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Community & sustainability at heart of local blueberry farm

This is the week we mark Earth Day, on Tuesday to be exact.

Many of us give a bit more thought to the environment this week or do a few extra things to mark this day. And those are all good things.

Farmers, in my opinion, have a special relationship with the environment, a stronger bond if you will.

They work with the soil and the water every day to grow crops and raise livestock – and unlike most of the rest of us, they also live where they work.

That’s just the way farming is, and this makes them all the more aware of what’s going on with the environment and of the need to be good to it.

This week, in honour of Earth Day, I will be introducing you to some of the many Ontario farmers I’ve met over the years and sharing with you some of the unique and interesting things they’re doing on their farms where the environment is concerned.

Sometimes it’s a better farming practice to save time or money (or both!), other times it’s purely for the good of the world around – and most times, it’s a little bit of both. Continue reading Community & sustainability at heart of local blueberry farm

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Our love affair with smartphones is still growing

My first cell phone made phone calls. And that’s it. There was nothing smart about it. In fact, when you left the digital network urban areas, you had to insert an extra adapter so it would continue to work in then-still analog rural Ontario.

The ups and recently mostly downs of homegrown mobile device pioneer Research in Motion has made me think lately about how mobile technology has changed in the eight years since I got my first Blackberry, colourless screen, track wheel and all. Continue reading Our love affair with smartphones is still growing

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New stream crossing in Niagara vineyard improves fish habitat

Bridge crossing replacement - image 1Fish are once again flourishing in their natural habitat in a small tributary to Niagara Region’s Sixteen Mile Creek, since an eroded culvert was replaced with a new clear-span bridge crossing.

Now, fish can make their way downstream and farmers can easily cross the stream with equipment without endangering the habitat. Continue reading New stream crossing in Niagara vineyard improves fish habitat

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Social media changing Canadian beef promotions

BIC_logoMore beef check-off dollars are going into social media than ever before – and it’s proven to be a very effective strategy for boosting consumer awareness and driving loyalty to Canadian beef.

That’s according to Heather Travis, Canada Beef’s Director of Public Relations and Marketing Communications, who’s been a long time champion of social media and has made the organization a leader amongst Canadian farm groups when it comes to using new media tools. Continue reading Social media changing Canadian beef promotions

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Innovations protect fruit crops against weather, predator damage

A Life’s Work - Charles Stevens 2013

Charles Stevens in his orchard. Photo by Courtney Stevens.

Newcastle – Damaging weather and predators can mean the difference between a good year and a bad one on the farm.

No one knows that better than Charles Stevens, who grows apples and blueberries on his farm near Newcastle, east of Toronto.

He’s turned to technology and innovation to protect his apples against hail and frost – and to Mother Nature to help keep his blueberries safe from hungry wildlife. Continue reading Innovations protect fruit crops against weather, predator damage

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What farmers can learn from Chris Hadfield

Commander Chris Hadfield returned to earth last month as Canada’s latest national hero.

He’s the first Canadian to command the International Space Station, helped conduct a record-breaking 130 experiments in space and even presided over a last-minute spacewalk by two fellow astronauts to fix an ammonia leak on the station a few days before he was due to return to Earth.

In addition to all that, he allowed Canadians – and indeed people around the world – to follow him on this remarkable journey.

Like no other astronaut before him, Hadfield has given those of us on earth a glimpse of what it’s like to live in space, something many dream about doing but few are ever lucky enough to experience in real life. Continue reading What farmers can learn from Chris Hadfield

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University competition helped launch Ontario soy food business

YoSo Flamaglo foods

Brothers Erik and Francis Lo at their Cambridge, Ontario production facility. Photo courtesy of Francis Lo.

A growing Ontario soy food manufacturer can trace its roots back to an entry into a student competition at the University of Guelph 15 years ago.

Brothers Erik and Francis Lo entered a soy-based cream cheese alternative into the Project SOY contest in 1998 and although they didn’t win the competition, their company Flamaglo Foods is now recording annual sales of over $1 million.

Flamaglo, under the brand YoSo, sells dairy and gluten-free soy yogurts, gourmet spreads and dips using Ontario-grown soybeans. They’ve also started expanding outside of soy, introducing a line of coconut yogurts last summer.

Most of their products are found in the refrigerated organic or health food sections of major Canadian retail chains, as well as independent health food stores in Ontario and Quebec. Continue reading University competition helped launch Ontario soy food business

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