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  Garlic growers learn about marketing opportunities
By Lindsay Chung - AgriNews Staff Writer

MABERLY - At the 2006 Garlic Field Day at Paul and Mary Lou Pospisil's Beaver Pond Estates here on June 25, garlic growers learned about different ways to market themselves and their products, and they found out they have many upcoming chances to promote "the stinking rose."

This was the sixth year that Paul, known as the Garlic Guru, and Mary Lou hosted the Garlic Field Day, billed as an opportunity for networking.

"Garlic is still a very new crop in Canada," Paul said. "There is very little good information out there, so the more growers share, the better."

Share, they did, as visitors toured Pospisil's garlic variety trials and heard informative presentations from their peers.

Marketing was an important part of the day, as growers learned about the demand for garlic and the many festivals in which they can take part.

Organic garlic growers Charlie and Sheila Robb of Minden, who run Charlie's Organic Garlic and Robb's Country Garden respectively, have already found a lot of success in Haliburton County.

They are members of the Haliburton County Farmers Association, which held its very first garlic workshop in April.

They invited Ted Maczka, the renowned Fish Lake Garlic Man, to share his knowledge about growing garlic, they showed visitors a garlic braid, and Charlie showed them a measuring device used for planting.

They also offered informative handouts and back issues of The Garlic News, which is edited by Paul, and they shared information from Growing Great Garlic by Ron Engeland.

Admission was by donation, and over 50 people showed up.

"It was very successful," Sheila said. "It was the first one in Haliburton County, and it generated a lot of interest."

The garlic workshop went so well that the Robbs were invited to have a booth at Minden's annual Timberfest on June 10.

The Robbs brought lots of information about scaping, harvesting and planting.

"It covered pretty well the whole gamut," Charlie said. "We really feel it was worthwhile. A lot of people went away happy."

At Garlic Field Day, Paul said the County Garlic Festival, a fixture in the eastern Ontario garlic scene for the past six years, was in danger of being cancelled due to lack of garlic, but organizer Christine Kosman is happy to report that the festival is going ahead as planned.

"It would be a shame if it died because if we lose one of these festivals, there's one of the best marketing tools gone," Paul said. "For a grower, in two days, you can sell more garlic than all year at farmers' markets."

The seventh annual County Garlic Festival will be held Saturday, August 19 at the historic Crystal Palace at the Prince Edward County Fairgrounds in Picton from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Kosman says there is still lots of room for vendors to participate in the festival, and they are not limited to garlic. She invites anybody with any products such as agriculture-related crafts and products, herbal products or crafts and honey to contact her at 613-476-5943.

It costs $55 for indoor booths and $35 for outdoor booths, and Kosman says space is practically unlimited, especially for outdoor vendors. She advises anyone who is interested to contact her before August 16 so they can be included in the event program.

This year's festival will feature guest speakers Paul Pospisil, who will speak about growing garlic and the various varieties of garlic, and Brian Woods, who will give a talk on the importance of heritage seeds, how to obtain them and how to save them.

The Academy Players will provide musical entertainment for visitors, and there will be many garlic contests that will be open to the public. Everyone is invited to enter the Garlic Peeling Contest, the Best Garlic Contest and the Best Garlic Condiment/Spread Contest.

Coming on the heels of this well-known festival is another exciting event that is promoting garlic further east, the Seaway Garlic Festival, which will be held at Connaught Acres near Chesterville September 9 and 10 in conjunction with the Agri-Tour.

This is the second year that Connaught Acres will be hosting the event, and it is getting bigger and better.

"It was a great success last year," organizer Debbie DeCooman said.

DeCooman says visitors can look forward to at least three cooking demonstrations both days, and Martin Reichert of Morewood will be doing a testing of up to 25 different varieties of garlic.

The Seaway Garlic Festival is also the site of the Eastern Ontario Garlic Awards, where the Woodman Trophy for Champion Garlic Grower will be hotly contested.

DeCooman says visitors can look forward to "a little bit of everything," including a scarecrow competition, wagon rides, a planting demonstration, children's games and displays, face painting, entertainment, a showcase of local artisans, and pie.

"I hope everyone will make it out," she said. "It sounds like it's going to be good."

Admission is $5, and there will be a barbecue on-site.

DeCooman says there is still room for new vendors, and it costs $50.

Anyone interested in showcasing their wares at the Seaway Garlic Festival can contact DeCooman at 613-448-3540.



Eastern Ontario AgriNews is published on the third Monday of each month. The printed version is distributed free by postal mail to farms in Eastern Ontario, Canada.

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