Regional Innovations Awarded In Wingham
The following are Regional Award winners of the Premier's Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence:
Smiths' Apples and Farm Market - Port Elgin
There's a real shine on apples in a new part of the province as a result of the hard work and ingenuity of Steve Smith. Beginning in 1995, he built a high-density, high production crop of apples in Bruce County that has sold out quickly and regularly for the last 10 years. The bonus is that the sales and profits happen right on the farm. As a result of his production practices, Smith's farm is in demand as a tour destination and he gives lectures about "Starting an Agri-Business from Scratch."
Taste of Huron - Huron County
Most people know Huron County for its beautiful lakeshore and rich agriculture.
Now more tourists and locals can also savour the great local food it has to offer, thanks to the week long, annual "Taste of Huron" celebrations. The first festival held in 2009, featured 17 events and included dinners, culinary workshops and a variety of programs that promoted the "buy local, buy fresh" philosophy. The community event drew more than 800 participants and was a success due to the collaborative efforts of the local council and area farmers and businesses. Plans are underway to expand it to a regional event that will also feature flavours and feasts in Grey, Bruce and Perth Counties.
Global Fruit - Clarksburg
A Grey County apple grower has designed and built a sprayer that saves money, protects the environment and is less noisy than anything else available in Canada. Created to operate in Marius Botden's high-density orchards, the sprayer reduces the amount of pesticide by 30 per cent by reclaiming any product that does not deposit on the trees. It reduces spray drift by 95 per cent and reduces run-off. Spraying can also be done at a lower rate (1.2 litres per acre versus 3.5 litres), generating tremendous savings in chemical costs.
Lewis Land & Stock - Holstein
Locally produced corn fed Ontario lamb and goat are more readily available in grocery chain stores thanks to the work of Lewis Land & Stock. The animals are raised under an Ontario Advantage Good Agricultural Practices Advantage Traceability system to maximize their quality and food safety. The meat processing plant has also implemented the Ontario Advantage Food Safety and Traceability program, which demonstrates to large retail grocers that Ontario lamb and goat meat can meet their standards and exceed them. The animals are traced throughout the process and the end product is shipped to small butcher shops, small retail chains and ethnic markets.
Spirit Tree Estate Cidery - Caledon
Spirit Tree Estate Cidery was inspired by its environmentally conscious owners who had years of experience running a pick-your-own farm operation and were looking to grow their business in an earth-friendly way. They built an upscale artisan cider mill, farm market and wood-fired oven bakery using environmentally sound design and technology. Their 650-square metre facility is the largest commercial building and the first winery production facility to use straw bale construction methods in Ontario. Other energy savings are found from the geothermal heat pump that heats and cools the facility, ultraviolet technology that treats the pressed cider, and an Ecoflo biofilter that handles waste water. This business truly has an eco-friendly spirit.
Advanced Agricultural Testing Inc. - Baden
This innovator has built a high heat, high volume manure composter that reduces odour and manure volume, while increasing fertilizer value for the farm. Oxygen is added hourly to the composter's unique continuous flow operation, which enables the producer to add manure from 400 cows on a daily basis, as it is produced. The high heat destroys all weed seeds and speeds up composting time from one year to just 12 days. The pit-style composter is adaptable to almost any size operation and can accept waste such as manure, surplus newspapers, vegetable and fish. It's a hot idea that this innovator is hoping to market to other farms.
100 Mile Market Incorporated - Kitchener
This company has successfully become a crucial link in the Waterloo region food production chain, improving farmers' margins and providing restaurants, hotels, caterers and food service outlets with the timely delivery of a consistent, high-quality supply of local products. There is currently a roster of 110 producers, and a product list of fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy and grains that tops 1,000. By dealing with sales, marketing, distribution and logistics, 100 Mile Market has also freed up the farmers' time to concentrate on what they do best - produce food.
Wintermar Farms (1989) Ltd. - West Montrose
Multi-generational, family owned and operated, Wintermar Farms houses certified seed stock operations and a whole grain cereal crops operation that cleans and conditions the whole grains for human consumption markets. Its products are marketed locally and internationally. A new facility built in 2006 improved efficiencies, and the plant is working toward Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points certification. Improved farm practices have created employment for family and community members and encouraged the next generation to farm. It has benefitted the broader community with the farm donating $5,000 to the local recreational facility and a portion of their crop to the Canadian Food Grains Bank.
Kraayenbrink Farms Limited - Moorefield
Studies indicate that by applying the correct amount of manure in the correct places, crop yields improve and there are positive environment impacts. With this in mind Betty and Jake Kraayenbrink created an inexpensive pressure gauge adaptation for use on liquid manure spreaders. The innovation has helped them fine-tune nutrient management for their crops and has resulted in increased corn yields. The producers share their knowledge, hosting research trials on the farm and displaying the spreader at farm shows. Their innovation is helping to educate other producers on the value of calibrating and uniformity of manure application, for both economic and environmental benefits.
Homegrown Ontario - Guelph
Ontario's sheep, pork and veal producer organizations decided in 2005 to work together to brand and market their products as Homegrown Ontario. In 2009, they welcomed the Ontario Independent Meat Processors to their group and intensified their focus on food service operators and distributors. To date, 314 retail operations carry the brand, 176 suppliers, processors and distributors have signed up for the program and 38 food service operations feature the logo on their menus.
Strom's Farm - Guelph
Each year, Strom's Farm partners with recognized charities to help raise funds. Not only does this help important non-profit organizations, it has also increased the visibility of agri-tourism at the farm. A corn maze is themed each year to the chosen charity and with a series of clues, visitors are educated about the charity while making their way through the maze. Since 2005, Strom's has raised more than $18,000 for charities, has distributed more than 500 shoe boxes (filled with different items such as toys, educational supplies and toiletries ) through Operation Christmas Child, and has helped to decrease Guelph's Big Brother/Big Sister waiting list.
About the Awards Program
Awards - The five-year, $2.5-million Premier's Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence program is now in its fourth year. There can be up to 55 regional award winners chosen annually, with a cash prize of $5,000 each. From these winners, a Minister's Award of up to $50,000 and a Premier's Award of up to $100,000 are selected.
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. Applicants/nominees must reside in Ontario and be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada. Ontario Public Service 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, local food, and traceability initiatives.