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Agri-Food Innovations Awarded in Alfred

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Agri-Food Innovations Awarded in Alfred

The Premier's Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence recognizes the success of rural communities, farms and food processing sectors and agri-food organizations in Ontario. Their innovations improve existing products, create jobs and grow the economy. 

The program recognizes 50 regional awards, including a Premier's Award, Minister's Award, and three Leaders in Innovation.

The following are regional award recipients of the Premier's Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence from Ottawa Region and Prescott & Russell County

Castor River Farm-- Metcalfe, Ottawa Region

On Castor River Farm, acre after acre of grain ripens in the sun; barley, rye, triticale and more than half a dozen varieties of wheat, which makes it all the more surprising that this producer's biggest niche is gluten-free products.  Owners George Wright and Kim MacMullin have pioneered organic protocols for growing gluten-free grains, relying on carefully planned crop rotations and rigorous cleaning of machinery to keep their buckwheat and oats completely uncontaminated. Weekly testing confirms their measures are effective.  Rolled oats are popular with their gluten-sensitive customers, and they have recently introduced a new line of prepackaged pancake and cookie mixes.  With more and more consumers going gluten-free, these products now account for half of Castor River's sales.

Roots and Shoots Farm-- Manotick, Ottawa Region

There may be a foot of snow outside, but you can still enjoy fresh, Ontario-grown greens,at least if you live in the Ottawa Region. At Roots and Shoots Farm, Robin Turner and Jess Weatherhead grow spinach, kale and lettuce in 11,000 square feet (1,021 meters square) of greenhouse throughout the winter, all without heat.  The trick is to seed the crops in September to ensure the plants are mature enough to withstand freezing temperatures once the mercury drops.  Then Turner and Weatherhead cover the greens and harvest them on days when the greenhouse temperature reaches 3° Celcius. Customers snap up the frost-sweetened greens at farmers' markets and via direct sales.  As a result, Roots and Shoots has extended its growing season and created a year-round business for employees.

Cassel Brewery Company Ltd.-- Casselman, Prescott & Russell County

Ah, March. The season of maple sugar, maple syrup and maple beer. Yes, beer. Since 2008, Cassel Brewery has been producing a limited run of Railroad Special Maple Rye beer each spring.Maple sap replaces water in this special brew, while rye malt adds a hint of whisky flavour.The final touch is a dose of maple syrup added during fermentation that boosts the alcohol level to eight per cent. Despite the sweet additions, the final product ends up tasting smooth rather than sugary. This spring, fans quickly snapped up all 1,600 litres of Railroad Special--and, no doubt, raised a glass to the brewmasters at this innovative microbrewery.

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