The bioplastic is made from the by-products created by industrial processing of certain plants. Not only will this bioplastic protect perishable food better than regular plastic packaging, it is also more environmentally-friendly and sustainable.
Dr. Liu has been working to advance the science around bioplastics for over 15 years. He is a "green" chemist - someone who specializing in making plastics and other goods from agricultural plants.
"I, along with industry, saw great opportunity to create something useful out of the leftover by-product from industrial canola oil processing, which is why this project was funded under the Growing Forward 2 Canola Cluster. We can extract all sorts of things like starches, proteins, and oils from plant materials to make plastics, but I am particularly interested in proteins from canola meal in this research project," says Dr. Liu.
Plant protein-based bioplastic has been shown to have similar attributes to other plant-based bio-products; it can stretch, it doesn’t deform in certain temperatures, and in some cases, it biodegrades. That being said, building the polymers (long chains of repeating molecules) that are the basis of biofilms and plastics can be tricky and finding just the right technique and formula is challenging.
One challenge with some protein polymers is that they are can be sensitive to a lot of moisture - not a good trait if you want to use them to protect food with a natural moisture content. Dr. Liu and his team recently discovered a formula and technique to make soy and canola protein polymers water-resistant by "wrapping" them in another polymer.
The team was also able to add an anti-microbial compound to the mix, which not only made the resulting bioplastic able to prevent nasty bacteria like E. coli from growing - but, depending on how much was added, also could change the porosity of the film.
The porosity of bioplastic (essentially how many holes are in it) is very important in food packaging since different foods need different amounts of moisture to stay fresh. Having a way to adjust porosity (either having more or less small holes in it) is a great feature in a potential plastic because it can either let more or less water go into or out of the area where the food is.
Even though it is in the early stages of development, Dr. Liu believes there is great future for bringing this technology into the marketplace.
"The use of plant-based plastics as a renewable resource for packaging and consumer goods is becoming increasingly attractive due to environmental concerns and the availability of raw materials. My hope is that someday this research will lead to all plastics being made from renewable sources. It would be a win for the agriculture sector to have another source of income from waste and a win for our environment," explains Dr. Liu.
Should this potential biofilm prove viable, it would be a win for the agriculture sector and the environment, as it would provide added revenue by creating a renewable plastic alternative.
The international team increased the levels of a photosynthetic protein (PsbS) to conserve water by tricking plants into partially closing their stomata, the microscopic pores in the leaf that allow water to escape. Stomata are the gatekeepers to plants: When open, carbon dioxide enters the plant to fuel photosynthesis, but water is allowed to escape through the process of transpiration. | READ MORE
The collaborative grant is good news for strawberry farmers and consumers everywhere, according to Rick Tomlinson, president of the California Strawberry Commission. To signal its own support, the strawberry commission pledged an additional $1.8 million to the UC Davis program.
“An investment in the UC Davis strawberry breeding program is an investment in the future of strawberries,” Tomlinson said. “Thanks to their groundbreaking research and strong partnerships, Director Steve Knapp and his colleagues are developing improved strawberry varieties publicly available to farmers.”
Improving genetic resistance to disease
Strawberries constitute a $4.4 billion-dollar industry in the United States, and 94 percent of the nation’s strawberry fruit and nursery plants are grown in California and Florida.
Strawberries are especially vulnerable to soil-borne pathogens, which destroy plants and greatly reduce yield. Since the 1960s, strawberry growers have depended on fumigants like methyl bromide to treat soils before planting berries in an effort to control disease. But methyl bromide has been phased out by the Environmental Protection Agency and will no longer be available after 2017.
“Following the elimination of methyl bromide fumigation, strawberry growers are under greater economic pressures, and there is an urgent need for improved, disease-resistant strawberry varieties that will thrive without fumigation,” Knapp said.
Knapp will head a team of scientists from UC Davis, UC Santa Cruz, UC Riverside, the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and the University of Florida.
Together, researchers will identify and manage pathogen threats, mine elite and wild genetic resources to find natural sources of resistance to pathogens, and accelerate the development of public varieties resistant to a broad spectrum of disease and other pests.
“Strawberry growers are faced with the need to deliver high-quality fruit to consumers year-round, while protecting the environment, fostering economic growth in their communities and coping with profound changes in production practices,” Knapp said. “We look forward to collaborating with our industry partners through research, agricultural extension and education to help them reach those goals.”
UC Davis Public Strawberry Breeding Program
During six decades, the UC Davis Public Strawberry Breeding Program has developed more than 30 patented varieties, made strawberries a year-round crop in California and boosted strawberry yield from just 6 tons per acre in the 1950s to 30 tons per acre today.
Knapp took over directorship of the program in 2015. He and his team are working to develop short-day and day-neutral strawberry varieties; studying the genetics of disease-resistance, fruit quality and photoperiod response; and applying genomic techniques to make traditional strawberry breeding more efficient. They have 10 public varieties in the pipeline and plan to release one or two new strawberry varieties later this year.
The grant is funded by USDA’s Specialty Crop Research Initiative. Collaborators from UC Davis include agricultural economist Rachael Goodhue, plant pathologist Thomas Gordon, and plant scientists Julia Harshman and Thomas Poorten.
Other key collaborators are Oleg Daugovish with UC Agricultural and Natural Resources; Alexander Putman at UC Riverside; Julie Guthman at UC Santa Cruz; Gerald Holmes and Kelly Ivors, both at Cal Poly; and Seonghee Lee, Natália Peres and Vance Whitaker, all of the University of Florida.
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.
Today, the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, announced that the CFIA will lead two projects worth $500,000 that use new DNA-based technologies to reduce the quarantine testing time, helping to boost trade and economic competitiveness in the $240 million Canadian fruit tree industry.
"Together with provincial partners and industry, our government is making the investments in innovative science that enables agriculture to be a leading growth sector of Canada's economy. Together we can help meet the world's growing demand for high-quality, sustainable food and help grow our middle class," Minister MacAulay, said.
The first project will dramatically shorten the testing period of seeds, cuttings and bulbs imported into Canada to grow new varieties of plants. With this funding, scientists will use DNA technology to test for all viruses associated with imported plants to get an early indication of any plant diseases present. This approach could reduce the quarantine testing time by up to two and a half years.
The second project streamlines the testing of strawberry plants. Traditionally, multiple tests for viruses are required before exporting strawberry plants to foreign markets. This project will test for multiple viruses in one single test, dramatically reducing the time and cost to get plants to market.
Funding for these projects is provided through a partnership between the CFIA, Genome British Columbia, Summerland Varieties Corporation, Phyto Diagnostics, the British Columbia Cherry Association, and Vineland Research and Innovations Centre.
"Canadian import/export markets will be stronger and more competitive because of these genomics-based tools. Early detection of pathogens and viruses is a vital outcome of genomics and it is being applied across many key economic sectors." Dr. Catalina Lopez-Correa, Chief Scientific Officer and Vice President, Genome British Columbia said.
This prestigious award was established over fifteen years ago, to honour those that have made an extraordinary contribution to developing and promoting new and positive change in agricultural business management practices and expertise in Canada.
FMC encourages the nomination of individuals or groups that:
- Have made significant contributions in the area of business management regionally or nationally;
- Have demonstrated innovation in areas such as turning research into practical management tools, adapting best practices from other sectors to agriculture, and finding new ways to deliver training, information and resources to farm managers;
- Have served as a role model and a mentor to colleagues, partners and clients, inspiring them to achieve their full potential;
- Have demonstrated the ability to network and develop partnerships to include others in furthering the shared goals and vision of the agriculture industry
So it’s really no surprise that the prized plant isn’t so bad for agri-tourism too.
With about 40,000 plants, Terre Bleu Lavender Farm near Milton in Halton Region is now the largest lavender farm in Ontario. Their vast fragrant fields, handmade natural products, and charming open-air events bring heaps of visitors out year after year. And they’re only getting busier. (On some weekends now, they even reach capacity.) READ MORE
July 28, 2017, North Carolina - Laura Lengnick is a big thinker on agriculture and the environment. She has been guided in her work by the understanding that the problems generated by the U.S. industrial food system have been as significant as its ability to produce vast quantities of food. As she sees it, it’s not enough to produce food if there’s not a reckoning of costs and benefits from an unbalanced system.
This comprehensive outlook is a hallmark of Lengnick’s work, as is her positive vision for a more equitable and sustainable future. When it comes to her career, the question is not what work Lengnick has done to explore resilient, sustainable agriculture, but what hasn’t she done. Soil scientist, policymaker as a Senate staffer, USDA researcher, professor, sustainability consultant, advocate—Lengnick has done it all.
With her home nestled in a sunny cove in the North Carolina mountains, she bio-intensively tends to her 3,000-square-foot micro-farm. (She grows everything from greens and radishes to figs and sweet potatoes.) Based on her rich experience and deep expertise, Lengnick now views herself as a science interpreter in her interactions with farmers, public officials and the public at large. (She calls it “science-in-place").
Lengnick is the author of many articles and papers for scholars, practitioners and the general public, including the useful and engaging book Resilient Agriculture: Cultivating Food Systems for a Changing Climate. She was also selected as a contributor to the Third National Climate Assessment, the authoritative U.S. climate report.
Over the years she’s traveled throughout the United States to meet with farmers to investigate the challenges and successes in the field and present her findings to many different audiences. Most recently, Lengnick has been invited to collaborate with the world-renowned Stockholm Resilience Centre, which will bring her views to an even larger audience. In a series of conversations, Lengnick and I spoke about her background, career, and philosophy to better explain where she is today. READ MORE
Innovative Protein Technologies created Frost Armour, a spray-on-foam, after witnessing the effects of a devastating spring frost in 2012 that knocked out about 80 per cent of Ontario’s apple crop. Farmers would remove it after several days with another solution that converts it into a fertilizer.
"Frost damage not only affects farmers’ livelihoods, but also our food supply," said Erin Laidley, a Waterloo alumnus, who co-founded the company with Tom Keeling and Dan Krska, two alumni from the University of Guelph. "There are other spray-on solutions, but ours is non-toxic and has no negative environmental impact.”
During the competition, 10 companies pitched their businesses to a panel of judges representing the investment, startup and business communities. Judges considered innovation, market potential, market viability and overall pitch.
The following three companies were also grand-prize winners of $25,000 and space at Velocity. Three of the five top-prize-winning companies are based at Velocity Science.
- Altius Analytics Labs is a health-tech startup that helps occupational groups better manage musculoskeletal injuries.
- EPOCH is a skills and services marketplace that connects refugees and community members, using time as a means of exchange.
- VivaSpire is making lightweight wearable machines that purify oxygen from the air without the need for high pressure.
During the VFF event, an additional 10 teams of University of Waterloo students competed for three prizes of $5,000 and access to Velocity workspaces.
The winners of the Velocity $5K are:
- HALo works to provide manual wheelchair users with accessible solutions to motorize their wheelchairs.
- QuantWave provides faster, cheaper and simpler pathogen detection for drinking water and food suppliers.
- SheLeads is a story-based game that helps girls realize their unlimited leadership potential.
The judges for the Velocity Fund $25K competition travelled from Palo Alto, San Francisco and Toronto. They were Seth Bannon, founding partner, Fifty Years; Dianne Carmichael, chief advisor of health tech, Council of Canadian Innovators; Eric Migicovsky, visiting partner, Y Combinator; Tomi Poutanen, co-CEO, Layer 6 AI.
The judges for the Velocity Fund $5K competition were Kane Hsieh, investor, Root Ventures; Tobiasz Dankiewicz, co-founder, Reebee; Karen Webb, principal, KWebb Solutions Inc.
For more information on the Velocity Fund Finals, please visit www.velocityfundfinals.com
Since then, Vineland has been turning heads across Canada and internationally with its needs-based innovations. The organization reflects the entire horticulture value chain from farmers to consumers, and they’re not afraid to take big steps to help the industry solve problems.
“We started by understanding what needed to be done and how we needed to work to make a difference, which is real results with real impact from acres in the field to shelf space in the store,” says Vineland’s CEO, Dr. Jim Brandle.
Addressing the labour intensive nature of horticultural production was a need identified early on. Today, machines designed in Vineland’s robotics program and built in Ontario are coming into use in fruit and vegetable greenhouses, which Brandle says will go a long way in helping to keep growers competitive, as well as boost the local manufacturing and automation sector.
Sweet potatoes, okra and Asian eggplant are offering new market opportunities for growers and consumers eager to eat more locally produced food.
And Vineland’s rose breeding program made a big splash earlier this year when its Canadian Shield rose – a trademarked low-maintenance and winter hardy variety bred in Canada – was named Flower of the Year at Canada Blooms.
Another significant milestone was the construction of the largest, most modern horticultural research greenhouse in North America with commercial-scale height and growing rooms dedicated to horticulture, which opened in 2016 and was built around the needs of Canada’s greenhouse vegetable and flower growers.“Today, we’re commercializing innovations, from the Canadian Shield rose to new apple and pear varieties,” Brandle says. “We are having the kind of impact that we sought in those early days.”
Natural ways to control greenhouse pests – called biocontrols – are making a real difference to flower growers and a new technology that can identify genetic variants for traits in all plants has just been spun-off into a for-profit company.
“We’re creating a reputation and that alone is an achievement because we’re the new kid on the block,” he says. “We have a ton of good people with and around the organization and on our board who are making this happen.”Vineland is an important partner to the horticulture industry, according to Jan VanderHout, a greenhouse vegetable grower and Chair of the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association.
“They are very good at asking us what we want and taking a whole value chain approach to research and innovation,” VanderHout says. “You need the right facilities and expertise and Vineland fills that need to the benefit of the industry as a whole.”
Looking to the future, both Brandle and VanderHout predict that cap and trade pressure and high energy costs will result in more work around energy use and carbon footprint reduction.And Vineland’s consumer-focused approaches will continue to drive new innovation, from high flavour greenhouse tomatoes to Ontario-grown apple varieties.
“We will further lever consumer-driven plant breeding and work with the intent around pleasing consumers and trying to understand what they want so we can build that into our selection criteria,” Brandle says.
Summerhill founder and proprietor Stephen Cipes enthuses, "Summerhill Pyramid Organic Winery and Bistro in Kelowna British Columbia has been honoured with perhaps the two most significant awards in the wine industry worldwide, proving once again that organic is the way to be!"
"In May of this year, 2017," he continues, "Summerhill was named the number one wine (the best Chardonnay in the world!) at the Chardonnay du Monde Competition in France, with over 700 entries from 38 countries. Just last week, another wine won Double Gold and 100 points in San Francisco, with 4200 entries from 31 countries around the world!"
"Summerhill specializes in sparkling wines with Cipes Brut receiving Gold each and every year for 25 years making it the single most awarded wine in Canada. All of Summerhill wines are cellared in a precision geometry pyramid and lovingly made in the certified organic cellar by co-founder Eric von Krosigk and his amazingly talented and dedicated team."
"May the goodness of the Earth continue to shine and bring pride to all Canadians and may our success be a beacon of light to all the world, to return to organic growing as it gives humanity a return to our oneness and harmony with Nature. Thank you!"
Summerhill Pyramid Winery, located for more than 25 years in the Lakeshore district in Kelowna in the Okanagan Valley, B.C., is Canada's largest certified organic winery, B.C.'s first Demeter certified biodynamic vineyard, and Canada's foremost producer of sparkling wine.
Winemaker Eric von Krosigk oversees the portfolio of B.C. VQA wines that have earned the winery the title of 'Canadian Wine Producer of the Year' from the International Wine & Spirits Competition in London, England. The winery, owned by the Cipes family, is also home to the Sunset Organic Bistro, a two-hundred seat restaurant with a panoramic view of Okanagan Lake, serving food grown and raised by local organic producers, including Summerhill's own on-site permaculture-style vegetable garden.
Access to this new type of information means farmers can adjust the timing of everything from planting and necessary crop applications to harvest to get the most out of each acre.
Three major Ontario co-operatives, AGRIS Co-operative, Wanstead Co-operative and Haggerty Creek, recognized the need for a weather database providing real-time updates and customized recommendations from agronomists to Ontario growers.
In 2016, with Growing Forward 2 (GF2) funding accessed through the Agricultural Adaptation Council, the group successfully launched the AGGrower Dashboard, a project bringing southwestern Ontario growers together and assisting farmers making informed agronomic decisions.
The AGGrower Dashboard gives producers an edge when it comes to dealing with weather; one of the most unpredictable and volatile aspects of farming. Participating growers have access to a database dashboard with 80 automated weather stations across southwestern Ontario measuring variables including temperature, rainfall and heat units.
“We allow farmers to go onto the database and plot their individual field locations,” explains Dale Cowan, senior agronomist, AGRIS and Wanstead co-operatives. “Once they input their planting information, we give them field specific rainfall and heat unit data and then start to map out the growth stages in the crops throughout the growing season.”
This project is a game-changer for the Ontario agricultural industry because it not only allows farmers to access information from the entire region, but also sends farmers timely agronomic advice and recommendations for their crops based on the crop stage and weather.
“Everyone’s interested in how much it rains,” explains Cowan, “but what you have to know from a farm management standpoint, is if it rains, what do I need to do based on my crop growth stage?”
The collaboration of the three co-operatives allows producers to make smart, informed decisions that end up benefiting not just the producer, but also the industry, land and environment.
Cowan explains the database using nitrogen fertilizer application as an example. A farmer would never apply nitrogen the day before a big rainfall because the moisture would cause leaching.
As a member of the database dashboard, the farmer could have a more accurate reading on weather or receive a warning and know to hold off on nitrogen application. Small management changes like this go a long way in helping the farmer act as an environmental steward of the land.
When producers sign up, they enter geographical and crop information for each of their fields and adjust notification settings to what fits their lifestyle best. Farmers can group fields together to reduce the amount of notifications they receive, or check the site manually.
“Once you put your data in, you can see the entire growth season for your fields,” says Cowan. “Farmers can log onto the website and see weather-wise what’s going on in their fields in near real time.”
This is the first year all 80 weather stations are operating and recording data, but even during partial roll-out the previous year, the 160 early adopters using the dashboard were pleased with the results and Cowan expects to see an increase in farmer memberships this year.
This project was funded in part through Growing Forward 2 (GF2), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists in the delivery of GF2 in Ontario.
The Board of Directors began an open and extensive hiring process in April of 2017, interviewing several candidates before making its decision.
Daynard first joined FFCO's predecessor organization, the Ontario Farm Animal Council, in 2005. She has been employed as Communications Manager of FFCO since 2012 and has been serving in the role of Interim Executive Director since January of 2017.
Prior to joining FFCO, she worked first as a journalist and then as Communications Manager for the Ontario Cattlemen's Association (now Beef Farmers of Ontario).
Raised on her family's grain farm near Guelph, Daynard is a graduate of Wilfrid Laurier University and the Advanced Agricultural Leadership Program. Outside of her work with FFCO, she is involved with several agricultural organizations including the Canadian Farm Writers Federation and the Ontario Agricultural Hall of Fame Association.
"The board of directors is unanimous in its decision to hire Kelly to lead Farm & Food Care Ontario. She has a strong knowledge of the agricultural industry and is well-known and well respected by members, staff and industry stakeholders. Over the years, she has consistently demonstrated her commitment to this organization and its mandate and has led the development of many of our award winning initiatives," said Brian Gilroy, chair of the board of directors.
"I'm honoured by the confidence shown by the board of directors in hiring me to this position," said Daynard. "It has been a privilege to work for this organization for so many years. Farm & Food Care Ontario plays such a critical role in this industry, helping to connect consumers with their food. I look forward to being part of the work that we'll continue to do to earn public trust in food and farming."
Farm & Food Care Ontario is a coalition of farmers, agriculture and food partners proactively working together to ensure public trust and confidence in food and farming. For more information visit www.FarmFoodCareON.org.
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.
Robinson's family has been farming in Augustine Cove, PEI since 1810. Along with her two cousins, Lori and Andrew, she actively manages Eric C. Robinson Inc. and its subsidiaries.
The operation, a sixth generation farm and third generation family agri-business, was recognized in 2014 as one of PEI's Heritage Farms. Eric C. Robinson Inc. currently grows potatoes, grain, soybeans and hay. Other facets of the family business include grading and packing fresh potatoes, a produce dealership, custom application and crop input businesses. Mary is also a Certified Crop Advisor and actively manages Island Lime Inc.
In addition to Robinson's new position at CAHRC, she is the past president of the PEI Federation of Agriculture, has been newly named to the Canadian Federation of Agriculture's Board and sits on the CFA's Governance and Carbon Tax committees. She is a member of the National Program Advisory Council for Agriculture, is the lead for CFA's work on the Food Policy for Canada and has just accepted a position on the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity Board.
"The path is well laid out for CAHRC. We need to continue to bring valuable human resource assistance to the national table, pushing traditional thinkers to be creative and helping facilitate a better understanding of what career opportunities agriculture offers," says Robinson. "CAHRC will continue to have a multi-angled approach to this; capturing the attention of employers, educators, potential workers and the general public. As we hear people talk about "public trust", "food policy" and "sustainability", Ag HR has a strong role to play in these arenas. The messaging we send out will be taken in by the general public as part of the journey to building trust and understanding between agriculture and non-agriculture communities."
While Robinson is the fourth Chair in CAHRC's 10 year history, she is the first woman, which reflects a growing upward long-term trend of women in agriculture.
Statistics Canada indicated that in 2016, women accounted for 29 per cent of farm operators national wide. However, CAHRC research indicates that the proportion of women on boards is not representative of the proportion of women in the industry. Of 65 national and provincial agricultural associations reviewed by CAHRC research, only eight had women as the Board Chair or President, and another eight had women in the 'second in command' role of Vice-President or Vice-Chair. Representation of women on board executive committees was slightly better with 18 of the 65 organizations having at least one woman on their board.
One of the projects that CAHRC manages is Supporting the Advancement of Women in Agriculture (SAWA), for which CAHRC has developed a tool for associations entitled, Is Your Board Representative: A Best Practices Guide to Ensuring Women are Included, to work through processes to improve diversity.
“Our aim is to help improve diversity within the industry and increase the number of women on agricultural association boards and in leadership positions. Diversity and inclusion are central to the future success of the industry,” explains Portia MacDonald-Dewhirst, Executive Director of CAHRC. “To accomplish this, we have developed a guide that provides a step-by-step process that industry associations can follow to assess their current situation and identify new ways to encourage the full participation of women in leadership roles. The industry will be at its best when all perspectives are included.”
As Robinson heads into a new decade for CAHRC she summarizes, "In these next 10 years, CAHRC will fill an even more integral position in helping Canada do an effective job of assisting our agricultural employers satisfy its human resource needs; helping outfit those businesses with the skilled people needed to maximize agricultural sustainability and economic success. Canada is aiming to capitalize on the Barton Report, develop a Food Policy for Canada and step up to the responsibility of being one of only a handful nations able to export food, helping feed the world. Canadians have a moral obligation to get organized and be prepared to make the best use of our resources - land, soil, air, water and people. Canada needs CAHRC to continue to be the champion of Ag HR and best prepare our people for the job."
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
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
"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."
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.
Alberta companies explore newly opened Thailand seed potato marketThree Alberta companies and one association participated in the Seed…
New agricultural water pump programHydro One and Niagara Peninsula Energy Inc. recently announced the…
Succulent strawberries throughout most of the yearCanadians clearly love having fresh local strawberries several times a…
Two EE's Farm Market: Changing times but family values remainA bold orange border marked the roadside stand of Two…
Canadian Produce Marketing Association Convention and Trade ShowTue Apr 24, 2018
Webinar: The impact of climate change on fruit and vegetable cropsTue Apr 24, 2018 @ 2:00PM - 03:00PM
History of B.C. WineThu Apr 26, 2018 @ 7:00PM - 09:00PM
World Potato CongressSun May 27, 2018