Agri-Food Innovations Recognized at Award Ceremony in the Districts of Cochrane, Kenora, Manitoulin and Sudbury
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 Districts of Cochrane, Kenora, Manitoulin and Sudbury:
La Ferme Sylvain - Cochrane District
After an accident left Loyola Sylvain a paraplegic, the active Kapuskasing producer was determined to continue farming. After finding no suitable equipment on the market to meet his mobility needs, he set out to design his own, installing chair lifts and making other modifications to his seven different tractors and combines. The customized equipment has allowed the farm to stay in business and serves as an inspiration for other farmers who face similar accessibility challenges. Today, La Ferme Sylvain is a bustling operation that grows four acres of vegetables, 75 acres of cereals and 125 acres of fresh produce. They also contribute to their community in a variety of ways, including supplying fresh vegetables for school fundraisers, non-profit organizations and two food banks.
Freshwater Cuisine - Kenora District
Would you like a side of pickerel cheeks with that? In northwestern Ontario, the folks behind Freshwater Cuisine began experimenting with fish cheeks and pectoral muscles, creating tasty appetizers incorporating all aspects of freshwater fish. Today, stores and restaurants in the area can't get enough of their sustainably caught product line, which includes Walleye Wings, Pickerel Cheeks, Whitefish Cakes and Northern Pike Cakes. Their first three months of operation generated more than $80,000 in revenue, and plans for nationwide distribution are underway. By reinvigorating the region's fishing industry and creating jobs for First Nations communities, Freshwater Cuisine is reeling in big benefits.
Northern Ontario Permaculture Research Institute - Manitoulin District
The Northern Ontario Permaculture Research Institute (NOPRI) is on a mission to supply fresh, nutritious produce to northern communities year round. To achieve this goal, the not-for-profit organization designed a solar-powered, four-season greenhouse made with recycled materials like "styrocrete" -- a blend of concrete and Styrofoam diverted from landfills. This would enhance local production of fresh food throughout all seasons - a benefit to food security, the environment and the promotion of healthier lifestyles. NOPRI has future plans to build multiple micro-greenhouses on Manitoulin Island, allowing local producers to grow crops and raise fish in a controlled environment. The low-cost structures are scalable, helping create food hubs with increased availability of local food in northern communities.
Jonella Farms (Massey) Inc. - Sudbury District
The internet has become a vital tool for agricultural success. Because of the uneven terrain of the Cambrian Shield, Dairy farmer John Mooney had difficulty creating the point-to-point line of sight necessary for a Power Over Ethernet (POE) system. So the Sudbury-area producer got creative, mounting a POE transmitter on an old television tower and powering it using a combination of solar panels and batteries to create an affordable high-speed Internet network. Now, he can download training videos, participate in webinars and even monitor the farm remotely when he travels.