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Inside an Ontario vegetable greenhouse

BLhavBBCIAEfxa-.jpg largeOntario greenhouse vegetables – specifically cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers – are one of our largest local produce crops and one that we an enjoy almost all year round.

Most of the vegetable greenhouses are centered in the Leamington and Niagara areas.

Earlier this spring I was able to tour one of these operations Flamborough area : Beverly Greenhouses, where brothers Jan and Dale VanderHout grow 22 acres of English cucumbers. Continue reading Inside an Ontario vegetable greenhouse

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Locally grown exotic plant opens new markets, creates jobs

An exotic houseplant with pink flowers is turning heads across North America and creating jobs in the Niagara region.

The plant, named Medinilla Magnifica, is helping to expand operations and open up new markets for Ted Oorsprong’s Northend Gardens.

Thanks to some support from Ontario Agri-Food Technologies, Oorsprong is selling the plant in chain stores and garden centres across Ontario, the Northeastern United States, British Columbia, Alberta, Washington and Texas.  Continue reading Locally grown exotic plant opens new markets, creates jobs

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Tobacco plants may save lives

I get to learn about some pretty neat things in my life as someone who writes about food and farming. The following story, which was released by the Agri-Technology Commercialization Centre a few weeks ago, ranks high on my list of all-time favourites.

PlantForm Corporation, a University of Guelph spin-off company, is using tobacco plants to manufacture treatments used to combat critical illnesses like cancer using technology developed by university researchers. Continue reading Tobacco plants may save lives

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Your chance to tour real Ontario farms

If you’re interested in touring real Ontario farms and meeting real Ontario farmers – but have no way of knowing how to go about that – here’s a new option for you.

Yes, this week you can head down to the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto and learn all sorts about food and farming in Canada but for the rest of the year, these new virtual farm tours provide a neat alternative.  Continue reading Your chance to tour real Ontario farms

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Dispelling dispair about the future of food and farming

In Western Canada, student enrolment at various agricultural colleges is on the rise. And an increasing percentage of students flocking to programs in animal, food, life and environmental sciences are coming from urban areas, which spokespeople at these institutions attribute at least partly to the growing public interest in agriculture and food.

Guelph’s Ontario Agricultural College hasn’t yet released its enrolment numbers for this year so I don’t know if this is purely a western phenomenon. I’m intrigued by it, however, especially in the face of a commonly used agricultural statistic — the average age of Canadian farmers. Statistics Canada tells us it’s approximately 52 years of age, which elicits hand-wringing and worry from some corners about agriculture’s future.

Yes, it’s a high number, but at the end of the day, it’s just that — a number. On its own, it does little to tell the real story of what’s going on in food and farming. So who is the farmer of the future? Continue reading Dispelling dispair about the future of food and farming

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Thermal blanket helps lower greenhouse energy costs

Farmers are looking at many different solutions for dealing with rising energy costs. For one greenhouse grower, the answer lies with a new technology, a thermal blanket installation, which is expected to lower his energy costs by about one-third.

Gerard Schouwenaar of Orchard Park Growers, a St. Catharines-area flower producer, retrofitted a 30,000 sq ft greenhouse in the fall of 2009 with the technology—also called a thermal curtain—as a
way of combating rising energy costs and he’s very satisfied with the results.
Continue reading Thermal blanket helps lower greenhouse energy costs

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Take action for the environment – by learning from farmers

2009-efp-video-shoot-041aThe federal government has developed a series of suggestions for Canadians to be more environmentally conscious.

The tips – listed on a website called Take Action for the Environment – cover a variety of areas, but some of them, in my opinion, come directly from agriculture and represent things that farmers have been doing for years. For example: Continue reading Take action for the environment – by learning from farmers

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