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Ontario Recognizes On-Farm Innovation

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  • Local agricultural innovators are the recipients of the first Premier's Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence.

    The five-year, $2.5-million Premier's Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence, announced as part of the 2006 provincial budget, recognizes that farmers have always been innovative in the running of their businesses and will foster even greater innovation across the province's agri-food sector.

    Fifty-five regional awards valued at $5,000 each have been presented. The recipients of the Premier's Award, of $100,000, and the Minister's Award, of $50,000, were selected from the regional winners and were recognized at the Premier's 2007 Agri-Food Summit.

    Individuals and/or groups representing agri-food businesses and organizations were eligible to submit applications. The innovation had to have been developed and used on an Ontario farm, must have the potential for use on a broader basis and for having a positive effect on the agriculture industry.

    Applications were reviewed by an independent panel comprising a cross-section of Ontario's agri-food industry. Four broad criteria were used:

    Uniqueness and originality

    Stage of development

    The impact or benefits of the innovation

    Adoption and/or commercialization.

    The following applicants from eastern Ontario received $5,000 regional Premier's Awards for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence:

    Ferme Henrard et Fils

    Prescott and Russell County

    Disappointed with corn prices, the Henrard family began investigating the potential of an on-farm digester two-and-a-half years ago. While this innovation is still in the design stage, Phillipe Henrard expects to begin construction of the digester in 2007-2008. Following harvest, the corn will be converted into ethanol and fed into the digester with pig slurry and recycled restaurant oils. The bio-gas produced by the digester will be used to fuel a generator to produce heat and electricity.

    Fitzroy Beef Farmers Co-operative Inc.

    City of Ottawa

    When the discovery of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in the Canadian cattle herd closed export markets for Ontario's producers, a group of Ottawa area farmers banded together to sell quality, government-inspected frozen beef to consumers in the local marketplace. The cattle raised by the Fitzroy Beef Farmers' Co-operative are primarily grass-fed during the summer months, and receive wheat supplements in the winter. By marketing their beef as a group, all members of the co-op realize savings.

    Fritz and Paul Klaesi

    Renfrew County

    Also winners of the $50,000 Minister's Award, presented at the Premier's 2007 Agri-Food Summit.

    Fritz and Paul Klaesi reaped the benefits of putting a lid on things by covering their manure pit, allowing them to capture the gases that are created. These gases are fed into a generator and the electricity generated by this small-scale anaerobic biodigestor powers two homesteads and the farm buildings. Plans for the future include securing a contract with Hydro One for the purchase of power in excess of the farm's requirements.

    Fulton's Pancake House and Sugar Bush

    Lanark County

    Fulton's Pancake House and Sugar Bush dramatically improved its business with the help of a consultant, who showed them how the business could flourish with a new organizational approach and professional management. A redesign of the agri-forestry based business integrated all areas of the multi-faceted operation including maple production, a restaurant and banquet facilities, and a maple shop. The facility is now a year round business that offers entertainment, tours, team-building, corporate retreats and more.

    Kendu Holsteins

    Renfrew County

    Andrew Kenny realized there was no sense crying over spilt water - instead, he built a better water bowl. The dairy farmer developed a water bowl that is deeper than regular bowls, preventing cows from spilling water and getting their feed wet. The cows at Kendu Holsteins are unlikely to go thirsty either - their water bowls have the highest capacity and the highest flow rate. The end result is less waste due to wet feed and easier-to-clean feed mangers. Kenny sought feedback from other dairy producers to develop the zero-spill water bowls, and demonstrates his product at farm shows.

    New Terra Farm

    Leeds and Grenville County

    New Terra Farm is a small, pesticide and herbicide-free mixed farm, raising vegetables and meats to market directly to consumers in the area. Scott Kelland and his family modeled this project after the Community Supported Agriculture approach. In 2006, 10 families subscribed to New Terra Farms market garden. For a family of two to four, $850 secures a basket of farm-fresh produce for the 23 or 24 week growing season, from May 24 to October. The Kellands anticipate subscriptions from as many as 30 families in 2007. In addition, free-range organic eggs, pork, beef, chicken, lamb and goat are available throughout the year. New Terra Farm helps keep consumers' food dollars in their own communities.

    Saunders Farm

    City of Ottawa

    The Saunders Farm is one of Ottawa's leading agri-tourism destinations. This 100-acre farm was one of the region's first pick-your-own strawberry operations. In 1991, the owners of the farm developed a new vision for a fall celebration. Following extensive renovations, including the addition of 11 hedge mazes, a fall festival was organized. Held every year since, attendance has increased significantly. In the fifth year, Saunders Farm attracted 15,000 visitors. This past year almost 50,000 visited the farm. The Saunders have expanded their operation to include hosting corporate functions, school tours and summer tourism.

    Terryland Farms Inc.

    Prescott-Russell County

    Dairy farms produce more than milk; they also produce manure. Terryland Farms is turning this by-product into energy using a methane digester in combination with a small scale bio-diesel system. Next, owner George Heinzle plans to implement a new conceptual design to move fully into cold-crushing of oil seed crops on-farm. This will generate energy and provide a new use for fuel grade canola oil. As well, Heinzle is working to be the first to sell electricity under the Standard Offer Program which will offer higher prices for power from renewable sources.

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