Farming’s just a croc for these Aussies

Like most livestock farmers, Peter and Angela Freeman are passionate about the four-legged beasts in their charge. They care about animal welfare, and market forces drive them to be innovative marketers and adopt new technologies. So what sets them apart?

Owners of Hartley’s, the Freemans are crocodile farmers in the northern part of the Australian state of Queensland, and their “livestock” are destined to become luxury handbags, belts, wallets and shoes at Europe’s biggest fashion houses. (more…)

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The common link between tires and farming

Tires are one of those things that I think of about twice a year – in the fall when it’s time for the snow tires to go on, and again in the spring when it’s time for them to come off.

And when I need a new set of either one, I moan about the hassle and get annoyed at having to spend the money. In the back of my mind, I know that it’s not a smart idea to skimp on something so directly related to personal safety, yet I still hope to get away with spending as little as possible.

I don’t give any thought to how they’re made, what they’re made of, or what the latest tire science says – I just want them to do the job I’ve bought them for, which is get me safely from one spot to another without problems.

This past week I had the chance to learn a bit – ok, more than I ever thought I would – about tires by participating in a press tour of BKT Industries’ newest tire-making plant. BKT is a global leader in off-highway tire manufacturing, especially in agriculture, but also increasingly in sectors like construction and mining. (more…)

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Christmas starts in July for Ontario flower growers

Colonial Florists' popular Frosty Fern
Colonial Florists’ popular Frosty Fern

While the rest of us are soaking up the sunshine, enjoying the hot weather and barbecuing on the beach, Ron van der Zalm is thinking about Christmas.

He’s a greenhouse flower grower in St. Catharines, Ontario and the height of summer is when he starts growing popular Christmas plants in his greenhouse, like Poinsettias, Cyclamen and Frosty Ferns.

Together with his brother and two cousins, Ron runs Colonial Florists, a second generation family wholesale flower business with 11 acres of greenhouses that was started by his father and three uncles more than 50 years ago. (more…)

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Local food love reflected in popularity of food media tour


Ontario just marked its second annual Local Food Week.

Although there were a multitude of events going on across the province, including a Foodland Ontario-run Twitter party and a one-day farmers’ market at Queen’s Park, the highlight for me was a Farm & Food Care Ontario media tour in the Ottawa area.

It was a highlight because I was able to participate – more on that in a moment – but even more so because it showed me just how far the popularity of local food and media interest in food and farming has come over the last decade.

Let’s flash back to October 2008 for a second.

I was the Interim Executive Director of AGCare (the predecessor group to Farm & Food Care Ontario along with the Ontario Farm Animal Council), and we were partnering with OFAC to run a farm tour for food writers in the Ottawa area. (more…)

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Grocery store shelf-labelling program comes to Ontario

LS-OF-shelf labels with QR codes help identify local food in-store

An innovative shelf labelling program that is already being used in over 250 stores in Western Canada has come to Ontario.

Through smartphone-enabled tags, Localize highlights regional products s and provides shoppers with information about the origin of food products right at the shelf.

Each product considered local under the program has a QR code on its shelf labels which connects shoppers to Localize’s online database where they can learn more about the product.

All products are given a Localize score that ranks how local a product is on a scale of 0 to 10. (more…)

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