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Local Farmers Recognized for their Innovations

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Local Farmers Recognized for their Innovations

The following are recipients of the Premier's Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence - regional awards:

DURHAM REGION:

Durham Region Agricultural Education Committee - Courtice
Sometimes, it really does take a village. That's the thinking behind a local committee that was formed to lead and develop agricultural awareness initiatives. The Durham Region Agricultural Education Committee uses a range of activities, displays and resource materials to inform the local urban community about the importance of farming, its products, jobs, and the production of safe food. Volunteers involve farmers interacting with youth, students, families, teachers, and the media at different events. One of the group's projects reached over 1,200 students in three days. This work contributes to consumer education, encourages local consumption and contributes to the success of local producers.

FRONTENAC COUNTY:

Desert Lake Gardens - Sydenham
Desert Lake Gardens is an oasis of abundance. Owners Pat and Rick Dawson have pioneered an innovative, vertically integrated operation that direct markets and delivers its own, farm-grown organic produce directly to customers via a website, through delivery and a retail shop. The farm offers a wide variety of organically grown vegetables, many of which are specialty items that appeal to a certain clientele and are difficult to find in mass markets. The Dawsons were early innovators in the local foods movement and have created an opportunity for consumers to enjoy a field-to-fork experience.

LENNOX AND ADDINGTON COUNTY:

Burt's Greenhouses - Odessa
What's old is new again with this greenhouse grower's innovation. Brian Burt has come up with a modern equivalent of the old-fashioned hot bed for growing plants in a greenhouse. The innovation makes use of lightweight steel support pieces and a nylon line which supports a common plastic cover. The heat source comes from regular polyethylene pipes which have been buried in gravel to circulate hot water underneath the plants. This innovation evolved from the recognition that growing plants outdoors results in more robust plants, compared to the greenhouse environment. The hot bed protects tender seedlings from frost and, at the same time, offers the benefits of sun and wind for plants growing in an outdoor area. This innovation allows plants to be transplanted outside, and opens up greenhouse space for additional plantings.

NORTHUMBERLAND COUNTY:

East-Central Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers - Cobourg
The East-Central Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers formed a strategic alliance to develop innovative technology that will help them compete in the wholesale market. Their fruit-tracker software will help growers meet domestic and international buyers' requirements for food safety and good agricultural practices. The system keeps grower records up-to-date, generates reports, analyzes pest management strategies and improves integrated pest management practices. It will provide Ontario's apple and berry growers with the necessary documentation on production practices to access North American and European markets. This innovation is helping Ontario to compete and stand out as a leader in providing the marketplace with safe, traceable apples and berries.

PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY:

Mill Creek Farm - Picton
Barbara and Neil Vader of Mill Creek Farm are like two peas in a pod. Together, they've spent the last 20 years improving the process of growing, harvesting, packaging and distributing fresh peas to grocery stores across Ontario. Their expertise has enabled them to extend the shelf life for fresh bagged peas from four days to nine days. The Vaders also came up with a marketing strategy that has enabled their business to move into central distribution for four major grocery chains.

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