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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:

CITY OF HAMILTON:

J.B. Puddicombe & Sons - Winona
All aboard! Visitors to the Puddicombe farm get a special treat now that the owners have added an 'agricultural' train to enhance their tours. The fruit farm uses the train to entertain and educate students and the public about agriculture and the importance of buying local produce. Adding this new feature has increased interest in the farm, attracting school and wine tours. Young and old, who come to check out the ride, leave with a smile on their face and a greater appreciation for Ontario agriculture.

NIAGARA REGION:

Featherstone Vineyard and Winery - Vineland
You could say he "herd" it through the grapevine. David Johnson of Featherstone Vineyard and Winery takes a novel, environmentally gentle approach to an old routine. He "employs" a small flock of lambs to eat the leaves around the fruiting zone of his grape vines. Growers with standards of excellence remove leaves to produce premium grapes for winemaking. The exposed grape clusters dry faster in the morning, reducing their susceptibility to mildew and the need for spraying with chemicals. Traditionally, growers would remove leaves by hand or by using expensive, specialized machinery imported from Europe. Using the lambs provides an alternative, green approach to vineyard management.

Grape Growers of Ontario - Vineland Station
Technology is helping grow better vineyards in Ontario's Niagara region. The VITIS Vine Management System is a grower-driven, farm management resource that intertwines several tools, including geographical information and global positioning systems. VITIS helps producers match the correct viticulture practices in a given location to maximize quality and determine where varieties perform the best. What started as a web-based farming tool has evolved into a robust crop traceability system. Ontario's grape industry moved into a leadership role in Canada as the first commodity organization to offer growers a web-based vine management system tool that can also address information needs of other value chain participants.

Tree and Twig Heirloom Vegetable Farm - Wellandport
Linda Crago believes in good old-fashioned gardening with a modern twist. Her Tree and Twig Heirloom Vegetable Farm markets heirloom vegetables produced organically for local markets, restaurants and community agricultural shareholders. This grower's passion for unique plants, horticulture and a 'chemical free' lifestyle resonates with today's consumer trends. Sometimes innovation is about breathing new life into old traditions.

WELLINGTON COUNTY:

Gilbrea Farm & AgriServices - Hillsburgh
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease in horses can be caused by dust, pollen and fungal spores in hay, but thanks to Bob Wilson's innovative thinking, horses can now breathe easier. He designed and constructed an automated hay bale soaking machine that helps to reduce these air-borne irritants. Bob's time-controlled "Hay-draytor" pneumatically soaks and drains two square hay bales at a time. That means less water consumption, less manual work and better hay for the horse.

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