Ontario farm meeting rising demand for locally grown edamame

Jacob holding a bag of frozen edamameDemand for edamame, a type of soybean popular in Asia as a snack and vegetable dish, is growing in North America.

Most edamame sold here, however, is imported – something that a local Ontario farm family is working hard to change.

MacKellar Farms, near the southwestern Ontario town of Alvinston, is Canada’s only commercial supplier of edamame using a locally grown crop. Continue reading Ontario farm meeting rising demand for locally grown edamame

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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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Young farmers reach out to consumers

A group of young farmers has taken to social media to share with Canadians how they produce food and two fruit and vegetable growers are right in the thick of it.

Erin McLean, whose family runs a pick-your-own berry operation near Peterborough and serves farmers’ markets and local grocers with fresh fruits and vegetables, and potato grower Stephanie Kowalski from the Alliston area are part of a recently launched initiative called Dinner Starts Here.

Central to the project is a website called dinnerstartshere.ca, which features blog posts by ten young farmers as well as recipes, answers to frequently-asked farming questions and information about buying local. Social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest will be used to share information and bring visitors to the site. Continue reading Young farmers reach out to consumers

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Keeping birds away from wine grapes

Automating the acoustical devices that keep birds away from grape crops in Ontario’s vineyards could improve the effectiveness and efficiency of these tools.

Better management options for the devices – also known as bird bangers – can reduce crop losses and improve relations with non-farm neighbours put off by the noise, according to a recently completed Ontario study. Continue reading Keeping birds away from wine grapes

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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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Growing plants for energy

Biomass is a promising emerging market in Ontario and farmers can learn more about growing and making money from these purpose-grown crops on a series of upcoming regional car tours. The Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA) also showcased miscanthus (seen in the image at left) and switchgrass test plots at Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show last week.

The plots are part of a larger research project in conjunction with the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) that is evaluating the potential of biomass crops in Ontario, including establishing a business case and determining possible market opportunities. Continue reading Growing plants for energy

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New crops in local soils raising high hopes

Ontario lavender bunches

Lavender, hazelnuts and sweet potatoes are not crops we commonly associate with this province.

Yet they’re starting to emerge in Ontario’s south coast area, the fertile sand plains in Norfolk, Brant, Elgin, Middlesex and Oxford counties where tobacco used to reign supreme.

As the decline of the tobacco industry continued over the last decade, agricultural and economic development leaders in the area began grappling with key questions governing the future of their region, which is a key producer of many Ontario foods, including fruits and vegetables.

How can we bring new life and new value to this farmland? How can we keep farmers profitable and sustain the rural and regional economies? At the same time, is there an opportunity to bring new products to Ontario or to grow crops here that we’re currently importing from other places around the world? Continue reading New crops in local soils raising high hopes

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