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Behind the scenes on a large Ontario farm

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The Burnett Family

Alex Burnett, and son Darryl with wife Anita and their four young children – all of Burnett Farms – hosted Toronto area food media on their grain farm recently.

I suppose some might consider what I visited several weeks ago a “factory farm”.

I’ve yet to actually meet someone who could give me a clear definition of what that term means when I’ve asked, but at first glance, the farm fits many of the notions people often tend to associate with that expression: a large, modern farm that uses science and technology – like pesticides and genetically modified crops – to produce food.

When you begin peeling back the layers, however, you start to learn the real story of Burnett Farms, of the passion of the multi-generational family that runs it – and how that negative misnomer couldn’t be further from the truth.

Here’s what I saw, heard and learned on my visit to Burnett Farms near Orangeville, Ontario as part of the annual Farm & Food Care food media tour last month. Continue reading Behind the scenes on a large Ontario farm

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More cooking, better labelling can address food waste

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I’ve written about food waste before: here and here, for example.

The statistics that are often used to quantify the shocking amount of food that we produce but end up discarding are staggering.

Not only are we wasting the actual food, but we’re also throwing out the water, energy and other resources we’ve used to produce it.

Various United Nations studies estimate that at least one third of all food produced by the global agricultural system doesn’t make it from the farm to the table.

In Canada, the Value Chain Management Centre has found that our food waste sits at approximately $27 billion a year. Continue reading More cooking, better labelling can address food waste

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Meet an Ontario fruit farmer

Tregunno family fruit farm

Tregunno family fruit farmFamily tradition is an important part of Ontario’s farming culture.

Innovation and new technology, however, are what helps keep that family tradition going for the future generations.

Fruit grower Phil Tregunno is proud of being the fourth generation of his family to farm in the Niagara Region – and with his two sons and a daughter-in-law working alongside him and his wife Lorna, the fifth generation is also firmly entrenched in the family business. Continue reading Meet an Ontario fruit farmer

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Welfare-friendly housing for young chickens

Egg farmer Chris Mullet Koop

Egg farmer Chris Mullet KoopChris Mullet Koop didn’t set out to start raising his own pullets (young chickens).

He really just wanted to convert his layer barn into an enriched colony system – but as these things sometimes go, one thing led to another and then another.

Now, he’s the first farmer in North America with an innovative enriched pullet housing system called the Combi Pullet. Continue reading Welfare-friendly housing for young chickens

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Farmer saves Ontario snakes

Dale Vranckx standing in front of the snake habitat he built

This is the final story in our Earth Day series this week about farmers doing good things for the environment. Thanks for reading!

Dale Vranckx standing in front of the snake habitat he builtThe north shore of Lake Erie is a known habitat for the Eastern Fox Snake, Ontario’s second largest snake species.

It’s protected under the province’s Endangered Species Act, so when Dale Vranckx saw them on his Norfolk County farm, he wanted to do what he could to help bring back the population.

His solution was to build hibernacula – protected areas on his property where the snakes could overwinter safely. Continue reading Farmer saves Ontario snakes

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