Regional Innovations Awarded In Listowel
The following are Regional Award winners of the Premier's Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence:
Enviro Mushroom Farm Inc. - Milton
Getting all steamed up means better mushrooms and reduced energy costs at this farm in Halton Region. Steam from two boilers sterilizes the material in which mushrooms are grown. The wasted heat in the steam and hot water from an auto-clave chamber is recycled to provide energy and heat for the farm. To save more costs, the system was constructed from recycled parts. The mushrooms are moister, the monthly energy bill is down by $7,000 and business is booming.
Jim Shea - Dublin
Jim Shea gets a real lift out of his innovative invention. With a metal cage, a hydraulic jack and an extendable post, the Non-Kick Jack Cage makes farm equipment repair and construction jobs safer than they used to be. The engineering marvel reduces the danger of the jack kicking sideways under extreme pressure. Whether it's the corner of a barn or the wagon, this invention is definitely up to the job.
Bert Fisher Farms Limited - Listowel
Bert Fisher Farms has responded to a growing market demand for antibiotic-free chickens. In 2007, they began delivering 15,000 birds a week to a national grocer. That demand has since grown to 60,000 birds a week -- and the farm has filled the bill. Their innovative antibiotic-free management process has seen their birds' seven-day weights increase an average of 40 to 70 per cent, with some flocks attaining more than five times gain from placement weight. The business also built a commercial research facility and has conducted upwards of 50 trials which have helped to build on and fine-tune its success.
Hilton Soy Foods - Staffa
Thousands of Canadians suffer from life-threatening nut allergies and many schools ban peanut butter from the classroom. Consumers are demanding more peanut-free products. Hilton Soy Foods is answering the call. This innovator has created a soy product that tastes like peanut butter. Their product, Soy Butter, has won several taste tests and is being used by various manufacturers to develop new nut-free products. Caterers for children's camps and schools are also asking suppliers to carry this product. This innovation has benefited soybean farmers, created new jobs and market opportunities in the processing sector and offers peace of mind to consumers.
Oakridge Acres Country Meat Store - Ayr
Oakridge Acres Country Meat Store is not your typical little country corner shop. Owners Mark and Cindy Gerber started out by setting up a country produce store for 40 area farms. In four years, sales grew from $26,000 to $500,000. They sell their Black Angus beef in their new 3,000-square-foot store, as well as a full range of food products from neighbouring farms. An in-store kitchen provides value-added products that feature local farm ingredients. Customers can also shop on-line. These innovators have actively marketed through farm open houses and networking at health and wellness-themed events, building a growing roster of health professionals who endorse the store's products to clients.
Best Baa Farm - Conn
Eric Bzikot counts ideas instead of sheep at night. This innovator has created a value-added venture for his farm that also benefits other producers. A processing plant and a small co-op have been established for the sale of sheep milk product. The co-op currently produces 12 types of artisan sheep cheese, two types of yogurt and is looking at potential in the ice cream market. With distribution to 60 stores and restaurants, Best Baa is creating innovative growth opportunities for Ontario's sheep milk product market.
Lawrence Brubacher - Harriston
Calves in Wellington County get the royal treatment by having their milk delivered right to them whenever they want it. Lawrence Brubacher spent several months devising an automated system that includes a heated outdoor tank and pipeline. He knew there had to be a way to save the time it took to manually feed all his calves with buckets. Now, Lawrence is happy, the calves are happy and healthy, and the system may be coming to other farms in Ontario and Canada in the near future.
Ontario Farm Animal Council - Guelph
Do you want "the real dirt on farming"? The Ontario Farm Animal Council offers a booklet under the same name, just one of the many creative materials it has developed over the past 20 years to promote agricultural awareness. The council continuously finds innovative ways to tell the story of Ontario's farmers. Almost 100,000 visitors have accessed its "Virtual Farm Tours" with a click of their computer mouse. People also enjoy the "Faces of Farming" calendar, sold out each year. The non-profit education organization is a leader in developing resources and participating in events that help educate and raise awareness of Ontario's agri-food sector.
ABOUT THE AWARDS PROGRAM
Awards - The five year, $2.5 million Premier's Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence is now in its third year. The Premier's Award can be up to $100,000; the Minister's award can be up to $50,000. There are up to 55 regional awards, valued at $5,000 each.
Who is eligible? - A farmer, primary producer, groups of farmers, combination of agri-food businesses, or an agri-food related organization are all eligible for recognition under this initiative. A farmer must be one of the applicants of any group. This program is not intended for the research community as there are other government recognition programs available to this sector. Applicant/nominees must reside in Ontario and be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada. OPS staff and immediate family are not eligible to apply for this program.
Types of eligible innovations - Examples of innovations for this program include (but are not limited to) improved farm practices, responding to consumer demands, environmental stewardship, health and safety on the farm, energy innovations, education and marketing of agriculture to society, and promoting local food.