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New water storage decreases ground water use

Botanix Oxford Instashade - garden centre

This is the third article in a series this week where we’re profiling Ontario farmers and some of their on-farm environmental improvements – in honour of Earth Day, of course.

Botanix Oxford Instashade - garden centreThe hot, dry summer of 2012 was the tipping point for Oxford County farmer Jan Veldhuizen, who was using up to 6,000 gallons (22,700 litres) of water a day to keep his tree nursery and garden centre going.

Veldhuizen was pulling water directly from the ground through the small well on his property, and he knew he needed to better manage his water supply in a way that was good for both his business and the environment. Continue reading New water storage decreases ground water use

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Purifiying vineyard waste the natural way

Constructed wetland in a Nigara vineyard helps treat waste

This is the second in a series of stories showcasing the innovative things Ontario farmers are doing on their farms to improve the environment – in honour of Earth Day.

Constructed wetland in a Nigara vineyard helps treat wasteTough new regulations governing vineyard waste management meant the owners of Sixteen Mile Cellar in the Niagara Region had some tough choices to make.

Previously, small estate wineries were allowed to store the liquids and residues from their grape crush on-farm and then haul them away.

The rule change now requires waste treatment facilities on site, which can get very expensive very fast. Continue reading Purifiying vineyard waste the natural way

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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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Innovations protect fruit crops against weather, predator damage

A Life’s Work - Charles Stevens 2013 - photo by Courtney StevensNewcastle – 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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