Recipients Honoured at Awards Ceremony in Cambridge
December 8, 2017 - Ontario is recognizing the work of local innovators whose ideas
and passion are helping grow and strengthen our province's agri-food sector.
Kathryn McGarry, MPP for Cambridge, hosted a ceremony in Cambridge today to recognize
Dufferin, Haldimand, Norfolk, Perth and Wellington Counties' recipients of this
Premier's Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence.
The awards honour 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.
The award recipients from the Dufferin, Haldimand, Norfolk, Perth and Wellington
Holmes Agro, based in Dufferin County
Farmers Association of Ontario, based in Dufferin County
- Spring Knoll Dairy Inc., based in Haldimand County
Lamb, based in Norfolk County
Perth County Ingredients, Perth County
- Bioenterprise Corporation, based in Wellington County
DHI, based in Wellington County
Green Table Foods, based in Wellington County
Jewels Under the Kilt, based in Wellington County
Thatcher Farms Butcher Shop, Bakery & Farm Market - Wellington County
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.
"I am pleased to be a part of today's celebrations and to have the honour of meeting
the innovative recipients of the 2017 Premier's Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence.
These individuals are helping Ontario's agri-food sector thrive with initiatives
that not only benefit their businesses but grow their local economy." - Kathryn
McGarry, MPP for Cambridge
"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
- 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.
Premier's Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence
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 Counties of Dufferin, Haldimand,
Norfolk, Perth and Wellington:
Agro - Dufferin County
Keeping track of crop plans on paper can be time-consuming. That's why Holmes Agro,
an agricultural input retailer, partnered with a programmer to develop a better
solution: MyFarm. Available online or as a mobile app, the information management
tool uses satellite imagery to track where and when fields were seeded, fertilized
and sprayed. The software lets users view multiple years of crop production data,
including crop rotation, crop protection programs, fertility programs, soil sample
results and crop budgets. The system is constantly updated and can be adapted to
any size and type of crop production. Today, MyFarm gives more than 350 customers
detailed information at their fingertips, enabling them to better assess the success
of their growing programs, enhance profitability and plan for the future.
Farmers Association of Ontario - Dufferin County
The Innovative Farmers Association of Ontario (IFAO) has been calling on farmers,
agricultural organizations and concerned citizens to assess their soil through a
new campaign. Their catchy campaign asks people to take a pair of white, 100 per
cent cotton briefs, bury them in the ground and then dig them up two months later.
It's a quick and dirty way to assess soil health. If the briefs have decomposed,
you've got healthy biological activity and organic matter. If not, the IFAO suggest
using cover crops and other conservation methods to give your soil organisms a boost.
Folks from as far away as Australia have been answering the call, learning about
the importance of soil health one pair of underwear at a time.
Spring Knoll Dairy Inc., - Haldimand County
Before getting into the dairy business, Stanley Heeg toured existing farms to see
what cost effective and efficient technologies and design options were available.
The homework paid off. Today, his 50-cow dairy operation can be effectively managed
by just two employees, thanks to a sophisticated robotic milking system. The high-tech
equipment records milking times, milk volume and cow activity, making it easier
to manage the herd. Flexible plastic stalls and feed fronts lead to improved comfort
for cows. The barn is also energy-efficient, thanks to features like LED lights
that operate on scheduled timers, variable-speed fans and automated manure-cleaning
systems. Today, the optimized operation averages 3.2 daily milkings, producing 34
kilograms of high-quality milk per cow each day.
Lamb, - Norfolk County
If you spot sheep wandering between the cherry trees at Woolleys' Lamb farm, don't
worry - they're exactly where they're supposed to be. For owners Carrie Woolley
and Brett Schuyler, letting their grass-fed livestock graze freely amongst their
fruit trees makes perfect sense. The innovative process provides shade, shelter
and space for the sheep to forage. In return, the grazing animals help improve soil
health and save the operation more than $30,000 per year in grass-cutting costs.
The eco-friendly approach demonstrates how farmers can create additional uses for
their land, add a lucrative revenue stream and help meet Ontario's demand for local,
County Ingredients - Perth County
Canada's only egg-drying facility can't keep up with demand. Perth County Ingredients
(PCI) has adapted an innovative vertical egg dryer from Europe to enhance its dehydration
operations. The first of its kind in North America, the newly installed system can
process eggs quicker than conventional dryers, increasing capacity and productivity.
By optimizing the temperature, the processors expect the new technology will increase
the shelf life and solubility of their powdered products, without compromising essential
nutrients. Now, the company is eyeing customized products for specialty markets
such as whey powder from liquid whey.
Bioenterprise Corporation - Wellington County
Ontario entrepreneurs launched an agri-food enterprise, which allows them to take
advantage of AgRegKit a new software tool that makes navigating regulatory requirements
easier for entrepreneurs. Bioenterprise's team of experts are also available to
answer any questions as entrepreneurs make their way through the commercialization
process. From labeling rules to livestock health standards and more, the guide's
extensive database covers every aspect of the agri-business landscape. By simplifying
the path to regulatory approval, the AgRegKit saves producers time and money. As
a result, it ensures that more, great Ontario agri-food innovations make it to market,
DHI - Wellington County
Good information leads to great herd management decisions and CanWest DHI is putting
that information directly into the hands of dairy producers. Launched in 2015, the
Mobile DHI app gives farmers all the key data they need right on their smartphone
- average milk production, milk components, somatic cell counts, breed class averages
and more. The ability to access data sooner, allows for farmers to react swiftly
when concerns arise. As a result, Mobile DHI helps boost herd health, improve milk
production and increase milk value. The first of its kind in Canada, the app is
a powerful tool for modern producers and DHI advisors.
Green Table Foods - Wellington County
At Green Table Foods, good things are fermenting. The Guelph business is churning
out organic kimchi, sauerkraut, beets, veggie pickle and even a unique fermented
salsa. Since 2005, the company has been making nutritious, lacto-fermented vegetable
foods with certified organic, farm-direct ingredients, one small batch at a time.
Green Table sources their vegetables from local farmers and packs their products
in reusable Mason jars. The results are flying out the door, some under their own
name and some under private label. Over the next three years, they expect to ramp
up their carrot and cabbage purchases by 75 per cent - great news for local veggie
farmers and kimchi lovers alike.
Jewels Under the Kilt - Wellington County
Jewels Under the Kilt won a Premier's Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence
in 2015 for their roasted Ontario nuts, produced in a range of intriguing flavours.
Now the Fergus company has a new product to market. This year's award honours the
company's resourceful thinking. Maple syrup is a featured ingredient in Jewels Under
the Kilt's lineup of flavours, and that means lots of crystallized maple syrup left
in the roaster once the nuts are done. Owner Elisabeth Burrow is now marketing the
tasty, crunchy crystals as a unique Ontario treat, perfect for adding to salads,
yogurt or ice cream or using just about anywhere you would use sugar. The sweet
idea has boosted revenue, reduced waste and gained the artisanal roaster even more
Thatcher Farms Butcher Shop, Bakery & Farm Market - Wellington County
At Thatcher Farms, you know exactly where your meat comes from. The husband-and-wife
duo Dana and Adam Thatcher do it all, they breed, raise, butcher, process and retail
their own beef, pork, lamb, chicken and turkey. They even grow their own animal
feed on the 140-acre property. The farm welcomes thousands of visitors each year,
offering tours, butchery demonstrations and cooking classes. It's a holistic approach
that clearly benefits the bottom line. In less than four years, the farm's annual
income has increased from just under $100,000 to over $1 million. Today, they employ
12 people - a number they plan to double this year - proving that connecting with
consumers and adding on-farm value pays off.