Agri-Food Innovations Recognized at Award Ceremony in Sudbury
The Premier's Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence recognizes and celebrates the agri-food producers, processors, organizations and rural communities, who through their innovative ideas and projects are helping strengthen our communities, support a sustainable environment, create jobs and boost our economy.
The following are regional award recipients from the Algoma, Sudbury, Thunder Bay and Timiskaming Districts.
Mill Market - Sault Ste. Marie
In many communities, farmers' markets close up shop when the frost hits, sending the local food movement into hibernation. After all, outdoor stalls lose their appeal in sub-zero temperatures. So organizers in Sault Ste. Marie knew if they wanted to make local food available year-round in the downtown core, they would need to try a new approach - starting with moving their market indoors. A former fish hatchery in the city's historic canal district was repurposed, and in 2014, the new Mill Market opened. The four-season market now houses more than 40 vendors - including farmers, ranchers, fishermen, artisan bakers and gourmet food businesses - and has become a hub of community activity. Today, Sault Ste. Marie consumers can stock up on great local food, no matter the weather.
Poschaven Farms - Kenabeek
Whether it's quinoa from Bolivia or rice from China, a lot of the gluten-free basics come from a long ways away. So when attendees of the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto discovered that George Posch had a certified organic stone mill in Ontario producing gluten-free buckwheat flour, they wanted more. With 700 acres of organic buckwheat on his farm, Posch saw great potential in the ever-expanding gluten-free market. He built a new 40x40-foot mill dedicated to buckwheat, catapulting production from one tonne in 2010 to 14 tonnes in 2014. At capacity, the eco-friendly facility will process 500 pounds of flour per hour. Upon completion, it will boast solar panels and in-floor radiant heating, while residues from the milling process will be burned for fuel.
Slate River Dairy - Neebing
Until recently, milk from Thunder Bay dairy farmers clocked up a whole lot of kilometres before it reached Thunder Bay consumers: more than 2,000, to be precise. That's because the closest dairy processing plant was 1,000 kilometres down the highway. That changed in August 2015, when Slate River Dairy opened its doors. The Thunder Bay dairy processes its own milk, dramatically reducing the distance from cow to kitchen. It's helping the environment in other ways too, using traditional, refillable glass bottles. Slate River processes milk the traditional way: pasteurized as gently as possible to preserve the flavour and not homogenized, so the cream rises to the top. Today, Thunder Bay residents can enjoy fresher, more environmentally sustainable milk - with a little cream on top.
Valley Growers Inc. - Blezard Valley
The rich, sandy soils near Sudbury have always produced tasty potatoes - and now you can enjoy all that flavour in a fresh, never-frozen French fry. In 2015, Valley Growers launched "Farmhouse Fresh Fries." The process is simple: cut the potatoes, blanch them briefly in a high-powered fryer to lock in the flavour and nutrients, and then cool and package them. That's it. There are no chemicals or preservatives, yet the potatoes stay fresh for 25 days. French fry lovers can find them in the bagged salad section of Walmart and Loblaw Superstores, while restaurants can source them through Gordon Food Service. Thanks to Valley Growers, local farmers have gained access to big markets, 16 new jobs have been created, and North America's favourite indulgence just got a little fresher.