Premier's Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence

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2006 Regional Award Winners

Abercrombie & Associates/Stephen Coulthard Farms Ltd. - Perth County

Abercrombie & Associates/Stephen Coulthard Farms Ltd. receiving their awardEnergy to burn – that's the result of a partnership between a farmer and an aggregate associate. Scott Abercrombie, Associate, and Stephen Coulthard of Stephen Coulthard Farms Ltd. recognized that Ontario's limited supply of wood fuel pellets and sawdust could be turned into an opportunity.They began looking for alternative materials to turn into fuel pellets. After extensive research and testing they have proven that crop residues are a great resource. The partners now collect corn cob, soybean straw and corn stover, and process these materials into heat-generating fuel pellets.

AMCO Farms - Essex County

AMCO Farms receiving their awardEnergy costs are a large part of every greenhouse grower's expenditures… unless that grower is Fausto Amicone, of AMCO Farms Inc. Amicone installed a Biomass Combuster System that was adapted to meet the needs of his operation to offset energy requirements.With an investment of almost $6 million, some time and more effort, the combuster was retro-fitted to work efficiently, and at capacity, for the size of the greenhouse operation. AMCO is now looking to commercialize the system to help the greenhouse sector meet its green energy needs.

Ausable Produce - Lambton County

Ausable Produce receiving their awardAusable Produce took an existing technology and improved upon it, to better meet the needs of the marketplace. Stan Kwarciak came up with an innovative packing option for onions. A better bag – with tighter mesh, a new fastening system – a plastic tag called "Kwik Lok", and a more attractive label adds up to success for Kwarciak, Ausable Produce and Ontario's consumers.The Kwik Lok tag can have traceability details printed on it relating to lot, date and producer.

Benner Farms Limited o/a Heritage Line Herbs - Elgin County

Benner Farms Limited receiving their awardFor Deb Benner of Benner Farms Limited, one innovation just wasn't enough. In the process of converting her tobacco farm to an herb operation with an emphasis on agri-tourism, she introduced eight innovative practices.The potting shed and greenhouse feature in-floor radiant heating systems, floor heat pads and a corn furnace; the former bulk kilns and bunk house have become a kitchen, a store and washrooms; and an outdoor tea room was created. Benner is also pursuing organic certification for her herb operation and has plans to produce essential oils for sale on the farm, as part of the proposed expansion of agri-tourism activities at Heritage Line Herbs.

Hungry Hollow Organics Inc. - Middlesex County

Hungry Hollow Organics Inc receiving their awardHungry Hollow Organics Inc., operated by Ike and Beatrice Enter, is a certified organic family farm.The Enters have expanded production to include value-added prepared food products,which allows them to use more of every carcass.Their organic ground meat products such as chili, shepherds pie and lazonga require more inputs than Hungry Hollow can supply, providing other primary producers with a ready market. They have developed a brand with professional packaging and marketing materials to support the products at retail.

Kerr Farms Sales (Chatham) Ltd. - Chatham-Kent County

Ker Farms Sales Ltd. receiving their awardRobert Kerr found a way to bring more stability to the market for high quality beef – by differentiating his products.No hormones, no antibiotics, no feed with animal by-products. Beef producers,who are willing to meet those criteria become part of the vertically integrated supply chain created by Kerr Farm Sales. In return, producers receive a guaranteed base price. Retailers in the supply chain are able to buy at quoted prices. Kerr Farm Sales is now working to develop value-added processed products from trim, which accounts for a large amount of the usable meat of each carcass.

London Dairy Farms - Middlesex County

London Dairy Farms receiving their awardDan Cornwell developed a retractable roof for the feed shed.This lowered construction costs, provides more shelter for the feed and results in less wastage, as feed trucks are able to dump their loads more effectively.This innovation is truly beneficial to London Dairy Farms.

Minten Farmily Farms Ltd. - Lambton County

Minten Family Farms Ltd. receiving their awardThree years ago, Minten Family Farms Ltd. expanded its swine operation.More livestock also means more deadstock. Frank Minten wanted an effective and environmentally sound way to handle deadstock. He found it in Manitoba – a composting system consisting of two large vessels.The innovation is in use on the Minten Farm, and was made even more efficient by obtaining provincial approval to transport the operation's deadstock to a single location.

Munro Honey - Lambton County

Munro Honey receiving their awardDavis and John Bryans had a "honey"of an idea when they decided to add value to their farming operation. Munro Honey was a well-established honey production facility. The Bryans wanted more.Now, they don't just produce honey – they sell it… along with beekeeping equipment and bees, including queens, and provide pollination services. Davis and John also established a commercial meadery, which in addition to the speciality honeys, is proving to be a good draw for their new agri-tourism venture.

Murgo Farms Ltd. - Oxford County

Murgo Farms Ltd. receiving their award from the Minister of Agriculture, Food & Rural AffairsEven the busiest farmers have down time. Grain elevator operator James Hammerton of Murgo Farms Ltd. now spends his down time running an agricultural tree trimming service – keeping him busy and employed year-round.Hammerton adapted machinery to safely and efficiently trim branches and chip wood.

Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers - Essex County

Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers eceiving their award from the Minister of Agriculture, Food & Rural AffairsThe Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers earned more than a passing grade for their innovation.They introduced the Healthy Hearts, Healthy Minds (HHHM) school program in 2004, to improve the eating habits of today's youth by providing healthy alternatives to schools.The program also provides producers with the opportunity to educate teachers, students and parents about the nutritional value of Ontario greenhouse vegetables, the benefits of healthy eating and greenhouse vegetable production.The HHHM program has been trademarked.

Sunshine Farms - Chatham-Kent County

Sunshine Farms receiving their award from the Minister of Agriculture, Food & Rural AffairsWhen processors replaced John Jaques'Ontario-grown asparagus with imported product, the farmer was in a pickle.He responded by creating a new product. At first, the operator of Sunshine Farms looked into freezing and dehydrating, but found these processes to be too expensive. Innovation hit – and Jaques developed a pickled asparagus project to help make the farming operation more sustainable.The pickled product line now includes a number of organic products, including beans, carrots, beets and garlic.

Viticultural Roundtable of Southwestern Ontario - Essex County

Viticultural Roundtable of Southwestern Ontario receiving their award from the Minister of Agriculture, Food & Rural AffairsA group of grape growers in southwestern Ontario certainly did their homework when developing a sustainable protocol for their operations.Vineyard management decisions are made with the environment in mind these days, so that production practices minimize negative effects on the environment while maximizing grape quality and quantity.The next step is to develop a recognizable seal, or sign, to help consumers choose wines that have been produced from grapes grown in a sustainable manner.