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Cultiv8 finishes fall semester with a bang

Posted by Stephanie Rogers on December 11, 2015 in News

By: Casey Spears  

As the fall semester winds down academically for students, it’s also coming to an end for extracurricular activities and clubs, such as the Cultiv8 agricultural sandbox.

Cultiv8 has spent its semester hosting weekly Cultiv8 Club meetings with guest speakers and presentations, attending external events with students, hosting workshops and presenting on campus and in the community.

Funded by the Department of Labour and Advanced Education, Cultiv8 sandbox is a playground on the Dalhousie Agricultural and Acadia campuses for those who are still dedicated to their studies, but are looking to test the entrepreneurial waters. By collaborating with industry on tackling real problems, challenges can be turned inside out and explored. Cultiv8 aspires to be a place where ideas grow and industry solutions develop. The sandbox wants to link budding agricultural entrepreneurs to the vibrant ecosystem that is brewing in this region.

To celebrate the ending of an eventful semester, Cultiv8 ran a SPRINT AG competition. In the software development world, a sprint is defined as a get-together of people involved in a project to further a focused development of the project. Cultiv8 took a spin off that concept and developed SPRINT AG, where teams were formed and worked together on an idea. The ideas were gathered by the agricultural industry and each team chose a problem or idea to work on for the month of November.

Participating students had four weeks to work with their teams and the business model canvas to develop a solution they pitched at Cultiv8’s Christmas party on December 1 for prizes.

SPRINT AG judges were Faculty of Agriculture professors Drs. Chibuike Udenigwe and Kenny Corscadden. Students were judged on their ability to pitch professionally, the completeness of the business canvas model and their level of interaction with the agricultural industry for research purposes.

The evening was full of food, reindeer antlers and a lot of fun with third place going to Beichan Miao and Hartley Prosser who pitched Hart’s Hay – a business that added value to high-quality hay in Nova Scotia by exporting it to drought-ridden markets in the United States.

A close second was Soldier Feed who pitched to provide a poultry feed component through insect meal made from soldier fly larvae. Soldier Feed was presented by Holly Fisher, Connor Fullerton and William Hannah. Unique ideas, such as what one can do with bugs, are a few of the uncommon concepts that Cultiv8 strives to explore and get students thinking what if?

First place team was comprised of Mitesh Patel, Mia Conrod, Morgan McNeil, Min Gong, Shanthanu Krishnakumar and Arin Douglas. Dal AC Community Supported Agriculture pitched a solution for the neglected land on campus. Their solution was a system of growing fresh local vegetables to feed the community with members buying shares into the business to receive an amount of seasonal produce on a regular basis.

The students are now pitching experts having also participated in Acadia’s Start It Up! Weekend in November where Cultiv8 students placed first and third in the competition. All teams went above and beyond in each event. Often times the students had to meet in their free time while managing their regular workloads of undergraduate and Master’s degrees, as well as personal lives and jobs.

“I’m so impressed with the amount of effort these students put in,” Jolene MacEachern, sandbox coordinator, said.

Cultiv8 is looking forward to another successful semester starting with Cultiv8 Club January 12. The sandbox welcomes all students, new or returning, to participate and give entrepreneurship a whirl.

Find out more at and @Cultiv8Ag on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.