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Final round of regional Premier’s Awards presented


March 12, 2008
By Marg Land


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Four more Ontario horticultural producers were the recipients of the first Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence.

Four more Ontario horticultural producers were the recipients of the first Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence.

About 55 regional awards, valued at $5,000 each, were presented across the province earlier this year. Six horticultural producers were featured in the May/June 2007 issue of Fruit & Vegetable Magazine.  The remaining four horticulture-based winners included:

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Northumberland MPP Lou Rinaldi (left) presents John DeLeeuw of De Leeuw Orchards with a plaque recognizing his regional Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence. De Leeuw was recognized for introducing new technology to Ontario to improve spraying practices in the orchard.
 Huron-Bruce MPP Carol Mitchell (left) presents Marius Botden and other members of the company Global Fruit with a regional Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence. Global Fruit helped establish the first Ontario orchard with a density of 1,175 apple trees per acre.
De Leeuw Orchards
Northumberland County’s John De Leeuw recognized a smart idea when he
saw it. He introduced new techno-logy to Ontario to improve spraying
practices in the orchard. The Smart Spray system uses ultrasonic
sensors linked to a computer and tractor-mounted controller to seek and
target trees to be sprayed. The spray tower has 15 spray nozzles on
each side and a fan at its base to fill the tower with air. The
compressed air forces the spray through the nozzles, which direct the
spray out horizontally to the trees. This system uses fewer chemicals,
saves costs and benefits the environment.
Global Fruit
Marius Botden and his company Global Fruit have contributed
tremendously to the Ontario apple industry – from developing a
rootstock that performs in a high-density orchard in Ontario
conditions, to identifying new varieties that meet changing consumer
demand, to implementing the most efficient techniques in orchard
management. Through this Grey County-based operation, the first orchard
with a density of 1,175 apple trees per acre was planted, and new
machinery was developed for faster, high-volume tree planting and less
handling of ripened fruit.
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Bill and Anne Saunders (left) and Mark and Angela Saunders (right) were presented with Saunders Farm’s regional Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence by Northumberland MPP Lou Rinaldi (centre).  Saunders Farm is one of Ottawa’s leading agri-tourism destinations and includes 11 hedge mazes and an annual fall festival.
Saunders Farm
The Saunders Farm is one of Ottawa’s leading agri-tourism destinations. This 100-acre farm was one of the region’s first pick-your-own strawberry operations. In 1991, the owners of the farm developed a new vision for a fall celebration. Following extensive renovations, including the addition of 11 hedge mazes, a fall festival was organized. Held every year since, attendance has increased significantly. In the fifth year, Saunders Farm attracted 15,000 visitors. During 2006 almost 50,000 visited the farm. The Saunders have expanded their operation to include hosting corporate functions, school tours and summer tourism.

The five-year, $2.5-million Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence recognizes that farmers have always been innovative in the running of their businesses. It’s hoped the award program will foster even greater innovation across the province’s agri-food sector.

Individuals and/or groups representing agri-food businesses and organizations were eligible to submit applications. The innovation had to have been developed and used on an Ontario farm, must have the potential for use on a broader basis and for having a positive effect on the agriculture industry.

Applications were reviewed by an independent panel comprising a cross-section of Ontario’s agri-food industry. Four broad criteria were used:
• Uniqueness and originality
• Stage of development
• The impact or benefits of the innovation
• Adoption and/or commercialization.

For information on applying for future rounds of the Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence, please visit www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/premier_award/app_info.htm.

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Northumberland MPP Lou Rinaldi (right) presents Scott and Suzie Kelland of New Terra Farm with a plaque recognizing the operation’s regional Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence. New Terra Farm is a small, pesticide and herbicide-free mixed farm, raising vegetables and meats to market directly to consumers in the area.
New Terra Farm
New Terra Farm, located in the county of Leeds and Grenville, is a small, pesticide and herbicide-free mixed farm, raising vegetables and meats to market directly to consumers in the area. Scott Kelland and his family modeled this project after the Community Supported Agriculture approach. In 2006, 10 families subscribed to New Terra Farms market garden. For a family of two to four, $850 secures a basket of farm-fresh produce for the 23 or 24 week growing season, from May 24 to October. The Kellands anticipated subscriptions from as many as 30 families in 2007. In addition, free-range organic eggs, pork, beef, chicken, lamb and goat are available throughout the year. New Terra Farm helps keep consumers’ food dollars in their own communities.
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