Specialty Production
Canadians clearly love having fresh local strawberries several times a year and Canada’s day-neutral strawberry industry is growing to meet the demand.
Published in Fruit
St. Catherines, Ont. – The glass is half full when it comes to grape and wine research in Ontario. And it’s only getting fuller thanks to the efforts of Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI).

The research institute, established in 1996 in partnership with the Grape Growers of Ontario, the Wine Council of Ontario, and the Winery and Grower Alliance of Ontario, has tackled significant vineyard and winemaking issues, elevating local tipple to world-class status in the process.

It’s done so by taking on the multi-coloured Asian lady beetle, which can taint an entire vintage, and kept many bottles of wine tasting their finest in the process. It has 20 years of research dedicated to icewine production and authentication to ensure integrity for Canadian versions of the sweet nectar.

The effects of climate change on grape growing, sparkling wine production, and resveratrol and the Ontario wine industry also get serious research attention at CCOVI to the benefit of Ontario vintners and grape growers.

Most recently, CCOVI received nearly $2 million in funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Ontario Research Fund to build its one-of-a-kind Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Sensory Reality Consumer Laboratory. It will be known as R3CL and will be the world’s first mediated-reality wine laboratory, combining sights, smells and sounds to help researchers study the science of consumer choice in the wine industry.

CCOVI’s research is so vital to the industry that an economic impact study pegged its contribution to the Ontario economy at $91 million annually. It also creates the equivalent of more than 300 jobs a year thanks to its research outputs.

Some of the most significant impacts can be credited to its cold hardiness research and flagship VineAlert program, which warns grape growers about cold weather events so they can use their wind machines and other techniques more effectively to protect their vines from cold damage.

VineAlert spared more than $7 million in crop losses in 2014-15, which converted to nearly $74 million in wine sales.

But CCOVI and its team of scientists, led by director Debbie Inglis, aren’t stopping there. Their work is positioning CCOVI to be the Canadian centre of excellence for cool climate viticulture, oenology, wine business, policy and culture with a mandate to advance the industry nationally, not just locally.

CCOVI’s intrepid VineAlert program is being rolled out across Canada thanks to partnerships in Summerland, B.C., and Kemptville, N.S. Equipment and testing methods to determine cold hardiness are being tried on for size in both provinces right now.

“We’re hoping within the next year that we’re going to be able to make the VineAlert program national,” Inglis said.

The Fizz Club, which provides professional development, and shares knowledge and research among sparkling wine producers also went national in 2017. And CCOVI is developing a domestic, certified “clean plant” program for grapevines to supply the industry with plant material that’s free of disease.

“The larger impact has been in Ontario but we’re starting to branch out and see that impact across Canada,” Inglis said.
Published in Research
February 12, 2018, Guelph Ont – A not-for-profit food business incubator in Toronto is helping entrepreneurs get their fledgling food companies off the ground.

Food Starter offers food prep, processing, packaging and storage facilities to industry entrants at a reduced rate, as well as courses to teach entrepreneurs about key aspects of the food industry, like food safety, regulatory compliance, labelling, accounting, marketing, business management and human resources.

The Toronto Food Business Incubator partnered with the City of Toronto to access funding from Growing Forward 2 to develop and launch Food Starter in November 2015.

“A lot of people here are good at recipes but don’t know about all the other things needed to run a food business,” explains Carlos Correia, Food Starter’s facility manager. “We cover all aspects of business development to give them information they didn’t know existed but would be road block to keep them from moving forward.”

Food Starter’s incubator clients are new food entrepreneurs who access shared space by the hour on an as-needed basis to develop or perfect new recipes, scale up production or get ready to launch their first product.

Esther Jiang has been using Food Starter’s training courses and incubator space to launch Gryllies, a line of high protein pasta sauces using cricket flour from Norwood, Ontario’s Entomo Farms.

Food Starter has been paramount to setting us up for success. In food, there are a lot of boxes to check and this is building that foundation to launch us for the market place,” she says. “Without Food Starter, everything would have taken 20 times longer and I don’t know that I would still be doing this if it wasn’t for their help.”

Food Starter’s seven accelerator units are available for longer-term use where clients can bring their own equipment into a dedicated space but still receive support and advice from Food Starter experts and fellow entrepreneurs.

Jaswant’s Kitchen is a family-run Indian spice blend company that co-owner Simi Kular says was ready for its own space to increase production and grow their business.

Food Starter has taught us what a food production facility entails, from food safety to pest control and Good Manufacturing Practices,” explains Simi. “And learning from the experts and the other businesses here is invaluable – the collaborative relationships make it fun to come to work every day.”

Correia says the ultimate goal is to have entrepreneurs outgrow their accelerator space and move into their own facilities – like Rob Fuller of The Duke Brothers. His cold-brew coffee business has taken off after less than a year with Food Starter and he’s ready to spread his wings.

“I had an idea but not a lot of direction or background. I learned a lot from Food Starter’s courses and being able to use the space here,” he explains. “Food Starter encourages you to grow, they understand your business, and I’ve had a quick growth curve from start to running a business thanks to their support.”

According to Correia, Food Starter meets a critical need for early stage training and support for new food businesses in Toronto, and space in the incubator is in demand.

“Our main focus is to develop business. We create jobs and we’ve already seen some of those results as companies here at Food Starter are hiring staff as they grow,” says Correia.

“We couldn’t develop this without the funding we’ve received. Food Starter is an amazing concept that gives a lot of benefit to new start-ups, and this facility wouldn’t be possible without that support,” he adds.
Published in Marketing
February 8, 2018, Lucky Lake, Sask – Some new life is being breathed into a massive potato facility once owned by the Saskatchewan government.

In the 1990s, the provincial government spent millions of dollars trying to develop the provincial potato industry before abandoning the plan completely.

Now, Vancouver-based United Greeneries plans to open a marijuana facility in a massive 60,000 square foot facility once owned by Spudco in Lucky Lake, roughly 130 kilometres southwest of Saskatoon. READ MORE
Published in Vegetables
January 30, 2018, Edmonton, Alta – Sour cherries and haskap (blue honeysuckles) are excellent fruit crops to grow in Alberta, with lots of potential markets for these tasty berries. These are relatively new crops in Alberta, with many changes and developments in the industry over the past five years.

Alberta Agriculture and Forestry has organized a full day workshop in Olds, Alta., to provide new or potential sour cherry and haskap producers with information on all aspects of growing these crops, from planting to harvest.

Participants will receive information on varietal selection, establishment, maintenance and harvest of both fruit crops, as well as more detailed information that applies to more advanced growers, in an evening session.

Economic realities and the importance of understanding and identifying target markets will also be covered.

Date: February 21, 2018
  • 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. – Registration
  • 9 a.m. to noon – Dwarf sour cherry sessions
  • Noon to 12:40 p.m. – Lunch (lunch and snacks provided)
  • 12:40 p.m. to 4 p.m. – Economics and introductory haskap sessions
  • 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. – Advanced haskap sessions
Location: Pomeroy Inn and Suites at Olds College, 4601 46 Avenue, Olds, Alta.

Cost: $20 per person (plus GST), full day, includes lunch, snacks and reference materials for each farm operation; $10/person (plus GST) (afternoon/evening advanced haskap sessions only)

Participants are asked to register in advance by calling the Ag-Info Centre Registration line at 1-800-387-6030 before to Feb. 14, 2018, to assist with planning. On-line registration is also available.
Published in Fruit
October 30, 2017, Ames, IA – Organic agriculture practices eschew many synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, putting pressure on crops that conventional farming circumvents. That means an organic farmer who doesn’t use herbicides, for instance, would value crop varieties better suited to withstand weeds.

Enter Thomas Lubbserstedt, a professor of agronomy at Iowa State University. Lubberstedt and a team of ISU researchers recently received a four-year, $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to advance organic corn varieties. By the end of the project, the team aims to have identified elite varieties that will improve the performance of corn under organic growing conditions.

“Our main goal is to figure out whether new genetic mechanisms can benefit organic field and sweet corn varieties,” Lubberstedt said. “We want to develop traits that can do well under organic conditions.”

Lubberstedt said the research could lead to organic corn with better resistance to disease, weeds pests and environmental stress.

Farmers who label their products as organic adhere to standards meant to restrict the use of synthetic inputs that include many fertilizers and pesticides in an effort to maintain environmental sustainability. Demand for organic products is growing as consumers become more concerned about how their food is produced and how it affects the environment, said Kathleen Delate, a professor of agronomy and member of the research team. Delate said the U.S. market for organic products reached $47 billion in 2016.

The ISU research team intends to address limitations imposed by organic practices by finding genetic mechanisms that lead to better-performing corn varieties that can still meet organic standards. Lubberstedt will focus on varieties that carry a genetic mechanism for spontaneous haploid genome doubling. This allows a corn plant to carry only the genes of its mother.

Researchers can use these haploids to create totally inbred genetic lines in two generations, whereas traditional plant breeding takes five or six generations to produce inbred lines, Lubberstedt said. These inbred lines are more reliable for evaluation in an experimental setting because they carry no genetic variation that could influence results. That makes it easier to identify lines with superior traits, he said.
Published in Research
October 25, 2017, Kingsville, Ont – Mucci Farms recently announced the completion of the second phase of its 36 acre strawberry expansion.

The company also announced that Phase Three construction is underway with production to begin in Fall 2018. The full project will be equivalent to more than 1.5 million square feet of high-tech glass exclusively growing strawberries, the largest in North America.

"Our strawberry program is being met with a great deal of enthusiasm from current and potential retail partners because of our emphasis on premium flavour and consistent supply," explained Danny Mucci, vice president of Mucci Farms.

Since partnering with Dutch growers Ton Bastiaansen and Joost van Oers in January 2016, Mucci Farms has seen accelerated growth and a greater demand for greenhouse-grown strawberries.

"Overwhelming, is the best way I can describe how our Smuccies are being received,” said Joe Spano, vice president of sales and marketing. “Super sweet, clean, on the shelf within 24 hours of harvest and grown in an environment that is unaffected by inclement weather. Even better, they are grown locally in Ontario so that consumers can enjoy summer fresh strawberries during the holiday season."

Phase Three of the expansion will include state-of-the-art lit culture technology, allowing Mucci Farms to offer strawberries during the winter months. A technology they are well experienced with, Mucci Farms also owns more than 200 acres of greenhouses, 30 of which are currently growing lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers year-round.

"As with all of our new greenhouses, the new 24 acres of strawberries will also include the use of diffused glass which reduces stress on the plants by providing even sunlight," said Bert Mucci, CEO at Mucci Farms. "We will continue to use high-pressure fogging systems to cool down the greenhouse in the hotter months and also install the swing gutter system which allow for the amount of maximum plants per square meter."
Published in Fruit
October 13, 2017, Plessisville, Que – A Quebec-based organic cranberry processor is now ready to expand production and boost exports, thanks to an investment from the federal government.

The investment, announced Oct. 13, has helped Fruit d’Or commission a new plant just as Canadian food processors are taking advantage of new market opportunities under the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with the European Union, which took effect September 21. Since then, Fruit d’Or has sold around 635,000 pounds of dry fruits in Europe.

The federal government helped build the new plant, and buy and commission new equipment and technologies, thanks to more than $9.3 million in funding under the AgriInnovation Program of the Growing Forward 2 Agreement.

Agriculture and Agri‑Food Canada’s support through the AgriInnovation Program and interest-free financing is very important for Fruit d’Or,” said Martin Le Moine, president and CEO of the company. “Fruit d’Or has invested more than $50 million in its new Plessisville plant over the past two years. Because of this support, Fruit d’Or has an ultra-modern facility, equipped with innovations that enable it to provide its clients in more than 50 countries with innovative products that showcase Quebec cranberries and berries.”

Fruit d'Or produces cranberry juice and dried fruits to meet the growing demand of consumers around the world. As a result of this project, the company has increased its processing capacity by eight million pounds of traditional cranberries and 15 million pounds of organic cranberries over three years.
Published in Fruit
August 29, 2017, Vineland, Ont. – Farmers interested in adding a new crop to their production line-up may want to look at okra as an opportunity.

That’s according to researchers at Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland) who have been working with the crop for the past five years and have some very promising results from two years of field trials with three okra varieties.

“We know okra can be grown commercially in southern Ontario and that yields of 20,000 kg per hectare are possible,” said Vineland research scientist Dr. Viliam Zvalo.

Canada imported over six million kilograms of okra in 2015 – an increase of 43 per cent since 2011 – so the market demand for this new crop, popular especially in South and Southeast Asian cuisine, is there.

Zvalo is particularly excited about three additional varieties Vineland has been able to source from East West Seeds from Thailand. The company is a key player in the okra seed market in countries like India, the Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand where much of the world’s okra is grown.

“We planted some of these varieties in June last year and were amazed by the yield potential,” he said. “I believe they may outperform the varieties we’ve been using so far and we are quite optimistic they’ll do very well here.”

Okra grows well in Canada’s hot summers but less is known about its performance in cooler, wet weather. However, Zvalo believes these new Asian varieties, which are developed for the cooler monsoon season, should perform well in Canada. Also, one variety is slower to mature than others, which means it needs to be harvested only every two or three days.

“Normally okra has to be picked daily to keep it from over-ripening and becoming woody, so this would give growers a bit of a buffer at harvest time,” he said.

Retail support for the new crop has been strong with prices for growers averaging $2.50 – $2.60 per pound. The key to getting into the okra business, though, is knowing the market, believes Zvalo.

“Big retailers are very interested in locally-grown okra, but are unlikely to deal with growers who only grow half an acre,” he said. “And if you’re harvesting and shipping daily, you need to be reasonably close to the market to get the crop there on time and be cost-competitive.”

For those interested in experimenting with okra, Vineland will provide a small quantity of seeds per variety as well as technical assistance related to growing the crop. This lets growers see first-hand how the varieties perform in their particular climate and soil.

According to Zvalo, the crop will grow reasonably well in areas of 2700 – 3300 crop heat units and growers in Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and Manitoba are trialing all six of the varieties this year.

Vineland has been conducting okra research on optimal plant spacing, fertilization, use of covers in early spring as well as the impact on yield potential of direct seeding versus transplanting. More information is at http://vinelandresearch.com/program/feeding-diversity-bringing-world-crops-market.

“I think the okra story is definitely more promising today than it was just a few years ago,” Zvalo said.

Vineland’s okra research is funded in part by Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative, through the AgriInnovation Program.
Published in Vegetables
August 28, 2017, Guelph, Ont. – When Josh Whitehead and Caroline Pilon started selling homemade kimchi at the Guelph Farmers’ Market about 12 years ago, they were simply doing something they loved.

Word spread about their Korean-style fermented sauerkraut and their business quickly grew.

“We stumbled into making food for the retail market,” said Whitehead, co-founder of Green Table Foods together with his wife Caroline. “We didn’t set out to try and change trends. I’d been making kimchi since I was about 15 years old, and we just wanted to make something we loved.”

Their first big customer was the Ontario Natural Food Co-op, looking for a private label to manufacture organic sauerkraut. They formulated three recipes that fit the organization’s requirement for 100 per cent organic and 100 per cent Ontario, and started manufacturing in 2009.

Kimchi and the other fermented vegetables may be newer foods for North Americans, but according to Whitehead, it is one of the oldest food categories in existence. No cooking is used to produce their products, retaining more of the vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants of the raw ingredients and Green Table Foods work with a wild fermentation process.

“We use a slower fermentation method that uses the ambient bacteria that are naturally found on vegetables to create our products,” Whitehead said. “The flavours in the finished product reflect where the vegetables came from. It’s like wine that way.”

Fermented products also retain the probiotics and enzymes that occur in the vegetables, often lost in the cooking process.

“When you cook cabbage to make sauerkraut, compared to fermenting it, you cook out all the probiotics, including much of the Vitamin C and enzymes that are vital for digestion,” he said.

From the initial product line of organic kimchi, organic sauerkraut and kale kimchi, Green Table Foods added five new products about a year ago with matching funds through the Bioenterprise Enterprise Seed Fund.

This allowed them to formulate, develop, test, label and launch five new fermented vegetables products in September 2016.

While Green Table Foods started out just making something they love, they’ve built a business that also supports their local suppliers. They’ve consciously set out to source vegetables from local farmers to build a sustainable business that creates economies of scale for their suppliers, and operate a carbon neutral business.

“It’s really important to us to build relationships with our growers, and help incentivize them to be able to provide the products we need all year,” Whitehead said.

Green Table Foods offers eight fermented vegetable products including carrots, cabbage, beets and tomato salsa – manufactured at their Guelph, Ontario federally registered plant – and marketed at 800 retail locations across Canada.

They are now looking at exporting their fermented vegetables to the Asian Pacific region, formulating a product for people living in radioactive zones that require additional dietary iodine, and sending products into space.

“I would love to collaborate to provide living, fermented Canadian food for astronauts that would be a much better nutritional option than dehydrated food,” Whitehead said.
Published in Profiles
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 
Published in Profiles
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
Published in Vegetables
July 7, 2017, Mississauga, Ont. – Canada’s food and beverage processing industry is an important driver of economic growth in Canada. The Government of Canada continues to support the innovation and competitiveness of the food and beverage sector, so that it can create better job opportunities for Canadians and add value to our agricultural sector.

Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Member of Parliament for Mississauga–Malton, Navdeep Bains and the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lawrence MacAulay, announced today an investment of up to $6.3 million to the Greenhouse Juice Company to invest in new-to-Canada, cold pasteurization technologies to help increase the shelf life of its organic juices, while maintaining the nutrition and freshness of its products.

“Our food and beverage processing industry must stay on the cutting edge through investments in innovation, to succeed in today’s marketplace. Investments such as this one will help grow Canadian agri-businesses and expand their markets, while strengthening the middle class,” said Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.

This investment enables Greenhouse Juice to expand into their new Mississauga facility, generating hundreds of job opportunities in the region.

With the facility expansion and the adoption of the cold-pasteurization technology, Greenhouse Juice will purchase significantly more Canadian-grown fruits and vegetables, and produce juice for both Canadian and international markets.

"As a young company on an ambitious mission—to offer widespread, sustainable access to plant-based nutrition of the highest quality—we at Greenhouse could not be more grateful for this opportunity bestowed by Minister MacAulay, the Ministry of Agriculture, and the Government of Canada. The AgriInnovation Program is making it possible for us to integrate innovative technologies from Canada and around the world to create a novel process that will allow us to grow without in any way compromising the quality or sustainability of our products. In so doing we will create hundreds of new jobs; increase the amount of organic, local produce we purchase by 10 fold over the next four years; and follow through on our mission of contributing to a healthier nation,” said Anthony Green, Co-founder and CEO, Greenhouse Juice Co.
Published in Equipment
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
Published in Vegetables
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
Published in Vegetables
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
Published in Vegetables
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.
Published in Research
May 24, 2017 - The International Potato Center (ICP) researchers have been working with NASA to understand how potatoes could be cultivated on Mars through a series of experiments on Earth.

We spoke to CIP sub programme science leader for integrated crop and system research, Jan Kreuze, and NASA Ames geobiologist and researcher, Julio Valdivia–Silva, about their otherworldly project.

Valdivia–Silva says the partnership between CIP and NASA came about through the organisations' mutual interest in growing crops under difficult conditions.

"The initiative came from CIP, with the intention of solving problems around cropping in desert areas as a result of climate change and desertification," Valdivia–Silva explains. "Meanwhile, NASA was interested in the project for the need to grow crops in future human colonies outside Earth."

But why potatoes? Kreuze says this is down to the minimal amount of water potatoes require per kilogram grown compared to other major cereals, as well as their ability to withstand a wide range of environmental conditions, their nutritional value, and their fast growing, high yield nature. READ MORE
Published in Research
April 27, 2017, Summerland, BC – In preparation for the fall 2017 commercial launch of nonbrowning Arctic apples, Okanagan Specialty Fruits (OSF) has added produce industry veteran Jeanette De-Coninck-Hertzler as sales manager and Denise Everett as communications specialist to their team.

De-Coninck-Hertzler brings to OSF more than 30 years of produce sales experience. After obtaining a BSc, with a major in agricultural business management, from California Polytechnic State University, De-Coninck-Hertzler began her career as a sales representative with Frieda’s Inc. in 1985, where she worked for nearly 20 years before joining MCL Distributing, since re-named to 4Earth Farms, as a senior account manager. De-Coninck-Hertzler has since worked in various roles with Shamrock Foods Company, Greengate Fresh LLLP, and Index Fresh, Inc. As sales manager, she will serve as OSF’s sales contact for Arctic apples.

“Jeanette has a proven track record of sales in the produce industry, strong agricultural roots and a passionate personality,” says Jennifer Armen, OSF’s director of business development and marketing. “We look forward to her added experience as we introduce Arctic apples to consumers.”

Denise Everett will join the company on May 8 as the team’s communications specialist. Denise will be leading the company’s media relations, serving as OSF’s primary contact for interviews and executing on the company’s social media strategy. Everett has more than 15 years experience as a communications professional, and began her career in the journalism sector in B.C.

Also in May, OSF will welcome three new members to its research and development team, who will be working to improve additional apple varieties, as well as other tree fruits. Additionally, Jenavive Holmes has joined OSF as an administrative specialist.

OSF is also implementing role changes of current team members to further boost the scope of the team’s activities. Joel Brooks has transitioned from brand manager to brand marketing manager and Jessica Brady has transitioned from marketing and communications specialist to stakeholder outreach and education. In their new positions, Brooks will take a lead role in OSF’s branding, marketing and communications activities, and Brady will focus on outreach and relationship development with key influencer groups and organizations.

“It’s an exciting time for us here at OSF,” says Carter. “With so many strong additions to our team to help bring Arctic apples to eager consumers, we look forward to continued team growth and the introduction of additional wholesome and delicious apple varieties.”
Published in Companies
April 18, 2017, Okanagan Valley, B.C. - A Chardonnay icewine made in B.C.’s Okanagan Valley won the top prize at a prestigious international Chardonnay competition in France.

Summerhill Pyramid Winery’s 2014 Chardonnay Icewine beat 706 wines from 38 countries to take first place at the Chardonnay du Monde competition in Burgundy on March 8 to 10.

Two other wines from Okanagan, the 2016 See ya Later Ranch Chardonnay and McWatters Collection 2014 Chardonnay, won prestigious gold medals at the competition but Summerhill Pyramid Winery’s icewine was the only Canadian wine to finish in the top 10.

The award-winning icewine, which retails at $148 per bottle, has “notes of honey, apricot, and poached pears,” according to the winery. The winery recommends serving it “chilled by itself or with fresh fruit, drizzled over ice cream or in a nice icewine martini.”

Second place in the competition went to a wine from Spain, third place to a South African wine and fourth place to an Austrian wine. Four B.C. wines and two Ontario wines won silver medals. READ MORE
Published in Fruit
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