Agri-Food Innovations Recognized at Award Ceremony in Hamilton, Niagara and Peel Regions
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 Hamilton, Niagara and Peel Region:
Collective Arts Brewing Limited - Hamilton Region
At Collective Arts, the art of brewing isn't limited to the beer. The brewery founders figured that creativity begets creativity, so they teamed up with emerging and seasoned artists, musicians, photographers and filmmakers. Each of their cans features limited edition art. When customers scan the label, they can hear original music, watch a video or check out an artist's bio as they sip fine Ontario craft beer. And the creativity doesn't stop there. All kinds of talent is showcased in the brewery's 400-person music venue/art gallery/tap room, providing a connection between creative arts and local craft beer. In 2016, Collective Arts launched Local Press Cider, Apple & Cherry Cider, Pear Saison and Crabapple Press Cider. This year, Juniper & Lemon joined the lineup.
Greenbelt Microgreens - Hamilton Region
Looking for fresh, local arugula sprouts in February? Greenbelt Microgreens has you covered. The greenhouse operation has developed an eco-friendly process for growing organic microgreens year-round. Biomass heating, solar power, rainwater irrigation and other green approaches have reduced the operation's environmental footprint. The results are nutrient-dense sunflower sprouts, pea shoots, wheat grass and other microgreens that can be produced on an average 10-day growth cycle and boast a shelf life of 13 days. Today, the company has become the largest grower of organic microgreens in Canada, supplying fresh produce to hundreds of retailers.
Huebel Grapes Estates - Niagara Region
In the past, mechanically harvesting grapes after a frost often meant petioles (leafstalks) got into the wine, affecting its flavour. To avoid the problem, growers had to pick and sort the grapes by hand. The Opti Grape System changes that, effectively removing leaves, stems and other foreign material from the grapes. The system is powered by an energy-efficient engine that reduces fuel consumption by 35 per cent. The innovative equipment from New Holland sorts the grapes and harvests only the highest-quality fruit. As a result, the new technology has enabled Heubel Grapes Estates to boost production by 50 per cent, thanks to the increased demand for premium VQA wines made with high-quality grapes.
Moyers Apple Products - Niagara Region
Thanks to a new sanitizer pioneered by Moyers Apple Products, consumers can now reach for fruits and veggies with even more confidence. The caramel apple producer teamed up with a professor of food microbiology at the University of Guelph to develop a cleaning process for produce that's even more effective than water-based systems. The result? A waterless and chemical-free technology that reduces health risks and increases shelf life. Today, the patent-pending breakthrough has moved from the lab to the market, with farmers, food processors and retailers keen to get their hands on the sanitizer. The innovation takes cleaning to a higher level and positions Ontario as a leader in food safety technology.
Niagara Try Dry - Niagara Region
When the snow starts piling up, cherries and peaches can seem like a distant memory. But Niagara Try Dry is making it easy to enjoy Niagara fruit year-round. In 2009, orchard owner Barry Kemp started drying fruit not suitable for fresh sales and transforming them into healthy, grab-and-go snacks with no added sugars or preservatives. Today, he processes 150 to 250 pounds per day, producing 26 different types of dried fruit and fruit leathers that he sells to bakeries, health food stores, and directly to consumers at farmers' markets. Niagara Try Dry is the province's only small-scale dehydrated fruit processor. Their lineup includes dried fruit such as sour cherries, haskap berries and sea buckthorn, all grown here in Ontario that you'd be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.
Tregunno Fruit Farms Inc. - Niagara Region
At Tregunno Fruit Farms, high-tech gear is helping the fifth-generation farming family produce better peaches, plums, pears and more. Rather than loading picked fruit onto a conveyor belt, workers now use specially designed harvesting totes to transfer fruit directly from the orchard to the pack house, greatly reducing the amount of handling and bruising. Once inside, a cutting-edge optical sorting and packing system deploys sensors and cameras to inspect for flaws - taking 500 images of every single fruit - and uses artificial intelligence to ensure that only the highest-quality products make the grade. These new technologies have doubled Tregunno's production levels, generating higher revenues, resulting in better-tasting fruit for consumers.
SunPillar Inc./Two Bridges Vineyard - Peel Region
Beekeepers will soon be buzzing about a new product designed to fit into commercial beehives designed to monitor bee health. Powered by a solar battery, the Hive Health device uses sensors to collect data on temperature and humidity, hive weight, the number of bees entering and exiting, and other important indicators. That information is stored on a secure digital card, and uploaded to an app. The technology allows producers to easily and accurately monitor the health of their bees without disturbing the hives. New sensors are in the works, including one to detect infectious diseases like foulbrood and a carbon dioxide monitor that indicates how many bees are breathing in the hive.