

Those in the seats when a line drive off the bat of a Medicine Hat Mavericks player hit Poniewozik on the head, literally knocking him off the mound. He struggled to his feet and made a brief gesture toward the rolling baseball before going down again. At that point, his mom and dad, Karen and Jim, made their way to the clubhouse and from there to hospital. Almost immediately, they learned that “Jesse had a concussion, a serious one.”

When he was allowed to go home, restrictions were serious: plenty of rest, especially at first; limited physical activity; a responsible diet. Now, months later, the young man sees that difficult time as a positive one.

“I did so much sitting around, you know, that I put on some weight. I had to work a little later to take some of it off.”

As a result of a new routine that lasted a couple of months, his playing weight climbed from about 185 to about 200 pounds, good size for a man who’s six-foot-two. Coincidentally speed on his fastball – the sport’s beloved “velo” – is about four miles per hour better than last year’s best level. Like every young pitcher, Poniewozik realizes the game is easier if you can throw the ball past a rival hitter. “I’m sure I’ll get faster, I’ll be able to stay in the 90s.”

With both the Prospects and his university team inactive because of COVID-19, “Ponie” is happy to look back at some early appearances against U.S. College teams in and around Las Vegas. There, overcoming some understandable nervousness from last year’s injury, he discovered that his improvement from the start to the end of the 2019 season is continuing.

That’s where confidence comes in, something that developed for him as a Prospects. where he opened as an occasional reliever before growing into crucial situations. By season end, his value as a starter was obvious. “At first, I wondered about some things: a lot of good players from big American schools play in our league and I had to find out what I could do.”

Now, he knows he can prosper competitively in the WCBL. One day, he hopes to prosper financially at baseball’s higher levels.

But, first, he just wants to play.

Read more stories on Todayville.



Canada under pressure to produce more food, protect agricultural land: report

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Canada’s agricultural land is under increasing pressure to produce more food as demand grows domestically and internationally, while the industry grapples with limited resources and environmental constraints, a new report found. 

“We need to grow more food on less land and in a volatile climate,” said Tyler McCann, managing director of the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute.

The report by the institute released Thursday looks at the pressures on Canada’s agricultural land to produce more food while also mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change, said McCann. 

Despite Canada being a big country, it doesn’t have as much agricultural land as people might think, said McCann, with the report noting that agricultural land makes up only around seven per cent of the country. 

Because of that, we can’t take what we do have for granted, he said. “We need to be really thoughtful about how we are using our agricultural land.” 

In 2020, Canada was the eighth largest country in terms of cropland area, the report said, with that cropland decreasing by seven per cent over the previous two decades. 

Canada is a major producer and net exporter of agriculture and agri-food products, the report said, exporting $91 billion in products in 2022, and one of the top 10 exporters of wheat, canola, pulses, pork and beef. 

In the coming years, Canada will face increased demand from countries whose populations are growing, the report said. 

“With population growth on one side and climate change on the other, Canada will be amongst an increasingly smaller number of countries that is a net exporter,” said McCann, noting that Canada’s own population is growing, and farmland also needs to be protected against urban sprawl. 

The wildfires clouding Canadian skies this week are a “vivid reminder” of the pressure that extreme weather and the changing climate are putting on the agricultural sector, said McCann. 

“We need to clearly mitigate … agriculture’s impact on climate change. But we also need to make sure agriculture is adapting to climate change’s impacts,” he said. 

One of the ways the world has responded to demand for increased agricultural production over time is to create more agricultural land, in some cases by cutting down forests, said McCann. But that’s not a viable option for Canada, which doesn’t have a lot of land that can be sustainably converted into farmland — and even if it could, doing so could have a variety of adverse environmental effects, he said. 

Some of the practices used to reduce emissions and sequester carbon in agriculture can also improve production output on existing farmland, the report found, such as precision agriculture and no-till practices.

However, intensifying the production of current agricultural land also comes with potential environmental downsides, the report said.

For example, McCann said fertilizer is an important part of sustainable agriculture, but there’s a balance to be struck because excessive use of fertilizer can quickly turn food production unsustainable. 

“We need to be a lot more thoughtful about the inputs that we’re using,” he said, adding the same can be said about the use of technology in agriculture and the policies and programs put in place to encourage sustainable intensification of Canadian agriculture. 

The report recommends that Canada adopt policies that provide financial incentives and technical assistance to farmers and develop regulatory frameworks promoting sustainable land use, as well as promoting education and awareness campaigns, so that the country can “ensure the long-term sustainability of its agricultural sector while protecting the environment.”  

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 8, 2023.

Rosa Saba, The Canadian Press

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Lawyer tells Alberta’s highest court review board biased in de Grood’s case

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