Ontario Newsroom

Ontario Celebrates a Local Agri-Food Innovator in Thunder Bay District

Archived News Release

Ontario Celebrates a Local Agri-Food Innovator in Thunder Bay District

Ontario is recognizing the work of local innovators whose ideas and passion are helping grow and strengthen the province's agri-food sector.

The Premier's Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence honours the contributions of hard-working and innovative people across the province who are creating new agri-food products, adding value to existing products, supporting job creation and building economic growth in Ontario.

Brule Creek Farms, based in Thunder Bay District, have been awarded for their canola which turns their fields golden each year. This innovation has also proved to be a golden business opportunity for owner Jeff Burke. Since 2008, Burke has been growing grains and milling them into flour right on the farm. Including canola in his rotation helps to ensure soil health and sustainability. Now, the addition of an oil press has allowed Burke to create his own line of cold-pressed, extra virgin canola oil. New sales of the oil now account for 24 per cent of farm's total revenue. Burke sells the high-protein canola meal left after the pressing as livestock feed. The excess oil is then used to power tractors, providing an environmental impact; by reducing the farm's fuel use by 25 per cent.

Supporting innovation in agriculture is part of Ontario's plan to create fairness and opportunity during this period of rapid economic change. The plan includes a higher minimum wage and better working conditions, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students, easier access to affordable child care, and free prescription drugs for everyone under 25 through the biggest expansion of medicare in a generation.

Quick Facts

  • This year, 50 innovators are receiving regional awards. All 50 award recipients are also eligible for the Premier’s Award, Minister’s Award and three Leaders in Innovation awards, which will be announced in December.
  • Since 2007, the program has received more than 1,700 nominations, with $4.25 million distributed to 525 award-winning innovators.
  • Ontario’s agri-food sector supports more than 800,000 jobs and contributes more than $37 billion towards the province’s gross domestic product.

Additional Resources


“I am pleased to celebrate an innovative recipient of the 2017 Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence from my community. Brule Creek Farms is helping Ontario’s agri-food sector thrive with initiatives that not only benefit their businesses but grow their local economy.”

Bill Mauro

MPP for Thunder Bay-Atikokan

“Year after year, these awards showcase outstanding individuals across the province whose innovative ideas are helping grow Ontario’s agri-food sector for today and tomorrow. I’d like to congratulate this year’s recipients and thank them for their commitment to strengthening Ontario’s world-class agri-food sector and positioning our province for continued economic growth.”

Jeff Leal

Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

Media Contacts



Rural and North