Local Farmers Recognized for their Innovations
The following are recipients of the Premier's Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence - regional awards:
Blue Water Black Calf Producers Association - Lion's Head
A group of Bruce Peninsula area calf producers took the initiative to create a strategic alliance, the Blue Water Black Calf Producers Association. They came up with a concept that improves animal health and welfare and creates a fresh marketing angle for their product. The Association developed a vaccination protocol for use by a group of smaller producers to enable the production of a uniform herd. As a result, the calves are sought by buyers looking for large uniform lots of healthy animals. This innovation benefits all in the chain - from producer, to sale barn, feedlot and the consumer.
Lang Farms Ltd. - Chepstow
Anthony and Elaine Lang of Lang Farms Ltd. have responded to consumer demand for non-genetically modified crops by implementing a traceability system and growing certified crops for local and international markets. The farm business is one of the very few in Ontario with a fully traceable system for non-modified corn. It currently ships 400,000 bushels of locally grown, modified soybeans into Belgium annually, and 600,000 bushels of locally grown corn into the distillery market. The innovation provides a high return to growers and a competitive price to end users.
River Village Co-operative Market Inc. - Teeswater
There's a strong sense of community in Teeswater. When the town's only grocery store closed its doors, the locals got together and decided to form a co-operative that would continue to serve and revitalize the community, and give farmers a local outlet to sell their goods. As a result, farmers and town residents formed the River Village Co-operative Market Inc. In fact, some residents now live in other cities, but continue to support the store with their membership. They all share one thing in common - they want the community to survive. And they've combined their ideas and resources to contribute to its success.
Country Meadow Meats - Owen Sound
Owen Sound area lamb producers Allan and Kathy Taylor recognized the potential to market local products and fill a need in the community for custom processing. They bought a local abattoir that enables them to process and market their lambs closer to home. The family-owned business, Country Meadow Meats, includes a retail shop that also sells a variety of other products such as cheeses, preserves, candles, and cereal grains made by other producers. Tourists visiting the region now have another venue to purchase locally grown and crafted products.
Freeman Farms - Meaford
David and Lynn Freeman have it over Jack Frost. They know how to capture value by freezing Mother Nature's gifts. The Freemans have built a state-of-the-art, large-scale, good management practice certified processing plant to freeze dry botanicals such as garlic, blueberries, herbs and other plant material. Its equipment is the first of its kind in Ontario. The ability to produce GMP-grade freeze-dried fruits and vegetables can potentially enable other Ontario farmers to partner with feed and pharmaceutical companies to produce nutraceutical supplements and whole foods. Freeman Farms' first project is to manufacture garlic powder with allicin. The Freemans have also received the $50,000 Minister's Award of Excellence for their innovative contribution to the agri-food industry.
New Life Mills - Hanover
Three years ago, New Life Mills had a bright idea. They became early adopters of an automated system that dims and turns off artificial light in response to different levels of natural light coming into the barn. This technology has been good for their poultry, since proper light is essential for their growth and reproductive performance. The farm has also realized an energy savings of 60 per cent. New Life Mills is sharing their data and experience with the rest of the industry.
Scotch Mountain Meats Inc. - Meaford
Scotch Mountain Meats Inc. has climbed over old challenges to create new success. In response to BSE market issues, this co-operative was started by three farm families who began producing all natural value-added products for the organic and natural food markets. A farm store was opened in the home of one of the co-operative members. Today, membership has expanded to keep up with the demand. And the co-operative also sells products at three farmers' markets - one local and two in downtown Toronto.
Stoneyfield Elk Farm - Meaford
Providing a market for all seasons - David Harper and Barbara Kay of Stoneyfield Elk Farm took the initiative to design and implement this idea with a marketing/distribution business in response to consumer demand for locally-produced food products. The store has enabled local farmers to receive additional income with little or no investment. Vendors are responsible for keeping their shelf space stocked and receive 90 per cent of the retail sale price in return. At this store, fresh, locally-produced foods are available year-round. The business model for this innovation could be easily implemented in other towns across Ontario to boost the local economy, the community and the environment.
St. Anne's Catholic High School - Clinton
The Specialist High Skills Major at St. Anne's Catholic High School is a program that delivers knowledge and skills training that are valued by the agricultural industry. The program has motivated students to stay in school, graduate and then decide on their next step. Students' success rate in courses offered was excellent. The program was designed by the Ministry of Education and it was up to individual school boards to make it appropriate and beneficial for local situations.
Energrow/Hofarm Ltd. - Newton
Jasmin Hofer of Energrow/Hofarm Ltd. is squeezing the most out of her opportunities. She designs and manufactures small scale oilseed and vegetable oil presses. The idea is to enable Ontario farmers to process their own oilseeds, producing feed and fuel to minimize costs and generate additional on-farm income. The systems encourage environmental stewardship, due to their energy efficiency, CO2 offset potential, and zero net waste.
McCully's Hill Farm - St. Mary's
McCully's Hill Farm puts out the welcome mat for more than 3,000 students a year, with group tours and weekend events adding to that number. It's all part of David Pullen's continuing efforts to educate and motivate people to make positive changes in agri-food systems, in environmental protection and in rural communities. In addition to experiencing the farm's educational programs, visitors can shop at the on-farm market, where local producers showcase and sell their products. The farm also has plans to establish a Centre for Rural Learning, which will be devoted to inspiring awareness and action on issues related to local food security, agriculture, and the environment.
Ron Van Bakel designed, built and marketed a successful heat exchanger for barns. His innovative design has overcome conventional challenges of heat-exchangers and is being successfully demonstrated on a number of barns in the province. The low maintenance system has definite benefits for use in the swine sector. It helps to lower supplemental heating costs and ensures that minimum ventilation rates in barns are maintained.