Local Farmers Recognized for their Innovations
The following are recipients of the Premier's Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence - regional awards:
Northern Quality Meats Ltd. - Bruce Mines
Northern Quality Meats Ltd. knows how to recycle. It developed a licensed composting facility to compost abattoir wastes for a provincially licensed and inspected abattoir. The innovation has allowed continued operation of this producer-owned and operated business, offering an option for area farmers to process their livestock locally. Composting abattoir by-products is more environmentally sustainable, more energy efficient, eliminates odour and the need for storage, and contributes to the sustainability of the operation.
Marcel Betty - Verner
Farmers, particularly in the north, know that frost can lift cement catch basins, posing a dangerous obstruction for equipment in their fields and rendering the drain inoperable. Marcel Betty put a lid on the problem by developing a safer field catch basin that works in areas where frost heaving is a problem. Its design is low cost, low maintenance and prevents wildlife from entering the drain. As a result, a safer field with proper drainage enables farmers to crop land that would otherwise be left as "wet spots." This innovation has been shared amongst the community and adapted for winter conditions of the area.
DISTRICT OF MANITOULIN:
Burt Farm - Gore Bay
The operator of a mixed livestock farm with an on-site abattoir on Manitoulin Island introduced a small-scale biodiesel facility to his operation, with the potential to meet his energy requirements. It took some ingenuity to effectively process the fat by-products from the abattoir, but Max Burt has integrated his equipment and labour schedules and now recycles an undesirable product that does not compost well. A few more tweaks to the abattoir furnace and the tractor, and Burt should be able to use the biodiesel year-round.
Martin Farms - Gore Bay
Jim and Birgit Martin of Martin Farms own a diversified beef operation that markets from gate-to-plate. The operation includes a Shorthorn and Angus beef herd. It also custom boards cows and sells purebred breeding stock and commercial cattle, which are finished and marketed in the farm's own small beef feedlot. This business has recognized that diversification and value adding help mitigate financial risks and serve the growing interest consumers have for locally-produced food.
DISTRICT OF SUDBURY:
Jonella Farms - Massey
The virtual farmer has arrived. Sudbury-area farmer John Mooney did not let the remote location of his dairy farm impede him from acquiring the latest technology in robotic milking. He brought technical support from the manufacturer to the farm by installing telecommunications equipment that includes video monitoring equipment in the barn and fast internet linkage with the manufacturer's service centre. With the click of a 'mouse' Mooney can access the service and maintenance he needs for his robotic milking system. This innovation eliminates service obstacles for remote dairy farmers interested in these systems. It also opens the door to expand the technology for new uses.
Ferme Blanche Rive - New Liskeard
The Ferme Blanche Rive farm in Temiskaming has what you could call a 'baby monitor' for cows. The device, based on anti-theft technology, enables the farmer to know when an animal is ready to give birth without having to constantly check on the animal. That gives the farmer an extra forty winks, knowing that there are no false alarms with this innovation. The device is non-invasive and can be adapted for use in other animals.
Terza Farms - Thornloe
Matthew and Carol Duke saw the advantages of drawing on the unique qualities of North Eastern Ontario to promote their products outside the region. They established strategic alliances with other local producers, created new products and added value to their traditional products. They market their farm-based products as "northern", "natural", and "humane and healthy" through a website and farm retail store. Locally produced flour and barley-fed pork have been used to produce sausage rolls, specialty sausages, hams and high-value specialty cuts of pork, all marketed under the "Northern Flavors Ontario" campaign.