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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

Focus on reducing food waste, not just boosting production

Note: This commentary was originally published in Ontario Farmer, June 25, 2013 edition.

June 5th was World Environment Day. I don’t normally pay much attention to these kinds of things – we seem to have a day for everything – but this one got me.

The theme of World Environment Day this year was food waste. Continue reading Focus on reducing food waste, not just boosting production

Price, not welfare, governs egg buying decisions

Ontario eggsAbout two-thirds of Canadian egg buyers have never bought eggs produced in cage-free facilities.

They say they could be motivated to change their buying habits – but price will be the key factor and not hen welfare.

That’s according to a study by NPD Group looking at consumer attitudes and demands for cage-free eggs, conducted last year for the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA). Continue reading Price, not welfare, governs egg buying decisions

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

Social media changing Canadian beef promotions

BIC_logoMore beef check-off dollars are going into social media than ever before – and it’s proven to be a very effective strategy for boosting consumer awareness and driving loyalty to Canadian beef.

That’s according to Heather Travis, Canada Beef’s Director of Public Relations and Marketing Communications, who’s been a long time champion of social media and has made the organization a leader amongst Canadian farm groups when it comes to using new media tools. Continue reading Social media changing Canadian beef promotions

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

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