Agri-Food Innovations Recognized at Award Ceremony in Eastern Region
The Premier's Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence recognizes and celebrates agri-food producers, processors and organizations who 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 from the Eastern region:
Farmersville Community Abattoir - Leeds & Greenville County
When farmers work together, great things happen. In Leeds Grenville, livestock producers saw the need for a local abattoir, so they teamed up to create one. They rallied the community, secured seed funding, bought a decommissioned building and put it in working order. The Farmersville Community Abattoir has been fully operational since October 2016, and is a model for progressive livestock processing. Having a local abattoir helps contribute to the long-term viability of agriculture in eastern Ontario and helps provide access to more local food. This not-for-profit enterprise is able to reinvest surpluses to fund improvements, with hopes to become a provincial training facility for future butchers.
Funny Duck Farms - Leeds & Grenville County
Here in Ontario, opportunities for grazing livestock are reduced once the snow falls. For most farmers, that means producing plenty of hay to keep animals fed through the winter. Funny Duck Farms decided to take a different approach to feed its chickens, pigs and cows. They invested in several self-contained, well-insulated hydroponic fodder units. Each six-by-four-metre unit produces the same quantity of feed as 50 acres of hayfield and requires just 30 minutes of tending a day, increasing on-farm productivity. Fresh fodder produces healthier animals that grow faster, leading to increased profit margins and allowing customers to enjoy the flavour and quality of grass-fed meat, eggs and milk - year-round.
Ferme Avicole Laviolette Ltee - Prescott & Russell County
When Marcel Jr. Laviolette decided to upgrade his chicken facilities, he had a lengthy wish list based on advice from industry experts: insulation, computerized controls for production and maintenance, and LED lighting to boost egg production. To achieve all this, he created a single, state-of-the-art facility that checked-off all those boxes. His investment paid off with improved feed management boosting egg production and reducing the number of cracked eggs. Better insulation, feed conversion and energy efficient lighting has led to more comfort for his chickens, while remaining cost efficient. Sometimes, putting all your eggs in one basket really does pay off.
Kula Farm - Renfrew County
Kula Farm's Zach Loeks wrote the book on profitable and sustainable market gardening - literally. For more than a decade, the author of The Permaculture Market Garden has helped farmers leverage ecological processes and landscape design to squeeze the most value from small-plot production. Years of research led the soil scientist to develop his "permabed" system, which uses specially designed raised beds to grow crops. The site is also used for community gatherings, on-site festivals, cooking classes, sustainable living workshops, yoga retreats and permaculture training. As a result, Kula Farm has increased their income by 40 per cent, doubled their employees and reduced input costs by 30 per cent. Best of all, they have pioneered a model for sustainable - and profitable - market gardening in Ontario.
Old 4th Hop Yard - Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry County
As a certified organic hop producer, Ron Brennan understands the importance of keeping detailed records. That's why the owner of Old 4th Hop Yard is developing Hop Logger: a mobile app designed to efficiently track field activities. Instead of using pen and paper, Brennan can now use his smartphone to collect data directly from the field. Whether it's storing essential records for an upcoming inspection, logging soil and water test results, uploading photos from the field or analyzing historical data to better plan for the upcoming season, the time-saving app is a simple, all-in-one data depository. Designed for all producers, regardless of size, Hop Logger may soon become as commonplace in the hop yard as coir twine and bale bags.