Minister's Award Winner
Pictured, left to right: Dalton McGuinty, Premier of Ontario; Dan Vander Kooi; Jennifer and Ron Gleason; Leona Dombrowsky, Minister of Agriculure, Food and Rural Affairs
Hillside Gardens Limited Simcoe County
Hillside Gardens Ltd. is a family farm that has supplied quality produce to consumers for more than four decades. Their latest innovation is helping to build trust in food safety and traceability by strengthening the gate to plate connection.
Ron Gleason, president, redesigned an existing software program for use as an innovative farm traceability program. The farm has hosted a pilot traceability project and shares its knowledge with other producers through on-farm tours and industry presentations. This innovation can be used by other growers to monitor their physical inventory, manage planting dates, spray records, production planning, staffing needs and enhances food safety and traceability.
The program is capable of tracing all field activities from harvest, to packing, to shipping dates and destinations. At the farm, lot IDs are assigned in each step in the process, and the end product is dated with a bar code sticker. The wireless, computerized system will only allow product that has been assigned to a load to be picked and scanned. This improves many aspects of the business, from rotation and quality issues to recall efficiency and inventory control. The system provides real time inventory and work is underway to expand its capabilities.
This innovation is giving the agri-food sector new tools that can help build consumer trust in Ontario food, from field to fork.