Constructed wetland purifies vineyard waste the natural way

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 Constructed wetland purifies vineyard waste the natural way

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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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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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Producing wine and cranberries in cottage country

Winemaking and farming aren’t two things most people associate with Muskoka.

Yet fruit wines and an iconic fall holiday berry are helping farmer Murray Johnston and his wife Wendy Hogarth put their family business on the map.

The couple, with help from their four sons, run Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh and Muskoka Lakes Winery near Bala, where they grow 27 acres of cranberries and produce a range of wines using locally grown fruit.

Most people think they know how cranberries are grown and harvested, says Wendy, but what they’ve seen in television advertising doesn’t paint an accurate picture. Continue reading Producing wine and cranberries in cottage country

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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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Discovering Luxembourg wine country

It was the day of wines – bubbly wines, white wines, pink wines and even red wines. The Moselle wine area of Luxembourg is a gem and one I didn’t even know existed.

We started off the day at Wormeldange cellars of the Domaines De Vinsmoselle, united winegrowers since 1921. They make a fabulous series of cremants – sparkling wines that we would call champagne if they actually hailed from the Champagne region. Continue reading Discovering Luxembourg wine country

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A Niagara wine victory

Kudos go out to a Niagara region winery for grabbing top honours in a competition sponsored by a wine magazine in Quebec.

Le Clos Jordanne’s Claystone Terrace 2005 beat out 13 other vintages mostly from California and France in the contest run by Cellier magazine. The victory came as a surprise, but not for the reason you might think. Continue reading A Niagara wine victory

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