Production

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
Pete Luckett is a British-Canadian entrepreneur, media personality plus a dynamic speaker. A native of Nottingham, England, Luckett immigrated to Canada in 1979, settling eventually in Nova Scotia.
If you ask a group of random Canadians about whether they trust farmers and Canada’s food system on the whole, you’ll likely hear a variety of responses.
March 24, 2017, Kentville, NS – Loblaws recently recognized Pazazz apple with its top honour – selection as a President’s Choice product. President’s Choice status is only bestowed on produce and other food items that demonstrate truly exceptional quality, taste and great value to customers. Grown locally in Canada by Van Meekeren Farms, Pazazz is a premium winter apple variety and has been in development in conjunction with Honeybear Brands for more than nine years. A descendent of the crowd-pleasing Honeycrisp, Pazazz has a unique blend of sweet and tart flavours and explosive crunch that has attracted a loyal following of customers in just a few short years on the market. “Each year there are literally hundreds of candidates for President’s Choice status,” says Mark Boudreau, director of corporate affairs for Loblaws Atlantic. “We consider each very carefully for perfect taste, appearance, premium quality and a uniqueness they offer to our Loblaws customers. Pazazz scored highly across the board and was an easy selection for us to make.” Available now, Pazazz will be sold in 2lb special President’s Choice branded bags in select Loblaws stores while supplies last. “This is a huge honour and we’re very excited,” says Michael Van Meekeren, co-owner of Van Meekeren Farms. “Pazazz is a young variety compared to many available today and because it’s a winter variety that peaks in flavour in the winter months, it gives apple lovers something that is very difficult to get at this time of year – a premium apple variety with that just-picked freshness.”  Pazazz is harvested in late October but reaches the perfect balance of sweet and tart flavours during the winter months, arriving on Loblaws and other retailer shelves in early January each year. This season the variety has shattered all retail goals and expectations. For more information about Pazazz or Honeybear Brands visit PazazzApple.com or honeybearbrands.com.
Incredible. Unbelievable. Disneyland.
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.
June 19, 2017, Agassiz, BC – Dr. Rishi Burlakoti has joined the Agassiz Research and Development Centre (ARDC), bringing with him more than 10 years of experience in plant pathology. His research will address the new and existing diseases of high value horticultural crops, focusing mainly on small fruits and vegetable crops. Prior to joining the ARDC team, Dr. Burlakoti led the mycology and bacteriology units at the World Vegetable Centre in Taiwan. He focused on global fungal and bacterial diseases of solanaceous vegetables (e.g. tomato, pepper, eggplant). From 2010 to 2016, he worked as a plant pathologist and research lead at Weather Innovations Consulting LP, an agricultural consulting company based in Ontario, where he led several applied research projects and provided consulting services to sector organizations and agri-food businesses in Canada, the United States, and Europe. Dr. Burlakoti also worked as a Postdoctoral scientist in the Wild Blueberry Research Program at Dalhousie University in 2009, and in the Barley Pathology Program at North Dakota State University in 2008. Dr. Burlakoti is serving as an editor for two international journals: Plants and Archives of Phytopathology and Plant Protection. He is also a member of the Canadian Phytopathological Society, the American Phytopathological Society, and the Canadian Society for Horticultural Science. He is an adjunct faculty at Plant Agriculture, University of Guelph. Dr. Burlakoti will be at the ARDC’s open house on July 22. Drop by to meet him and the rest of the centre’s staff as we celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday. Alternatively, you can reach him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 604-796-6011.
June 16, 2017, Boise, ID - In Idaho, potatoes are both a humble stereotype and a half-billion dollar crop. According to the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation, every spring farmers plant more than 320,000 acres of potatoes valued at between $550-$700 million. Yet unbeknownst to most consumers, roughly 30 percent of the potatoes harvested spoil before they reach a grocery store shelf.Boise State University researchers Harish Subbaraman, David Estrada and Yantian Hou hope to change that. In a recently awarded one-year $413,681 Idaho Global Entrepreneurial Mission (IGEM) grant, Boise State is collaborating with Idaho State University and industry partners Isaacs Hydropermutation Technologies, Inc (IHT) and Emerson to develop a wireless sensor network that would be able to detect temperature, humidity levels, and carbon dioxide and ammonia levels in real time, to help with early detection of rot. The cloud-enabled sensor system will feature three-dimensional hot spot visualization and help predict on-coming rot or deteriorating quality of stored potatoes. This will allow owners to use the real-time sensor data, along with a miniature air scrubber system IHT is developing, to respond to potential problems quickly, as they develop.“The current problem is, there are no sensors that can do early detection of rot,” said Subbaraman, an assistant professor of electrical engineering. “But if you can identify rot at an early stage, you can prevent crop loss on a large scale.”“Rot spreads on contact. The way the system works now is, a farmer walks into their facility, smells rotten potatoes and that’s it,” added Estrada, an assistant professor of materials science. “But our sensors can detect parts per million, or even parts per billion, and can tell us in exactly which bin the sensor is detecting rot. That way, farmers can go out, pull out a few rotten potatoes and save the rest of the batch.”Estrada explained that the cost of printing sensors could be as low as a few dollars apiece. Not only would the monitoring system hopefully prevent waste, it could help preserve the quality of potatoes in the facility.Subbaraman and Estrada plan to have their sensors tested in a facility by the end of their year-long grant cycle by working with industry partner Emerson PakSense. But Estrada points out that this project has been three years in the making and will continue long past the IGEM grant.“The College of Business and Economics and the College of Engineering have been invested in building a printed electronics community in Idaho for several years,” Estrada said. “Most recently, our Advanced Nanomaterials and Manufacturing Laboratory has partnered with the NASA Ames Research Center, Air Force Research Labs, and American Semiconductor to develop flexible electronics technologies.” Subbaraman noted, “We’re also very interested in partnering with others interested in this technology. It’s a great economic impact for the state and we see that growing in the future.”Not only would the cloud-enabled wireless sensory system save Idaho farmers millions in revenue, it could have a billion-dollar impact on the national potato industry and help address larger socio-economic issues such as food scarcity in parts of the world.“The benefit of this system is it’s extremely low cost,” Subbaraman added. “This dual detection and air scrubbing system could later be extended to other stored crops as well.”
June 9, 2017, Winnipeg, Man. - Researchers with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada are setting the stage for what may be a new entry into the Canadian-grown "super" food market.Lingonberries are already popular in Scandinavian cuisine where they are used in sauces for chicken and pork, as well as in muffins and breads. Small, tart and slightly sweet, they are native to British Columbia, Manitoba, and Atlantic Canada and have the potential to become a valuable crop for Canadian growers.The lingonberry is closely related to the blueberry and cranberry, which are also high in anti-oxidants. The benefits of lingonberries and their juice may go even further: preliminary studies in Sweden suggest there is potential to help prevent weight gain, and to help prevent high sugar and cholesterol levels.But there’s more! New research from Dr. Chris Siow, Research Scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and principal investigator with the Canadian Centre for Agri-Food Research in Health and Medicine (CCARM), located at St. Boniface Hospital, is showing that lingonberries may also contribute to healthy kidneys.Here’s how: during kidney surgery, including transplants, kidneys experience low oxygen, and when oxygen is returned to the organ there can be inflammation and damage. In tests using lab rats Dr. Siow’s research team fed one millilitre (the human-equivalent of one cup) of Manitoba lingonberry juice daily for three weeks to one group and none to another prior to kidney surgery. The rats that had consumed lingonberry juice had improved kidney function, reduced kidney stress and reduced inflammation following the operation in comparison to those that had none. These results also showed that as the concentration of lingonberry increased, the protective effect also increased.“Overall, the research data obtained from these studies is very promising and we are encouraged that we may have a commodity that has positive impacts on human health,” said Dr. Siow. “We plan to continue with our studies to validate the early results and look for additional benefits the berry may provide.”Meanwhile across the country, research on the lingonberry plant itself is taking place. Work with lingonberry production and germplasm enhancement is being done at AAFC’s St. John’s Research and Development Centre (NL) under the leadership of Dr. Samir Debnath. He has been working in collaboration with Dr. Siow. “Lingonberry will be a potential health-promoting berry crop for Canada” said Dr. Debnath who developed a number of promising hybrids between European and Canadian lingonberries. Dr. Debnath is also working in collaboration with the Newfoundland and Labrador provincial government and with Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) growers for growing lingonberry hybrids under field conditions.Drs. Debnath and Siow not only believe that this berry will be beneficial to consumers – especially when studies like his continue to produce positive results – but that lingonberries will also be of interest to growers as they may provide new business opportunities.Key discoveries: Lingonberries contain more anthocyanins, the pigments that give them their red colour, per gram than most commonly consumed berries (i.e., blueberries, cranberries). It is these compounds that may provide health benefits. Lingonberries are rich in vitamins and minerals. Lingonberries can be found growing wild in the northern regions of Canada. Research shows that the lingonberries grown in Northern Manitoba contain the highest levels of antioxidants.
May 30, 2017, Victoriaville, QC - The Government of Canada is investing $4.28 million in a project at Cégep de Victoriaville. Federal funding is allocated through the Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund, which will enhance and modernize research facilities on Canadian campuses and improve the environmental sustainability of these facilities.Cégep de Victoriaville will use the funds to establish an organic agriculture research facility. The facility will include multi-purpose buildings and greenhouses where work will be done in plant breeding and organic fruit and vegetable production, enabling Canada to be more competitive in the organic food market.Operations of this new research infrastructure will be managed by the cégep's Centre d'expertise et de transfert en agriculture biologique et de proximité (centre of expertise and knowledge transfer in organic agriculture and local farming).A total of $9.62 million is being invested in this project: The Government of Canada is providing $4.28 million Cégep de Victoriaville and other partners are providing $5.34 million
May 25, 2017, Palm Desert, Calif. - Armed with new data from the 2017 Fresh Trends consumer survey, Greg Johnson and Pamela Riemenschneider kicked off the West Coast Produce Expo with a lively 45-minute interactive produce quiz show that examined consumer trends on avocados, kale, watermelon, berries and organic produce.Johnson, editor of The Packer and editorial director of Farm Journal Media’s produce group, and Riemenschneider, editor of Produce Retailer, first took up statistics around the emergence of kale as a trendy item at the May 20 event.Using instant polling technology with radio frequency identification clickers, Riemenschneider asked the West Coast Produce Expo audience if they purchased kale. With 59% of the audience indicating they buy kale, she said The Packer’s Fresh Trends showed just 17% of about 1,000 consumers surveyed said they bought kale in the last year.However, kale retail promotions are up more than 350% compared with five years ago and per-capita kale availability has surged 50% since 2000, Riemenschneider said. The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines availability as production, minus average shrink for specific commodities.Kale is the No.1 purchased organic fresh produce category, with more than 50% of consumers stating they buy organic exclusively or buy both organic and conventional kale, according to Fresh Trends. READ MORE
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.
December 8, 2016, Niagara Falls, Ont – Andrew and Jennifer Lovell of Keswick Ridge, NB, and Dominic Drapeau and Célia Neault of Ste-Françoise-de-Lotbinière, QC, have been named Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers (OYF) for 2016. These two farm families were chosen from seven regional farm couples across Canada at OYF’s national event last week in Niagara Falls, Ont. Both families have dreamed of owning their own farm since they were young and were not afraid to make changes and embrace technology along the way. Their entrepreneurial spirits and adaptability has made them successful both on and off the farm. “All of this year’s regional honourees have shown us their incredible passion for agriculture,” says OYF President Luanne Lynn. “It was extremely difficult for the judges to make their decision, but ultimately our winners stood out for their state-of-the art thinking and commitment to the future of Canadian agriculture.” The Lovell’s story is different than most because neither of them grew up on a farm. In 2012 they purchased their farm, River View Orchards, with roots tracing back to 1784, and created a diversified you-pick farm market operation. It wasn’t an easy start as they suffered $100,000 in damage in 2014, but they persevered and adapted their plans until they were able to begin full production again. By offering fence and trellis construction services and building attractions that brought more than 1,400 visitors to their farm, they were able to carry on with the farm they have always dreamed of. Drapeau and Neault are third-generation dairy and field crop farmers who are not afraid to make changes and embrace technology. Raised in a farming family, Dominic got involved in the family business at a young age. When he was 16, he was performing artificial insemination on cows and developed his management skills by taking over the herd and feeding responsibilities. In the barn they use genomic testing on young animals, motion detectors for reproduction, a smart scale on the mixer-feeder and temperature probes close to calving. In the fields, the farm uses a satellite navigation system for levelling, draining, seeding, fertilizing and spraying. With these innovations over the last four years, they have enabled the farm to increase overall yields by five to 10 per cent each year. “The national event in Niagara Falls this year was a great opportunity to showcase all of the great contributions to Canadian agriculture,” says Lynn. “All of the regional OYF honourees really went outside of the box and pushed the boundaries this year.” Every year this event brings recognition to outstanding farm couples in Canada between 18 and 39 years of age who have exemplified excellence in their profession while fostering better urban-rural relations. The Lovell’s and Drapeau/Neault were chosen from seven regional finalists, including the following honourees from the other five regions: Brian & Jewel Pauls, Chilliwack BC Shane & Kristin Schooten, Diamond City AB Dan & Chelsea Erlandson, Outlook SK Jason & Laura Kehler, Carman MB Adrian & Jodi Roelands, Lambton Shores ON Celebrating 36 years, Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers’ program is an annual competition to recognize farmers that exemplify excellence in their profession and promote the tremendous contribution of agriculture. Open to participants 18 to 39 years of age, making the majority of income from on-farm sources, participants are selected from seven regions across Canada, with two national winners chosen each year. The program is sponsored nationally by CIBC, John Deere, Bayer, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada through Growing Forward 2, a federal, provincial, territorial initiative. The national media sponsor is Annex Business Media, and the program is supported nationally by AdFarm, BDO and Farm Management Canada.
November 11, 2016, Toronto, Ont – The late Jas. C (Jim) Bartlett plus Robert (Bob) Switzer and John Willmott were officially inducted into the Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame at a special awards banquet on Nov. 6, 2016 in conjunction with the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. “This year we are celebrating three outstanding ambassadors for Canadian agriculture who channeled their passion and leadership into significant advancements for our entire industry,” said Herb McLane, president of the Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame Association. “They are visionaries within their sectors of the industry, and share a drive and dedication to work endlessly and tirelessly to make a lasting difference in the landscape of Canadian agriculture. Their work continues to benefit the horticulture and livestock industries, and the communities where they live.” The late James (Jim) Bartlett – nominated by Dow AgroSciences – devoted his career to advancing the Canadian horticulture industry. Jim was born into the family business – N.M. Bartlett Inc. – and from an early age worked alongside his father, Norman. The Bartlett business blossomed under Jim’s leadership to become the only national horticultural crop protection distributor in Canada. Jim served as president for 17 years until his retirement in 1987, bringing the next generations into the family business. As the family business grew, Jim advocated tirelessly for the horticulture sector on cross border importation. He championed the first minor use registration of pesticides program in Canada in 1977, and was an early promoter of the need for new crop protection products to serve the small acre crops that make us Canada’s diverse horticulture industry. Jim was chair of the national organization now known as CropLife Canada, and helped created the CropLife Ontario Council. He helped bring what is now the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Convention to Ontario. Jim was a visionary, passionate advocate and a respected voice in Canadian agriculture. Eight of his grandchildren are involved as the fourth generations of Bartletts in the business. Jim passed away in 2011, one year shy of the 100th anniversary celebrations of the Bartlett family business. The Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame Association (CAHFA) honours and celebrates Canadians for outstanding contributions to the agriculture and food industry. Portraits are on display in the Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame gallery, located at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. The CAHFA also publicizes the importance of inductee achievements to Canada. The association was organized in 1960 and is administered by 12 volunteer board of directors located across Canada.
  Earlier this year, Willowtree Farm opened the doors to its new 8,300 square foot building, a beautiful, well planned, authentic, and inviting building featuring a 4,300 square foot retail market. To those who are not in the know, it may look like an overnight success story, but this story has been in the making for more than 25 years. It all began with Rod MacKay. Always a farmer at heart, Rod bought the land where the market is located, just outside of Port Perry, Ont., when he was 19. Upon graduating from the University of Guelph, Rod became a full-time dairy farmer for more than 20 years. He also met, fell in love with, and married Marlene. Marlene grew up on a strawberry farm and was passionate about the tasty berries. In 1979, Rod surprised Marlene by planting four acres of strawberry plants. She was thrilled and started selling her beloved strawberries out of a wagon on the side of the road. Gradually, the number of acres of strawberries grew and other fruits and vegetables were introduced. In order to sell all this produce, Marlene explored the concept of going to farmers’ markets. She was a true marketer at heart and thrived in this setting. As the acres of produce grew, so did the number of farmers’ markets they attended. At its peak, Willowtree was participating in 15 markets throughout the Greater Toronto Area. In 1990, Marlene and Rod decided to build a proper market building on the farm. As the focus on fruits and vegetables continued, there was less time for the dairy cows. In 1993, the herd was sold. Marlene and Rod had two sons – Jordan and Alex. From a young age, they helped out at markets but did not see a future for themselves on the farm. For several years, both travelled the world for business and pleasure but eventually returned when they were needed and settled back on the farm. Jordan and Alex perfectly complement each other’s strengths. Alex is passionate about growing great food and Jordan is a marketer by nature and enjoys dealing with the details that come with selling food. As both sons married, the farm needed to support three families. They started growing more produce, going to more farmers’ markets, implementing a Community Shared Agriculture program, developing a maple syrup operation, and raising sheep. Today, they grow more than 30 crops on approximately 600 acres. In 2015, Marlene passed away from a rare form of cancer. But her dream was only just beginning to blossom. Working with John Stanley, a direct marketing consultant, a plan was developed for a new market building. Willowtree desperately needed more space and a better venue from which to sell the meat that was raised on the farm. Jordan had participated in OFFMA’s bus tour to England in 2011 and was inspired by the on-farm markets that also had a fresh meat counter. “If they could do it, so can we,” he thought. One of the key features of the new market is a fresh meat counter and a full-time butcher. The certified kitchen prepares fresh and frozen entrees as well as baking. By adding these elements, the family made the commitment to be open year round. This was a critical decision that enabled them to hire key staff on a full-time basis. It was also a big shift in their business model. Both Jordan and Alex’s wives are involved in the market on a daily basis. Neither one came from a farming background but they both have an incredible work ethic. Definitely an asset if you marry a farmer. Kelty’s responsibilities include both field and retail work. Alyson has a great flair for design and can be found merchandising the products in the market. Everyone has been able to build on strengths and work towards a common goal. But how do you keep all the balls in the air and make sure you are moving forward as a team? Communication is key. They have family meetings on a regular basis, approximately twice a month. Rod is still the patriarch but he has accepted the fact that his sons bring new ideas to the business and has allowed them to try out their ideas, whether they are in the field or the market. The meetings are attended by all five family members, plus their bookkeeper, and chaired by a person outside of the business. “It is important for everyone to feel in the loop and included, especially for a family run business where the lines between business and family can easily become blurred,” said Jordan. There is still much learning that needs to happen with an expanded operation of this size but the McKays are well on their way to becoming a direct farm marketing success story.        
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.
June 8, 2017, Vancouver, B.C. – Following a colder, wetter year than the past two seasons, British Columbia’s 700 local blueberry growers are getting ready to start harvesting berries around the first week of July.“Compared to the last couple of years, it might seem like the B.C. blueberry season is starting late this year. But what we’re expecting in 2017 is actually more in line with the timing of what a ‘normal’ harvest would be,” said BC Blueberry Council board chair Nancy Chong. While picking will start later than last year, a good supply of high-quality blueberries is expected with the season stretching through until mid-September.The start of the 2017 blueberry harvest in B.C. is expected to be around four weeks later than the start of the 2016 season, when pickers in some areas were out in the field as early as the first week of June.Much colder temperatures and wetter winter and spring conditions have led to more work in the fields for growers, but made it harder to get out there and take care of tasks such as pruning.“Last October and November were a bit warmer than usual, but a lot wetter than average, and then in December, we experienced a drastic drop in temperature and high winds. All of these weather conditions resulted in follow-on effects through the winter and spring,” said Chong.To drive demand for local blueberries in international markets, the British Columbia Blueberry Council continues to regularly attend key international trade shows such as Gulfood in Dubai, Anuga and Fruit Logistica in Germany, Foodex Japan, and Food & Hotel China.
May 11, 2017, Simcoe, Ont – Aside from some sleepless nights for those in charge, frost in Norfolk hasn't greatly affected this year's berry crop. Paula Zelem of Kent Kreek Berries, located west of Simcoe on Highway 3, said Tuesday that a warm lead-in to spring has worked to combat recent frost and keep crops relatively close to on schedule. Mercury dropping both Sunday and Monday nights had the farm's temperature alarms ringing and their crew up at all hours to irrigate the combined 23 acres of planted berries. READ MORE
May 9, 2017, Guelph, Ont – The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs is again developing fire blight risk maps during the 2017 apple and pear blossom period based on the Cougarblight Model to help support apple and pear growers with their fire blight management decisions. The risk is based on inputting the seven-day weather forecasts from 67 locations from various regions throughout the province into the Cougarblight model. The results from Cougarblight are then mapped and posted on the OMAFRA Website.This year, there will be a separate webpage for apples and pears (in English and French).The maps are animated and will cycle through the seven-day fire blight risk predictions based on the seven-day weather forecast. Updated fire blight risk prediction maps will be generated and posted three times per week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) until bloom period is over. A new feature on the maps will allow growers to zoom in and out of the maps, reposition them to their specific locations and pause or start the maps.As with any model, the fire blight risk is a general guide and environmental conditions may be more conducive for fire blight infection in a particular orchard than what is indicated by the maps. All apple and pear growers are encouraged to run either the Cougarblight or Maryblyt model with data generated from their orchards for a more accurate prediction.Assumptions: The risk assumes that open blossoms are present and dew or rain will wet the blossom, which is necessary for a fire blight infection to occur. If there are no open blossoms or if wetting of the open blossoms does not occurs, infection will most likely not take place. However, it only takes a little dew to wash the fire blight bacteria into the open blossom for infection to occur.How to use the maps: There are only two maps that will be generated this year, one for 'fire blight occurred in the neighbourhood last year' and another for 'Fire blight occurred in the orchard last year and is now active in your neighbourhood'. To use the maps, orchards must be assigned to one of two categories based on the fire blight situation in the orchard last year and this year. Fire blight occurred in the orchard last year and is now active in your neighbourhood (use the 1st map labeled 'Active Fire Blight in Apples 2017') Fire blight occurred in the neighbourhood last year (use the 2nd map labeled 'Fire Blight Occurred Last Year in Apples') If the fire blight situation from last year is not known, it is best to assign the orchard to 'Fire blight occurred in the neighbourhood last year' and follow the 2nd map on the webpage. Once the orchard has been assigned to one of the categories above, locate the region of the orchard on the fire blight risk prediction maps and follow the animated maps for the predicted fire blight risk corresponding to the dates on the map. The animated maps will change through the changing risks over the seven day forecast, so watch them carefully. A brief interpretation of the risk will be posted above the maps for each update.Interpretation of Risk: The following risks (Legend) are colour coded on the maps and designated as follows: Low (green): Indicates a low risk of fire blight occurring. Wetting of blossoms during these temperature conditions has not resulted in new infections in past years. Caution (orange): Wetting of flowers under these temperature conditions is not likely to lead to infection except for blossoms within a few meters of an active canker. Risk of infection will increase if the weather becomes warmer and wetter. Weather forecasts should be carefully monitored. If antibiotic materials are not being used, blossom protection with other materials should be initiated one or two days prior to entering a high infection risk period. Continue appropriate protective sprays until the infection risk drops below the "high" threshold. High (purple): Under these temperature conditions, serious outbreaks of fire blight have occurred. Orchards that recently had blight are especially vulnerable. The risk of severe damage from infection increases during the later days of the primary bloom period, and during petal fall, while blossoms are plentiful. Infection is common, but more scattered when late blossoms are wetted during high-risk periods. The potential severity of infection increases if a series of high-risk days occur. Extreme and Exceptional (magenta): Some of the most damaging fire blight epidemics have occurred under these optimum temperature conditions, followed by blossom wetting. Orchards that have never had fire blight are also at risk under these conditions. Infections during these conditions often lead to severe orchard damage, especially during primary bloom or when numerous secondary blossoms are present.
May 8, 2017, Wenatchee, WA – Get ready for a new kind of apple. It's called Cosmic Crisp, and farmers in Washington State, who grow 70 per cent of the country's apples, are planting these trees by the millions.The apples themselves, dark red in colour with tiny yellow freckles, will start showing up in stores in the fall of 2019. READ MORE
June 23, 2017, Ontario - For nearly four months, farmers in Ontario who grow processing vegetables have been silenced after the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission shut down our organization – Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers (OPVG).As a result, the Processing Vegetable Growers’ Alliance was formed to represent the interests of growers of the 14 different processing vegetables grown in Ontario, in the absence of OPVG.Our goal, as an alliance of growers, is to restore a fully elected OPVG board with the authority to negotiate prices, terms, conditions and contracts for Ontario’s processing vegetable growers.But on June 15, 2017, the commission posted proposed amendments to Regulation 441 (Vegetables for Processing – Plan) that impact governance of OPVG.We have very serious concerns about the proposed amendments that would effectively allow the government to take control of the OPVG board for another year. OPVG currently has no expert advisory staff or board, and is operated by a commission-appointed trustee.Our sector is best served by the grassroots growers who produce the 14 different processing vegetables grown in Ontario. And a fully elected grower board is in the best position to accurately and adequately represent our sector.The proposed amendments to OPVG board governance will put the voice of the processing growers at a minority, with government appointees making up the majority of the OPVG board until the end of 2018.It is unacceptable that the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission intends to appoint more than 50 per cent of the OPVG board positions (board chair plus four board members) with no requirement that these board members are active processing vegetable growers in Ontario.We are encouraging all processing vegetable growers in the province to take the opportunity to comment on the proposed amendments by the July 31, 2017 deadline date.
June 16, 2017, Bradford, Ont. - After watching greenhouse tomatoes and creamer potatoes move from commodity to cool thanks to great flavor and marketing, Quinton Woods thinks carrots are next.“Everyone sees carrots as the cheap option on the shelf and retailers love promoting them,” said Woods, sales manager for Gwillimdale Farms in Bradford, Ontario, which has just completed a company-wide rebranding.“Last summer’s consumer research told us that shoppers aren’t concerned about price,” he said, “but they do want their carrots to be sweet, clean and crisp.”Gwillimdale’s new bag plays up the carrots’ attributes, he said.“Consumers don’t want traditional carrots,” Woods said. “With all the different nationalities in Toronto in particular, there’s more pressure every year for new offerings in the category.”Gwillimdale is one of several Ontario farms growing Nantes carrots, which have gained popularity, especially at farmers markets. READ MORE
June 15, 2017, New Zealand - Potatoes are an integral part of a Kiwi diet, whether mashed up or sliced into chips, but there's always been a very distinct issue with them: they're not particularly healthy.But now some New Zealand farmers have invented a new kind of potato they claim has 40 percent less carbs.Farmer Andrew Keeney told Three's The Project that the Lotato, as it's been called, is grown in Pukekohe and Ohakune, and created by cross-breeding other varieties. READ MORE
June 12, 2017, Malden, N.B. - A family of New Brunswick potato farmers are getting into the booze business by making vodka from spuds.Blue Roof Distillers has joined a small handful of distillers in the country making the product.The Strang family has been farming in the community of Malden, N.B. since 1855. For decades, the blue roofs on their barns have symbolized potatoes. But now they also represent their new line of ultra-premium Blue Roof vodka.Potato vodka has been around since the days of the backyard still, but this is a first for New Brunswick. READ MORE
June 9, 2017, Fredericton, N.B. - Housed in Canada’s centre of excellence for potato research along the Saint John River Valley in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s scientists maintain a living library of nearly 180 potentially high-value potato gene resources. Canada’s potato gene bank, or Canadian Potato Genetic Resources, is part of an international commitment to global food security.If disease or a natural disaster strikes and potato crops are devastated, researchers from anywhere in the world can turn to the gene bank to rebuild the stock. Researchers can also call on the gene bank for resources to help them develop stronger, more disease-resistant and environmentally-resilient varieties."We preserve some potato varieties that are of unique value to northern latitude climates, varieties that are adapted to shorter seasons with longer daylight hours. Only certain star varieties are grown by the potato industry so in the interest of preserving genetic diversity, an important part of our role as gene bank curators is to back up our genetic resources," said Dr. Benoit Bizimungu, Gene Resources Curator, Agriculture and Agri-Food CanadaUnlike other gene banks that preserve seed-propagated crops like grains, the potato gene bank is made up of live tissue cultures or tubers which are perishable and require- constant maintenance. Plantlets are grown in aseptic conditions in test tubes that are stored in temperature-controlled growth chambers for six to eight weeks at a time. The collection is then refreshed,continuously monitored and periodically tested for contaminations. Microtubers, or tiny potatoes about the size of a raisin, are also produced in test-tubes and preserved for up to a year as a backup. A duplicate collection of microtubers is kept at AAFC's Saskatoon Research and Development Centre."It's well worth it," says Dr. Bizimungu of the work involved in conserving high-value potato genetic diversity. "There are many potato varieties that aren't grown today that have traits that are of current or future interest to researchers and educators. Preserving these varieties ensures valuable attributes, and even those with known susceptibility to certain diseases, are kept for the development of future, better varieties."The collection is comprised of heritage varieties, modern Canadian-bred varieties, as well as strains known to show differential reactions to certain diseases and breeding lines with specific traits scientists are interested in studying. In addition to Canadian varieties, the collection also includes varieties from the U.S., Peru and many European countries including Ireland, the Netherlands and Estonia.Canadian Potato Genetic Resource is part of Plant Gene Resources Canada (PRGC). The mandate of PGRC is to acquire, preserve and evaluate the genetic diversity of crops and their wild relatives with focus on germplasm of economic importance or potential for Canada.
May 25, 2017, P.E.I. - There will be no commercially grown GMO potatoes on Prince Edward Island this year, according to Simplot Plant Sciences, the company that developed the Innate potato.Innate potatoes bruise less and have less black spots than conventional potatoes.Doug Cole, director of marketing and communications, said the company is holding off allowing commercial growth of Innate potatoes in Canada until there's a proven market for them. READ MORE

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