Agri-Food Innovations Recognized at Award Ceremony in Morrisburg
The Premier's Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence recognizes and celebrates agri-food producers, processors and organizations that are helping create jobs, boost our economy, strengthen our communities and support a sustainable environment through their innovative ideas and projects.
The following are regional award recipients for Eastern Ontario:
FarmLead.com - Ottawa
Grain trading can now be done online thanks to FarmLead.com. This online tool allows buyers and sellers to deal directly with each other. As a result, sellers earn more profit and buyers enjoy lower prices. An independent certifying body tests the grain, so customers know exactly what they're buying. Meanwhile, the 2,400 growers who are using the platform feel confident they're dealing with legitimate buyers - FarmLead.com accredits each business and ensures they are assessed by a credit rating agency. Launched in 2014, the site now employs eight full-time staff and has facilitated $25 million in grain deals.
Funny Duck Farms - Jasper
Community shared agriculture (CSA) offers consumers fresh produce direct from the farm and gives farmers a guaranteed market. However, many CSAs experience high turnover because members want a more diverse selection, better control over volume or they simply forget to sign up for a new season. Funny Duck Farms has solved this problem by developing an online system that allows members to order exactly what they want 50 weeks of the year. By broadening their selection and teaming up with five other local producers including a baker, an artisanal cheese maker and a food co-op, Funny Duck Farms is able to support twice as many members and produce less waste.
New Care Farms Inc. - Iroquois
The operators of New Care Farms, an organic dairy, believe that grass-fed cows produce sweeter milk, in turn producing tastier frozen yogurt. New Care Farms cows get 98 per cent of their diet from grazing, being pastured three times each day, which increases the milk's natural sugar levels and overall quality. Pasturing the cows to graze multiple times per day also increases their production, generating more revenue to finance a state-of-the-art rotary milking parlour system and a five-star energy-efficient creamery. After only seven months of production, New Care Farms yogurt can be found in more than 50 outlets.
Oat & Mill Ltd. - Smiths Falls
Each week, Oat & Mill Ltd produces up to 300 litres of tasty frozen oat-based ice cream alternative in a variety of flavours like Peanut Butter Jelly Chocolate Chunk, Butter Pecan Cheesecake and Creamy Pumpkin Spice. Not surprisingly, they sell out every batch at farmers' markets, local events and online. While many other alternatives to dairy-based ice cream rely on tropical ingredients like coconut, Oat & Mill uses Canadian-milled oats. In doing so, they're creating a market for local growers and a healthier alternative for lactose-intolerant consumers.
Scheuermann Vineyard & Winery - Westport
Allison and Francois Scheuermann successfully harvested their first wine in 2014 from their vineyard in Westport, Ontario, 65 kilometres north of Kingston. Today they boast a selection that includes Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Vidal -- not to mention bragging rights as Ontario's most northerly vinifera vineyard. The addition of an open-grill restaurant has made the winery an agri-tourism destination within Leeds & Grenville County, where visitors can sip wine and sample local foods from a patio overlooking Sand Lake.
V6 Agronomy Inc. - North Augusta
Effective fertilizer requires precise ratios. Liquid starter fertilizers should be heavy on nitrogen, for example, while certain soils may need a boost of potassium or other micronutrients. But the ratios in commercial mixes can become skewed as the components settle and separate during transportation and storage. Crop consultant Ryan Brophy set out to address that issue, working with factories to produce compound fertilizers that bind the primary, secondary and micronutrients together in the right proportions. A more consistent mix ensures nutrients are distributed evenly for optimum growth and vigour. The real proof comes at harvest time, when farms using V6 Agronomy products report increases of up to 20 per cent in yield over two seasons.
Valley Bio Ltd. - Cobden
When growing crops that are often eaten raw, microbial counts must be kept low to avoid contamination. After industrial hemp grain grower Reuben Stone had a harvest ruined by microbial contamination, he set about to develop his own grain disinfection system. Stone's ground-breaking innovation comes with many benefits. The active ingredient is an approved food additive under the Canadian Organic Standards, allowing disinfected grain to maintain raw food status. Most farmers already own the equipment required and the cost-effective disinfection process adds only a few hours to total grain processing time. Unlike their competitors, the Valley Bio system does not leave behind any residue or smell. Hemp grain, buckwheat and distillers' rye have all been successfully treated, with testing now underway on corn and wheat.