Production

August 9, 2017, Edmonton, Alta – The Agri-tourism and Farm Direct Marketing Bus Tour takes place September 11, 2017, in the Spruce Grove/West Yellowhead region. “The tour will feature family-run businesses doing innovative things on smaller farms in rural Alberta,” says Colin Gosselin, with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry based in Stony Plain. “It will also feature a delicious local food lunch, an artisan winery tour, an experienced agri-tourism coach, and opportunities for networking, sharing, and discussion.” Stops are at Happy Acres U-Pick, Shady Lane Estate and Leaman Exchange. Cost for the tour is $25 per person, and includes tour transportation, lunch and refreshments. The bus pick-up and drop-off point will be in the Spruce Grove area. An alternate drop-off point in the Wildwood area is possible. To register, call 1-800-387-603 by September 6. For more information, contact Colin Gosselin at 780-968-3518.
July 13, 2017, Barrie, Ont. - Sprout Barrie is a 10 week business development program designed to help entrepreneurs take their food ideas from concept to market.Sprout will provide you with the skills and training you need to develop your food business. The program in comprised of weekly seminars on key business development topics like developing a sales pitch and how to develop your food label. It also provides significant time in a culinary lab, where you will have access to food product developers who can guide you on the development and scaling up of your food item, using professional culinary equipment. At the end of this 10 week program, you will have a "sale-ready" product formula, a detailed business launch plan and a strong forecast of the profitability of your business.Sprout is ideal for food entrepreneurs who have an idea and have done some research into their market, target audience, potential product benefit and competitive set. The ideal attendee has also developed their first draft of their business plan and can use this program to fill in the detail. It is also great for those who are currently selling at farmer's markets and festivals, but who want to take their product concept to the next level to target a broader retail audience.Tell us if this program is a fit for you: Georgian College, Agri-Management Food Institute and City of Barrie have been developing a unique educational program for Food Entrepreneurs. Details of the program can be found:http://www.barrie.ca/Doing%20Business/Business-Development/programs/Pages/sprout.aspxYour input is incredibly important as we want to develop a program that makes sense for you as an entrepreneur who is looking to grow your food business. Please click on the link below to fill the anonymous survey.https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/9SJCMGD
July 6, 2017, Quebec - Quebec’s love affair with potatoes shows no sign of fading.While 10-pound bags are still a big seller, the success of specialty spuds from Edmonton, Alberta-based Little Potato Co. is inspiring the province’s growers to try new varieties and package their own lines.“Little Potato Co. kits continue to surpass objectives, showing double-digit growth month after month,” said Dino Farrese, executive vice president of Boucherville, Quebec-based product specialist Bellemont Powell.Farrese said Quebecers love the ease and convenience of not having to peel potatoes and being able to cook them on the barbecue or in the microwave.“It offers a fresh, quality side that people are going crazy for,” he said.Gord Medynski, director of sales and purchasing for St. Ubalde, Quebec-based Patates Dolbec, said the company has tripled its acreage of creamer potatoes this year to about 80 acres after three years of successful trials. READ MORE 
July 4, 2017, Regina, Sask. - As Canadians enjoy fresh, local fruit this summer, producers can expect mixed results from the fruits of their labour this fall.In 2016, Canadian and United States fruit growers increased their production, but didn't necessarily see the demand to match, leading to an oversupply and lower prices for many fruit sectors. As a result, Farm Credit Canada’s (FCC) agriculture economists are predicting a mixed outlook for fruit growers in 2017.“It’s a balancing act to produce enough fruit to meet demand, but not so much as to cause an oversupply that puts downward pressure on prices,” said J.P. Gervais, FCC chief agricultural economist. “Fortunately, a low Canadian dollar has been supporting prices for Canadian fruit producers and will help offset the full impact of a large supply in some sectors of the industry.”Gervais added the real benefit will be to the Canadian consumer, who may see lower prices for some fruit – such as apples – at the grocery store.Wine-making grapes fetch better pricesGrapes that are grown for wine-making in Ontario and British Columbia squeezed out an average three per cent price increase, which helped offset the lower prices for fresh grapes in 2016. Overall, the industry had a good year in 2016, as production increased by 22 per cent from the previous year.Market prices for grapes are mixed based on the variety, quality and the end use, however, prices currently remain strong for wine grapes as demand is expected to continue growing in 2017.Increased cranberry yields help offset lower pricesThe cranberry industry has had several years of low prices due to growing North American supplies of cranberries.In Canada, acreage devoted to growing cranberries has remained steady in British Columbia, but has increased in Quebec over the past five years. While prices remain low, rising production and better yields have compensated for low prices, boosting farm cash receipts.In 2016, Canadian cranberry receipts reached a record $132.6 million, for an increase of 8.8 per cent, an all-time record high. There is also a growing demand for specialized markets segmentation in the cranberry industry, such as organic. Profitability depends on producers’ ability to continually improve their productivity.Large 2016 harvest pushes apple prices lowerCanadian apple production was up 14 per cent while U.S. apple production increased by four per cent from 2015.Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s monthly apple storage report indicates apple supplies are 98 per cent higher than last year’s level, so a large supply remains a challenge. As a result, Canadian retail apple prices are down 13 per cent in the first quarter of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016, but still remain above the previous five-year average. The same trend has impacted U.S. fresh apple market prices, which are down 12 per cent in 2017 and remain near the previous five-year average.The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook indicates that 2017 apple prices should remain below 2016 levels given storage numbers. This price pressure is expected to persist until inventories decline.According to Statistics Canada, in 2015, 31.5 per cent of Canadians aged 12 and older, roughly nine million people, consumed fruit and vegetables five or more times per day.To celebrate the international fruit day on July 1, Canadians can eat more fruit throughout 2017 knowing their local grocery store will likely be well stocked with delicious and reasonably-priced Canadian fruit this summer and fall.For an in-depth look at Canada fruit outlook for 2017, visit the FCC Ag Economics blog post at www.fcc.ca/AgEconomics.
June 8, 2017, Brighton, Ont. - Local Food Week is the annual kick-off to the outdoor farmers' market season, when Ontario growers and their just-picked produce return to communities large and small throughout the province.The growing season is officially underway!Although the wet spring we've had this year has delayed crops in some areas, others are right on schedule. According to Catherine Clark, the new Executive Director of Farmers' Markets Ontario, "At the majority of markets, you'll find an abundance of spring crops like fresh asparagus and rhubarb, and some farmers have begun harvesting their strawberries."Other early-season crops to look for at your local farmers' market are the ones that usher in the season for salads: lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, green onions, spinach, peppers, beets, cabbage, new potatoes, parsnips and (possibly) baby carrots. But farmers' markets aren't just about fresh local produce. They're also about homemade jams and jellies, delectable baked goods, fragrant botanicals, honey, maple syrup, gourmet cheese, farm-fresh eggs, locally raised meats and even VQA wines.Farmers' markets are more than just places to buy fresh local foods.Food isn't the only reason farmers' markets are so popular in Ontario. Catherine Clark points out that "They bring the city and the country together and get everyone talking about food. They also provide wonderful opportunities for parents to teach their children where the food they eat comes from."And there's more. Clark adds: "They're also fun places to be. They're friendly, colourful places where friends and neighbours arrange to meet and spend time together. They foster a sense of community wherever they spring up." They're also good for the environment, since locally grown food produces a much smaller carbon footprint than food that is transported long distances to reach our plates.Farmers' markets are immensely important to the estimated 37,000 families in Ontario that are engaged in local agriculture, providing them with needed income and summer jobs for their children. Many farmers are entitled to identify themselves as MyPick® Verified Local Farmers®. It means that they have been visited and verified by Farmers' Markets Ontario (FMO) as local growers who sell only what they produce on their own local farms. The MyPick® designation sets them apart from vendors masquerading as local growers but who are in fact re-sellers of produce from a variety of sources, often imported and/or purchased at food terminals.Find out moreYou can look up the location and operating hours of all 182 member markets of Farmers' Markets Ontario, as well as find information on MyPick® Verified Local Farmers® on the FMO website at farmersmarketsontario.com.
April 28, 2017, St. Thomas, Ont – Area farmers will have a chance to showcase their new products and get a business case for them, thanks to a new pilot project Fanshawe College is bringing to the community.The initiative, called the Fanshawe Farm Market project, will match Fanshawe faculty and students in the Agri-Business Management program, offered at the Simcoe/Norfolk campus, with local farmers interested in launching new products to the market, so they can be tested during this year’s farmers’ market season. READ MORE
August 10, 2017, Morgan Hill, CA – Next week, Sakata Seed America will host its annual California Field Days in Salinas [August 14-16] and Woodland [August 16-18], Calif. This will be the 31st year Sakata has hosted the event, which continues to grow every year. “We began hosting these trials in the small field in Salinas back in 1986,” said John Nelson, sales and marketing director with the company. “Since, it’s continues to expand with our growing infrastructure and has become our largest vegetable event of the year, showcasing the best of Sakata’s genetics and serving host to our customers, media, retail and more. We look forward to celebrating 40 years of business in NAFTA at this year’s trials.” Those attending Sakata’s field days this year will see a few new modifications. Most notably, it will be the inaugural year Sakata will host its Woodland (warm-season crops – melon, onion, pepper, tomato, pumpkin, squash, watermelon) trials at the new Woodland Research Station; an investment in land, greenhouses, offices and other facilities slated for completion of the first phases in 2018. To learn more about Sakata’s Woodland development, check out the 40th Anniversary video. In Salinas (cool-season crops – broccoli, beet, spinach, etc.) trials, customers will be greeted with an updated Broccoli Master. This information-rich piece of literature serves as the ultimate reference guide for all things Sakata broccoli, including ideal varieties for every growing region and other important information for successful broccoli cultivation. “This will be the third generation of our Broccoli Master, and it has always been well-used by our dealers and growers alike,” said Matt Linder, senior broccoli product manager and Salinas Valley area sales manager. “It contains all the great information you need on our varieties right at your fingertips, and is heavy-duty enough to be kept in your truck or pocket when in the field. It’s been a few years since we’ve had an updated version, so we’re excited to include some great new additions we’ve recently added to our broccoli line, such as Millennium, Diamante, Eastern Magic, Eastern Crown and Emerald Star.” For a digital copy, visit Sakata’s website; physical copies will be debuted at next week’s trials, and available for direct mail thereafter.
August 2, 2017, Ottawa, Ont. - Domestic subsidies in many countries encourage production increases that result in considerable surpluses and lower prices on global markets, according to a new study released today by the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute (CAPI). The study also found these production increases fuel highly unsustainable production practices and the misallocation of natural resources.The comprehensive study, Understanding Agricultural Support, was prepared by Al Mussell, Douglas Hedley, Kamal Karunagoda, and Brenda Dyack of Agri-Food Economic Systems, with support from the Canadian Federation of Agriculture and Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. The report seeks a better understanding of the impacts of domestic income support programs in key markets and competitors on the competitiveness of Canada's agriculture and agri-food sector.
August 2, 2018, Guelph Ont. – Reducing food waste is not just the right thing to do; it’s also a way to improve business efficiency and profitability.That’s the outcome of a food waste reduction project spearheaded by the Ontario Produce Marketing Association (OPMA) with funding provided by Growing Forward 2.OPMA teamed up with Value Chain Management International (VCMI) to develop a workbook, prepare several case studies, and roll out a series of workshops to help OPMA members wrap their heads around how they can reduce waste in their businesses while making more money in the process.“This is to identify opportunities for improvement in the value chain; if you improve process, you automatically reduce waste in areas like labour, energy, product, packaging and transportation,” project lead Martin Gooch told participants in the Agricultural Adaptation Council’s summer tour on June 14. “This will position the Ontario produce industry as a leader in reducing food waste, but it’s also a business opportunity for the entire value chain.”The first Ontario industry case study was recently released, with three more nearing completion. The case study with a progressive Ontario potato supplier, EarthFresh Foods, clearly shows the business opportunity in addressing food waste: a 29 per cent increase in grade-out of potatoes results in a 74 per cent increase in producer margin.Most of the produce loss can be directly attributed to production practices, storage and handling, but addressing the problem requires a slight shift in thinking for farmers.“Farmers often look at what their production per acre is, but don’t connect that with how much is actually being marketed and that’s where they are paid,” he said. “If you can prevent that 29 per cent loss of product, that’s an overall $17,000 increase in return on a single trailer load of potatoes. Businesses also benefit from incurring lower costs.”To date, close to 100 people have participated in the waste reduction workshops developed by VCMI. The accompanying workbook uses a whole value chain perspective, and was designed to be an easy to use tool for businesses small and large with 10 easy steps to follow.“You don’t need to have a PhD in math or be a statistical genius to improve your business,” Gooch said. “It’s about identifying where the opportunities are, what the causes are, and how do we address those causes in a constructive way.”Overall, participants come away from the workshop with solutions they can use to improve performance in their businesses and no longer simply accept waste and “shrink” as part of doing business. Media interest in the initiative has been strong with global coverage, and other sectors, like meat processing, are making inquiries about applicability of the program to their industries.More information is available at www.theopma.ca.This project was funded in part through Growing Forward 2 (GF2), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists in the delivery of GF2 in Ontario.
July 14, 2017, Gainesville, FL – Some people love to eat a juicy, seedless watermelon for a tasty, refreshing snack during a hot summer day. University of Florida scientists have found a way to stave off potential diseases while retaining that flavour. Consumers increasingly savour the convenience and taste of seedless watermelons, said Xin Zhao, a UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences associate professor of horticultural sciences and lead author of a new study examining rootstocks, flavour and texture of watermelons. Many growers produce seedless cultivars because that’s what consumers want, and it’s important to maintain the fruit’s yield and taste, as seedless cultivars might be more susceptible to fusarium wilt, a major soil-borne disease issue in watermelon production, Zhao said. For the study, UF/IFAS researchers grafted seedless watermelon onto squash rootstocks to ward off soil-borne diseases, such as fusarium wilt. In plant grafting, scientists call the upper part of the plant the scion, while the lower part is the rootstock. In the case of vegetable grafting, a grafted plant comes from joining a vigorous rootstock plant – often with resistance or tolerance to certain soil-borne pathogens – with a scion plant with desirable aboveground traits. Grafting is a useful tool to manage soil-borne diseases, but in this study, researchers were concerned that if they grafted watermelon onto squash rootstocks, they might reduce its fruit quality and taste. Overall, study results showed no loss in taste and major fruit quality attributes, like total soluble solids and lycopene content, Zhao said. Consumers in UF taste panels confirmed the flavour remained largely consistent between grafted and non-grafted plant treatments under different production conditions. Furthermore, said Zhao, compared with the non-grafted seedless watermelons, plants grafted onto the squash rootstocks exhibited a consistently higher level of flesh firmness. “We are continuing our grafted watermelon research to optimize management of grafted watermelon production, maximize its full potential and seek answers to economic feasibility,” she said. Still to come is a paper that specifically tells researchers whether they warded off fusarium wilt under high disease pressure, Zhao said. Grafting with selected rootstocks as a cultural practice is viewed as an integrated disease management tool in the toolbox for watermelon growers to consider when dealing with fusarium wilt “hot spots” in the field, she said. However, most squash rootstocks are generally more susceptible to root-knot nematodes, a potential challenge with using grafted plants. Other UF/IFAS researchers are tackling that issue. The new UF/IFAS study is published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.
July 14, 2017, Durham, NH – Researchers with the New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station at the University of New Hampshire have succeeded in quadrupling the length of the strawberry growing season as part of a multi-year research project that aims to benefit both growers and consumers. Strawberry season in the Northeast U.S. traditionally lasts only four to six weeks. However, researchers working on the multi-state TunnelBerries project were picking day-neutral strawberries in Durham last November. Last year, researchers harvested strawberries grown in low tunnels for 19 consecutive weeks from mid-July through the week of U.S. Thanksgiving. They also found that the low tunnels significantly increased the percentage of marketable fruit, from an average of about 70 per cent to 83 per cent. Now in its second year, the TunnelBerries research project is being conducted at the UNH Woodman Horticultural Research Farm. It is part of a larger, multi-state U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded initiative to optimize protected growing environments for berry crops in the upper Midwest and northeastern United States. UNH’s component is focused on improving berry quality and the role day-neutral varieties may play in extending the length of strawberry season in the Northeast. “[Strawberries] are a very valuable early season crop for farmers,” said graduate student Kaitlyn Orde, who is working with experiment station researcher Becky Sideman on the project. “Unfortunately, though, this season is very brief, limiting the period in which … producers are able to meet consumer demand for the fresh fruit. A longer strawberry season is good for both grower and consumer.” The UNH project consists of two parts. Researchers want to determine the yield and fruiting duration of day-neutral strawberry varieties. Day-neutrals are a different plant-type than the traditional June-bearers; day-neutrals (or ever-bearing) have been shown to fruit continuously for four to six months in the region. In addition, day-neutrals fruit the same year they are planted, which is not the case with June-bearers. “We are growing one day-neutral variety on three different mulches to determine if there are any differences in total production, production patterns, runner production, and fruit characteristics among the mulches,” Orde said. “We also are investigating the role plastic covered low-tunnels play in improving berry quality, and what the microenvironment is within low tunnels, especially late season. To do this, we are evaluating five different plastics for the low tunnels.” Researchers in Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina, and New York have conducted preliminary research on similar systems. There also are limited growers in the Northeast who already cultivate day-neutral varieties, and even fewer who have experimented with low-tunnels in combination with the strawberry crop. For more information, visit www.tunnelberries.org.
June 27, 2017 – Why do the best fruits seem to have the shortest shelf life? It’s a challenge that plagues fresh fruit markets around the world, and has real implications for consumers and fruit growers.Now, new research from University of Guelph has led to the development of a product that extends the shelf life of fresh fruits by days and even weeks, and it is showing promise in food insecure regions around the world.“In people and in fruit, skin shrinks with age — it’s part of the life cycle, as the membranes start losing their tightness,” said Jay Subramanian, Professor of Tree Fruit Breeding and Biotechnology at the University of Guelph, who works from the Vineland research station. “Now we know the enzymes responsible for that process can be slowed.”The secret, according to Subramanian, is in hexanal, a compound that is naturally produced by every plant in the world. His lab has developed a formulation that includes a higher concentration of hexanal to keep fruit fresh for longer.Subramanian’s research team began experimenting with applying their formula to sweet cherry and peaches in the Niagara region. They found they were able to extend the shelf life of both fruits and spraying the formula directly on the plant prior to harvest worked as well as using it as a dip for newly harvested fruit.“Even one day makes a huge difference for some crops,” Subramanian said. “In other fruits like mango or banana you can extend it much longer.”Once the formula is available on the market, Subramanian sees applications on fruit farms across Ontario, including U-pick operations, where an extended season would be beneficial. But the opportunities could also make a significant impact on fruit markets around the world.Subramanian’s research team was one of only 19 projects worldwide awarded an exclusive research grant from the Canadian International Food Security Research Fund, a program governed by the International Development Research Centre and funded through Global Affairs Canada.The team used the funding to collaborate with colleagues in India and Sri Lanka on mango and banana production. Mangos are one of the top five most-produced fruits in the world, with 80 per cent of the production coming from South Asia. After more than three years, researchers learned that by spraying the formula on mangos before harvest, they were able to delay ripening by up to three weeks.“A farmer can spray half of his farm with this formulation and harvest it two or three weeks after the first part of the crop has gone to market,” Subramanian said. “It stretches out the season, the farmer doesn’t need to panic and sell all of his fruit at once and a glut is avoided. It has a beautiful trickle-down effect because the farmer has more leverage, and the consumer gets good, fresh fruit for a longer period.”The team is at work in the second phase of the project applying similar principles to banana crops in African and Caribbean countries, and hopes to also tackle papaya, citrus and other fruits.The formula has been licensed to a company that is completing regulatory applications and is expected to reach the commercial market within three years.
July 31, 2017, Milton, Ont. - It’s no secret — the lavender plant provides a bouquet of benefits. The fields are stunning, the blooms aromatic, and it has proven itself to be a versatile remedy for centuries, with oils rich in health benefits.So it’s really no surprise that the prized plant isn’t so bad for agri-tourism too.With about 40,000 plants, Terre Bleu Lavender Farm near Milton in Halton Region is now the largest lavender farm in Ontario. Their vast fragrant fields, handmade natural products, and charming open-air events bring heaps of visitors out year after year. And they’re only getting busier. (On some weekends now, they even reach capacity.) READ MORE 
July 28, 2017, North Carolina - Laura Lengnick is a big thinker on agriculture and the environment. She has been guided in her work by the understanding that the problems generated by the U.S. industrial food system have been as significant as its ability to produce vast quantities of food. As she sees it, it’s not enough to produce food if there’s not a reckoning of costs and benefits from an unbalanced system.This comprehensive outlook is a hallmark of Lengnick’s work, as is her positive vision for a more equitable and sustainable future. When it comes to her career, the question is not what work Lengnick has done to explore resilient, sustainable agriculture, but what hasn’t she done. Soil scientist, policymaker as a Senate staffer, USDA researcher, professor, sustainability consultant, advocate—Lengnick has done it all.With her home nestled in a sunny cove in the North Carolina mountains, she bio-intensively tends to her 3,000-square-foot micro-farm. (She grows everything from greens and radishes to figs and sweet potatoes.) Based on her rich experience and deep expertise, Lengnick now views herself as a science interpreter in her interactions with farmers, public officials and the public at large. (She calls it “science-in-place"). Lengnick is the author of many articles and papers for scholars, practitioners and the general public, including the useful and engaging book Resilient Agriculture: Cultivating Food Systems for a Changing Climate. She was also selected as a contributor to the Third National Climate Assessment, the authoritative U.S. climate report. Over the years she’s traveled throughout the United States to meet with farmers to investigate the challenges and successes in the field and present her findings to many different audiences. Most recently, Lengnick has been invited to collaborate with the world-renowned Stockholm Resilience Centre, which will bring her views to an even larger audience. In a series of conversations, Lengnick and I spoke about her background, career, and philosophy to better explain where she is today. READ MORE 
July 27, 2017, Vineland, Ont – It’s been 10 years since a new horticultural research facility in Niagara Region was launched as the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland).Since then, Vineland has been turning heads across Canada and internationally with its needs-based innovations. The organization reflects the entire horticulture value chain from farmers to consumers, and they’re not afraid to take big steps to help the industry solve problems.“We started by understanding what needed to be done and how we needed to work to make a difference, which is real results with real impact from acres in the field to shelf space in the store,” says Vineland’s CEO, Dr. Jim Brandle.Addressing the labour intensive nature of horticultural production was a need identified early on. Today, machines designed in Vineland’s robotics program and built in Ontario are coming into use in fruit and vegetable greenhouses, which Brandle says will go a long way in helping to keep growers competitive, as well as boost the local manufacturing and automation sector.Sweet potatoes, okra and Asian eggplant are offering new market opportunities for growers and consumers eager to eat more locally produced food.And Vineland’s rose breeding program made a big splash earlier this year when its Canadian Shield rose – a trademarked low-maintenance and winter hardy variety bred in Canada – was named Flower of the Year at Canada Blooms.Another significant milestone was the construction of the largest, most modern horticultural research greenhouse in North America with commercial-scale height and growing rooms dedicated to horticulture, which opened in 2016 and was built around the needs of Canada’s greenhouse vegetable and flower growers.“Today, we’re commercializing innovations, from the Canadian Shield rose to new apple and pear varieties,” Brandle says. “We are having the kind of impact that we sought in those early days.”Natural ways to control greenhouse pests – called biocontrols – are making a real difference to flower growers and a new technology that can identify genetic variants for traits in all plants has just been spun-off into a for-profit company.“We’re creating a reputation and that alone is an achievement because we’re the new kid on the block,” he says. “We have a ton of good people with and around the organization and on our board who are making this happen.”Vineland is an important partner to the horticulture industry, according to Jan VanderHout, a greenhouse vegetable grower and Chair of the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association.“They are very good at asking us what we want and taking a whole value chain approach to research and innovation,” VanderHout says. “You need the right facilities and expertise and Vineland fills that need to the benefit of the industry as a whole.”Looking to the future, both Brandle and VanderHout predict that cap and trade pressure and high energy costs will result in more work around energy use and carbon footprint reduction.And Vineland’s consumer-focused approaches will continue to drive new innovation, from high flavour greenhouse tomatoes to Ontario-grown apple varieties.“We will further lever consumer-driven plant breeding and work with the intent around pleasing consumers and trying to understand what they want so we can build that into our selection criteria,” Brandle says.
June 28, 2017, Toronto, Ont. - Schools are actively enrolling in Fresh from the Farm for September 2017. Building on the success of the four year pilot project, over 5000 schools representing 73 Ontario school boards, First Nations Schools and a sampling of private sector schools are eligible to participate in this year’s campaign. Since 2013, 665 schools have collectively distributed over 1.6 million pounds of fresh, Ontario produce, representing over $1 million in Ontario root vegetables and $600,000 in Ontario apples. Over $910,000 has been paid to Ontario farmers for product and delivery.Students raise funds by selling bundles of fresh, Ontario-grown potatoes, onions, carrots, sweet potatoes and apples. “Schools return to participate in Fresh from the Farm year after year, achieving significant profit for their school while helping to create a more supportive nutrition environment,” reports Cathy O’Connor, project co-ordinator with Dietitians of Canada, one of the program’s partners. “The top selling school this past year – Timmins Centennial Public School – raised over $9,000 in profit!”“As we launch the fifth season of the Fresh from the Farm campaign to include new school boards and First Nations communities in Ontario, we continue to be amazed by the growth of the program. It would not be possible without the collective effort of all our partners including the volunteers, schools and farmers that make it happen,” states Dan Tukendorf, program manager, Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association.The program was designed to provide schools and students a healthy fundraising alternative. Fresh from the Farm supports and integrates several Ontario government priorities, including Ontario’s Food and Nutrition Strategy, 2017, The School Food and Beverage Policy and the Local Food Act, 2013. “Our government is proud to invest in programs like Fresh from the Farm which help boost local food literacy with students across the province. I encourage Ontario students and families to take part in this unique fundraising program and learn more about the good things grown in our province, while supporting our growers and building up our schools,” says Jeff Leal, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.Students fundraise September 5 through to October 11 with deliveries scheduled throughout November. Parent volunteers bundle produce the same day the Ontario grower delivers the product to the school. Fresh from the Farm provides an ideal opportunity for schools to introduce the topic of agri-food and healthy eating into the classroom. Interested parents, educators and students can contact their school principal to enrol at www.freshfromfarm.ca/Enrol.aspx
June 12, 2017, Victoria, B.C. - The Investment Agriculture Foundation of B.C. (IAF) announced last night that Kirk Homenick, President of Naturally Homegrown Foods, is the recipient of the inaugural B.C. Buy Local Award of Excellence for his campaign, 'A Chip Close to Home.'"Every year we are thrilled to see how the Buy Local program is helping to boost producer and processor market success, and I'm proud to say that our award recipient tonight exemplifies this achievement," said IAF director Alistair Johnston. "This project continues to have a profound impact, not only on the local agrifood market but on B.C.'s economy."Naturally Homegrown Foods is home to the Hardbite line of potato and root vegetable products, the only potato chip to be produced and processed in B.C. Seeking to differentiate Hardbite in the highly competitive snack food category, Homenick launched a unique and bold Buy Local rebranding campaign that marketed distinctly west coast lifestyle attributes and offered transparency to locally-sourced ingredients."It's wonderful to be recognized for our efforts to promote local foods and create jobs in B.C.," says Homenick. "Since 2014, Naturally Homegrown Foods has tripled sales, which means triple the procurement of raw vegetables from the local marketplace."The BC Buy Local Award of Excellence recognizes one outstanding producer or processor based on the achievements of the best Buy Local marketing project--the campaign that was the most creative, strategic and effective in increasing sales and consumer engagement. This year's winner was announced on June 8th at the BC Food Processors Association's FoodProWest Gala in Vancouver.In addition to the winner, the Selection Committee recognized two Honourable Mentions-- Merissa Myles, Co-Founder of Tree Island Gourmet Yogurt, for using Buy Local funding to connect with grocery buyers, celebrity chefs and consumers about the benefits of buying 100% BC milk dairy; and Robert Pringle, CEO of the United Flower Growers Cooperative Association, who spearheaded the 'Flowerful BC' initiative to encourage consumers to 'pick local' when buying plants and flowers."We are proud to recognize the achievements of our nominees and the opportunities they are driving, not just for the agrifood industry but for local consumers and the B.C. economy," said Johnston. "We are continually inspired by the ingenuity of our project partners and their success in motivating British Columbians to buy local."
May 30, 2017, Montreal, QC - Forty years ago, when few people had even heard of organic gardening, Yves Gagnon decided to make it his mission.Today this true green gardening pioneer is receiving the recognition he deserves, as he will be presented with the Henry Teuscher Award as part of the 20th Great Gardening Weekend at the Montréal Botanical Garden.Among his most noteworthy accomplishments, of course, are Les jardins du Grand-Portage, in Saint-Didace, where Yves and his wife, Diane Mackay, offered country-style meals for many years. In this two-acre space, he created an organic vegetable garden and designed English- and Oriental-style gardens where he grows medicinal and ornamental plants as well as vegetables and herbs.Many interns have joined him there over the years to further their training and draw inspiration from this great visionary's experience.After meeting Brother Armand Savignac in the 1980s, Yves began producing seeds as well. His daughter Catherine, who launched her own company called Semences du Portage, now handles the marketing aspect, offering open-pollinated organic heritage seeds grown by her parents in Saint-Didace and by other Quebec producers.From the outset, Yves' books on horticulture became key reference works on organic gardening in Quebec.They are regularly updated and republished, and have continued to influence new generations of gardeners. He has also made it his mission to educate others about health and food self-sufficiency, and has appeared on many television and radio programs as a columnist or guest expert.In fact, the interest among today's youth in ecology and healthy eating is due in part to pioneers like Yves Gagnon and their devotion and enthusiasm in communicating their values, even at a time when they were not so popular.
August 16, 2017, Ottawa, Ont. - Canadian fruit growers need the best varieties of plants to be successful. In the case of Canadian strawberry growers, they grow the best varieties of plants, which foreign buyers demand. The import and export of fruit plants, however, must go through the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to test for potentially devastating plant viruses. Currently, this testing and quarantine process takes an average of three years to complete, significantly hampering the speed of trade.Today, the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, announced that the CFIA will lead two projects worth $500,000 that use new DNA-based technologies to reduce the quarantine testing time, helping to boost trade and economic competitiveness in the $240 million Canadian fruit tree industry."Together with provincial partners and industry, our government is making the investments in innovative science that enables agriculture to be a leading growth sector of Canada's economy. Together we can help meet the world's growing demand for high-quality, sustainable food and help grow our middle class," Minister MacAulay, said. The first project will dramatically shorten the testing period of seeds, cuttings and bulbs imported into Canada to grow new varieties of plants. With this funding, scientists will use DNA technology to test for all viruses associated with imported plants to get an early indication of any plant diseases present. This approach could reduce the quarantine testing time by up to two and a half years.The second project streamlines the testing of strawberry plants. Traditionally, multiple tests for viruses are required before exporting strawberry plants to foreign markets. This project will test for multiple viruses in one single test, dramatically reducing the time and cost to get plants to market.Funding for these projects is provided through a partnership between the CFIA, Genome British Columbia, Summerland Varieties Corporation, Phyto Diagnostics, the British Columbia Cherry Association, and Vineland Research and Innovations Centre."Canadian import/export markets will be stronger and more competitive because of these genomics-based tools. Early detection of pathogens and viruses is a vital outcome of genomics and it is being applied across many key economic sectors." Dr. Catalina Lopez-Correa, Chief Scientific Officer and Vice President, Genome British Columbia said. 
July 10, 2017, Quebec - Though cool, wet weather slowed Quebec’s early strawberry production and kept customers waiting longer than they would have liked, the results of the extended growing period are looking spectacular.“June berries are right on time,” said Jennifer Crawford, interim director of the Quebec Strawberry and Raspberry Growers Association, which represents nearly 500 producers, “and we’re seeing beautiful, productive plants with tons of flowers and large berries.”Joey Boudreault, business development manager for the Onésime Pouliot farm in Saint-Jean-de-l’Île-d’Orléans, Quebec, finished planting day neutral berries for the fall in mid-June and began harvesting June berries June 20. READ MORE
July 7, 2017, Quebec - Though it’s too early to tell, Quebec apple growers are set for a good season, said Stephanie Lavasseur, president of Longueuil-based Quebec Apple Producers.Last year’s crop is almost finished, said Lavasseur, and Quebec apples should be available until the end of July.According to this year’s annual poll to measure the awareness and popularity of apples among Quebecers, McIntosh and Honeycrisp remain popular, with macs far ahead of other favorites. For the first time, Granny Smith apples fell off the top five list. READ MORE
June 30, 2017, Simcoe, Ont. - Lydia Tomek, head winemaker at Burning Kiln Winery, isn’t one to hold back on her opinions. Not about wine. Not about agriculture. And not about the job her team of women do at Burning Kiln winery near Long Point, on the north shore of Lake Erie.Winemaking is traditionally a male dominated profession. But Burning Kiln is heavily tilted toward the female side of the equation, with six of the most senior employees being women.“I think women are better workers and are more creative and more flexible,” Tomek tells me on the sunny patio of her winery near the shores of Lake Erie, just up the hill from Turkey Point Beach. “Forget equal pay, we should be paid more.”Tomek notes that the women of Burning Kiln (I’m thinking they need a hashtag, maybe #WOBKROCK or something) are different ages and are at different stages of their lives. She has a young child at home to worry about. READ MORE
June 22, 2017, Toronto, Ont. – Building on two years of success, Brewery Discovery Routes are back, with four new itineraries to explore and hundreds of stops along the way. Nearly doubling in size since 2016, Brewery Discovery Routes combine craft beer and cider with local food and stunning natural beauty on itineraries travelling through the countryside, small towns and big cities.Itineraries include the Windsor Essex Barrels Bottles & Brews route and the Saints and Sinners route in south Georgian Bay, which feature Ontario's Prohibition history. Taps, Tastes & Trails in the Guelph area includes Canada's oldest independently-owned microbrewery, and Rural Routes & Dirty Boots in Durham region mixes craft beverages with artisanal sweets to offer beer butter tarts, beer brittle and cider doughnuts. All itineraries can be found at www.brewerydiscoveryroutes.ca and 250,000 printed maps are being distributed across the GTA.Brewery Discovery Routes are a successful partnership between the Greenbelt Fund, Ontario Craft Brewers, Ontario Craft Cider Association, Ontario Beverage Network, Feast On, and regional tourism offices throughout Ontario. The routes encourage Ontarians to choose more local, more often, supporting Ontario's $36B agricultural sector and the burgeoning craft beverage industry."Last summer we were a brand new company, in a small town tucked away between Toronto and cottage country. The Brewery Discovery Routes literally put us on the map and brought thousands of new visitors to our door - many of whom went on to discover Uxbridge's shops, restaurants and trails," said Joanne Richter, owner of The Second Wedge Brewing Co., on the Rural Routes and Dirty Boots route."Brewery Discovery Routes are the very best in curated culinary itineraries, taking Ontarians through cities, towns and rural countryside with stops for delicious food and drink along the way," said Burkhard Mausberg, CEO of the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation and Greenbelt Fund. "The stops on the routes make very clear the difference local makes, offering true taste of place and one of a kind travel experiences here in Ontario."Participants are encouraged to share photos of their experience on Instagram or Twitter using #BrewRoutes17 to be automatically entered in a draw to win a gourmet weekend for two on a Brewery Discovery adventure, a dinner for two at Langdon's Hall or brewery tours for 10 at select breweries.While sampling is part of any brewery tour, participants are reminded to drink responsibly and establish a designated driver if touring the Discovery Routes by car. Most breweries, cideries and distilleries have bottle shops on site so visitors can take their favourite craft beverage home to enjoy.For further information: Contact for Greenbelt Fund: Fran Pairaudeau, Project Manager, Brewery Discovery Routes, 647-331-9464, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
June 8, 2017, Halifax, NS – Atlantic Canada wine is the focus for more than 200 industry experts attending the Atlantic Canada Wine Symposium (ACWS) at the Westin Nova Scotian Hotel from June 11 to 13, 2017. The three-day symposium will provide an educational opportunity for existing and interested industry professionals to learn more about current topics specific to the wine industry on the East Coast. “We are Canada’s emerging wine region here on the East Coast, and we have come a long way since the last symposium was held back in 2012,” says Gillian Mainguy, executive director of the Winery Association of Nova Scotia. “The number of Atlantic Canada wineries has increased by 50 per cent in five short years, which is a testament to the potential for growing grapes in our region.” This year’s ACWS welcomes more than 40 high-profile speakers from around the world. London-based wine writer, lecturer, wine judge and author Jamie Goode will present the keynote address on June 12. Goode has a PhD in plant biology and has worked as a science editor. Goode also started the popular wine website, wineanorak.com. His address will provide advice on marketing Atlantic Canada as an emerging wine region. Other prominent speakers include Stephen Skelton, Master of Wine; Johannes Kruetten, Clemens Technologies; Paul Wagner, Balzac Communications & Marketing, San Francisco, CA., as well as Alice Feiring, writer and controversial figure in the natural wine movement. "With the expansion of acreage in full swing here in Nova Scotia and the surrounding area, it's a timely thing this meeting of the mind … to help ensure that this emerging wine region is in pursuit of the cutting edge that will truly put us on the global wine map,” says Scott Savoy, symposium panel speaker and vineyard manager of Benjamin Bridge. The 2017 symposium includes workshops, winery tours, wine tastings and a supplier marketplace showcasing innovative exhibitor products and services. With a diverse audience of delegates attending, the symposium is an opportunity for winemakers, vineyard managers, grape growers, winery owners, journalists, sommeliers, and educators to learn more about the Atlantic Canada wine industry. For more information about registration as well as a complete list of events and visiting speakers for the ACWS, please visit atlanticwinesymposium.ca.
August 16, 2017, Lethbridge, Alta. - Alberta’s potato industry is worth more than $1 billion to our economy. But it’s threatened by a tiny bacteriumThis year, a Lethbridge scientist reports, it hasn’t shown up.“That’s good news,” says Dan Johnson, a biogeography professor at the University of Lethbridge. He explains the bacteria are linked with zebra chip disease – already affecting crops in the U.S., Mexico and New Zealand. It turned up as early as May in Idaho this year.Potatoes infected by the bacteria develop unsightly black lines when they’re fried, making them unfit for sale. The bacteria are carried by an insect, the potato psyllid. READ MORE
August 11, 2017, Langley, BC – There are more than 24,000 people employed in British Columbia’s agriculture industry and sun and heat exposure are workplace hazards for many of them. Agriculture workers have a 2.5 to 3.5 times greater risk of developing skin cancer than indoor workers, according to a Sun Safety At Work Canada 2016 report. Employers are responsible for addressing this risk. AgSafe, BC’s agriculture health and safety association, suggests the best way to reduce the risk of sun and heat exposure in the workplace is to implement a sun and heat safety action plan for outside workers. “There are resources available for those who employ outdoor workers to help them develop and implement a sun and heat safety plan,” says Wendy Bennett, executive director of AgSafe. “The key is controlling the worker’s exposure to sun and the possibility of heat stress.” Checking Environment Canada’s UV index regularly to monitor worker risk and providing a shade structure, where practical or enabling shade breaks on the worksite will help reduce the effects of sun exposure. Scheduling heavy work outside of the hottest times of the day – before 11 a.m. and after 3 p.m. – when UV levels are lower, along with regular “cool-down” rest periods, will help reduce the risk of heat stress. Knowing the signs of heat stress – decrease in alertness, extreme fatigue, nausea, dizziness, confusion, muscle cramps, and fast shallow breathing, is very important and should be acted upon immediately if they present. Bennett adds that the risk of heat stress is higher when employees are working outdoors with equipment that gives off heat. Tips to avoid sun exposure and heat stress: Wear loose-fitting tightly woven or UV-protective labelled clothing; wide brimmed hats that shade the face, ears and neck; apply sunscreen throughout the day Wear sunglasses to protect eyes from UV rays Hydrate regularly with water Take breaks in the shade Additional sun and heat safety information is available by visiting www.SunSafetyAtWork.ca or www.Weather.gc.ca.
July 13, 2017, P.E.I. - This year’s Canadian acreage of J.R. Simplot’s genetically engineered Innate potato will be “very small” to non-existent, according to a company spokesperson.Kerwin Bradley, director of commercial innovation for Simplot, says the company’s marketing strategy for new varieties is based on customer polls and identification of marketing channels. “We don’t plant potatoes, or give seed to growers, until we know that there is a place for them to sell them, so how quickly that develops depends on how quickly we develop routes to market for those potatoes,” he says.“That way we ensure we keep the risk really low for everybody, especially the growers.”The company has been talking to major Canadian retailers to “check the pulse” of their interest in the new potato, says Doug Cole, Simpot’s director of marketing and communications.First generation lines of the Innate potato, which boast lower bruising and acrylamide, were approved by Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency last spring. Second generation lines, which have late blight resistance and lower sugar levels for improved processing, have already been approved in the U.S., and Canadian approvals are expected later this year. READ MORE
July 11, 2017, Quebec - Though seemingly endless rain, flooding and cold weather delayed the start of the Quebec season by at least a week compared to the past two years, a warm spell in June put some crops back on track.“We’re a little late but it could have been worse,” said Andre Plante, executive director of the Quebec Produce Growers Association, who expected some crops to catch up by the end of June.By June 9, with the incentive of a strong exchange rate, growers were already exporting radishes, leaf lettuce and asparagus, Plante said.“Since 2012 we have doubled our exports to 48 per cent of what we grow,” he said, “and that will probably increase this year.” READ MORE
July 5, 2017, Norfolk, Ont. - Several Ontario potato growers are focusing on organics this year, while the demand for new conventional varieties continues to grow.Bill Nightingale Jr., president of Nightingale Farms in La Salette, Ontario, has partnered with neighboring grower Aaron Crombez to grow and pack 70 acres of certified organic potatoes under his Norfolk Organics label.“During our local season, about 80 per cent of Ontario’s organic potatoes come from British Columbia and Prince Edward Island,” Nightingale said.He plans to start harvesting in July and hopes to have organics until January, or whenever supplies run out.“It gives us something to do in late fall and winter to put more pallets on the truck,” he said.Trevor Downey, owner of Shelburne, Ontario-based Downey Potato Farms, an hour north of Toronto, is excited about his new organic farm within Rock Hill Park.He plans to increase his organic acreage by 25 per cent this year for the Downey Farms Organic and Loblaw’s PC Organic label. READ MORE
June 29, 2017, Holland Marsh, Ont. - Farmers in the Holland Marsh area spent the weekend scrambling to pump water off their fields and save their crops after heavy rainfall.The rain reached its peak on Friday when a storm unleashed a total of 36.2 mm of precipitation in the region. Fields were drowned by flash floods. READ MORE

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