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Editorial: On-farm innovation

On-farm innovation


May 15, 2008
By Marg Land


Topics

As this issue of Fruit and
Vegetable Magazine was nearing printing, a press release crossed my
desk announcing the top awards for the 2007 Premier’s Award for
Agri-Food Innovation Excellence.

As this issue of Fruit and Vegetable Magazine was nearing printing, a press release crossed my desk announcing the top awards for the 2007 Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence.

William and Caroline Nightingale of B & C Nightingale Farms, located near LaSalette, Ont., were awarded the $100,000 Premier’s Award, while David and Lynn Freeman of Freeman Farms, near Meaford, Ont., received the $50,000 Minister’s Award.

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Both award winners were announced during the Premier’s Agri-Food Summit, held during mid-April in Toronto and hosted by Premier Dalton McGuinty.

The Nightingales were recognized for their work developing a high tunnel system for improving Ontario vegetable production. William travelled to Europe to research the technology and modified the tunnels to withstand Ontario’s climate, ultimately extending the farm’s growing season by several weeks. The family also formed their own company – Tunnel Tech – that manufactures and markets the technology to other growers.

The Freemans were awarded for their work producing freeze-dried products from plant material for use as nutraceuticals. David has worked with the University of Guelph to develop freeze-dry technology and his farm currently manufactures garlic powder with allicin – the key ingredient behind garlic’s anti-bacterial activity. The Freeman farm features a state-of-the-art, GMP-certified processing plant to freeze dry botanicals such as garlic, blueberries, herbs and other plant material. Its equipment is the first of its kind in Ontario.

It’s refreshing to see these kinds of innovative projects being recognized by the Ontario government. Farming can be a very solitary enterprise – a farm family on their operation working together to produce a crop and, hopefully, a profit, in the best, and most affordable, way possible. Sometimes that means thinking outside the box, constructing your own equipment, finding that necessary technology and making it work for your own situation. This sort of innovative, enterprising thinking isn’t always recognized or awarded. It’s a triumph for agriculture when it is.

Congratulations to the Nightingales and the Freemans.

editorial1 editorial2
Freeman Farms won the Minister’s Award from the 2007 Premier’s Awards for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence. Pictured from left to right are Dalton McGuinty, Premier of Ontario; David and Lynn Freeman; and Leona Dombrowsky, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. 
Photo courtesy of OMAFRA

 
 B & C Nightingale Farms won the Premier’s Award from the
2007 Premier’s Awards for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence. Pictured
from left to right are Leona Dombrowsky, Minister of Agriculture, Food
and Rural Affairs; Carmina Halstead and Billy Nightingale, with their parents, Bill and
Caroline Nightingale; and Dalton McGuinty, Premier of Ontario. 
Photo courtesy of OMAFRA

New website
One aspect of innovation is the increasing use of computers on Canadian farms.
 
According to 2006 data from Statistics Canada, more than 46 per cent of
all farmers (106,409 out of 229,373) list a computer among the
equipment necessary for managing the operation. Out of those on-farm
computer users, 80,133 (75 per cent) are on the Internet and 74,202 (70
per cent) are using e-mail.

With this information in mind, Fruit and Vegetable Magazine recently
relaunched www.fruitandveggie.com. The new website features
up-to-the-minute information covering fruit and vegetable production
across Canada, including the latest news, event listings, new products
and even an opportunity to discuss and comment on industry issues.

The latest edition of Fruit and Vegetable Magazine can be viewed in a
digital format, plus past issues of the magazine have been archived
back to 2005. Visitors can easily search for and access past articles
based on themes, including diseases, pests, field applications,
industry issues and potatoes.

The site also features a list of web exclusives, articles and resources that can only be viewed at www.fruitandveggie.com.

We invite everyone to visit the new website. Test it out. Let us know
what you like, what you don’t, what we could do differently, what you
would like to see more of.

Visit us online regularly over the course of the 2008 growing season.
News and resources will be updated continually, providing you with the
freshest information possible.

May your yields be high and your worries low.