Agri-Food Innovations Recognized at Awards Ceremony in Newmarket
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 in Toronto and York Region:
Agri-Neo Inc. - Etobicoke
Agri-Neo's patent-pending sanitizer eliminates pathogens without changing the smell, taste, appearance or nutrition of the treated food. It biodegrades harmlessly into water and carbon dioxide to help treat harmful microbes in dry foods such as seeds, nuts, spices and sprouted grains. To ensure maximum effectiveness, Agri-Neo also developed specialized equipment that evenly mists each seed with the sanitizer. Currently, five different edible seed companies have adopted the technology with Agri-Neo planning to expand their market to nut and spice processors. It's a system that is reducing the risk of outbreaks and recalls while raising the bar on food safety.
CleanFARMS Inc. - Etobicoke
Since 1989, CleanFARMS has been helping farmers dispose of empty pesticide containers, providing 170 collection sites at agricultural retailers across the province. Now the not-for-profit organization has turned its attention to another form of farm waste, empty seed and pesticide bags that often end up at the local landfill. Instead of sending the bags to a landfill, CleanFARMS sends them to a waste-to-energy facility where they are disposed of in an eco-friendly manner. What started off as a pilot program in 2014 and 2015 has proved hugely successful and today the voluntary, industry-funded program has been rolled out across the province. CleanFARMS has been welcomed by farmers across the province and they are already fielding requests to expand the program across the country.
Culinary Tourism Alliance - Toronto
Ontario's booming culinary tourism sector proves that consumers are seeking memorable eating and drinking experiences. However, developing culinary routes to showcase local producers has proved to be time-consuming. In one region, for example, it took the Culinary Tourism Alliance (CTA) a year to compile information on 300 potential sites. To support Ontario's booming culinary tourism sector, this not-for-profit organization made the leap into the software development business to create the Experience Assessment Tool (EAT) to more easily showcase local producers across the province. This questionnaire rates potential sites on a host of different criteria to judge their readiness to welcome tourists. Instead of collecting data, CTA staff can now focus on creating new culinary trails and helping sites become attractive destinations. The software has also boosted local culinary tourism, in turn supporting Ontario's economy by making it easy for visitors to plan their own customized itinerary.
Dairy Quality Inc. - Newmarket
Healthy cows are a priority for dairy farmers, which is why Dairy Quality Inc., a York Region company, developed breakthrough technology to help combat mastitis in cows (an udder infection that reduces milk production). This new, low-cost, hand-held device is a powerful tool that allows farmers to detect early stages of mastitis by accurately measuring the somatic cell count in milk. The device easily hooks up to an iPhone or iPad, using patent-pending technology to count somatic cells in a matter of seconds. Using the tool, dairy farmers can identify problems and take action before a cow develops advanced mastitis. This helps cut treatment costs, reduce antibiotic use and protect farmers from loss of productivity. That's good news for cows, consumers and for farmers.
Greenbelt Greenhouse Ltd. - Gormley
Microgreens are booming with popularity, however hand-harvesting these tiny plants can be time-consuming. That is why Greenbelt Greenhouse has explored ways to mechanize the process. Growers were able to modify a bandsaw originally designed for field-grown salads to be used on thicker-stemmed microgreen crops. For thinner-stalked microgreens, growers worked with a Toronto company to engineer a tabletop harvester with an oscillating blade. Now, 90 per cent of their greens can be mechanically harvested resulting in labour costs savings of 80 per cent per kilogram harvested. The chilling process has now been reduced to five minutes, resulting in increased shelf life for the greens. Thanks to greater efficiency, Greenbelt Greenhouse has doubled their production, giving more Ontarians a fresh alternative to imported salad greens.
Prisum Coatings Canada Inc. - Holland Landing
Prisum Coatings Canada created an innovative eco-friendly, allergy-free paint with a zero-carbon footprint that performs just as well as its alkyd counterparts. Developed in conjunction with Soy 20/20, Ontario Agri-Food Technologies, FedDev Ontario and the Industrial Research Assistance Program, this paint technology uses a new soybean variety engineered by the University of Guelph for industrial applications. The coating industry represents a three-trillion-dollar global market. With retailers like Lowe's stocking their product and agreements signed with paint manufacturers around the world, Prisum Coatings has the potential to generate a new, expanded market for Ontario soy products.
Sepha Catering Ltd. - Toronto
The creative chefs at Sepha Catering, a kosher food company, have come up with a twist on traditional mac and cheese. Sepha's chefs have created a vegan lobster mac and cheese that not only appeals to a variety of cultural tastes and diets but is safe for those with seafood, soy and gluten allergies. Ten full-time employees work at Sepha's 6,000-square-foot, FDA-approved plant, manufacturing the ready-to-eat frozen dish as well as a vegan seafood jambalaya for both the Canadian and U.S. markets.