Premier's Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence

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Alfred - October 15, 2013

 

Showcasing Local Agri-Food Innovators

Ontario's agri-food industry is leading the way with innovative products and ideas that are creating local jobs and bringing more locally grown food to the dinner table.

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Front Row from Left to Right: Robin Turner, Jess Weatherhead, M.P.P. Grant Crack, Mario Bourgeois and George Wright; Back Row from Left to Right: Danny Beswick and Benjamin Bercier

Front Row from Left to Right: Robin Turner, Jess Weatherhead, M.P.P. Grant Crack, Mario Bourgeois and George Wright
Back Row from Left to Right: Danny Beswick and Benjamin Bercier

Award Winners

Cassel Brewery Company Ltd. - Prescott & Russell County

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M.P.P. Grant Crack, Mario Bourgeois and Benjamin Bercier

M.P.P. Grant Crack, Mario Bourgeois and Benjamin Bercier


Ah, March. The season of maple sugar, maple syrup and maple beer. Yes, beer. Since 2008, Cassel Brewery has been producing a limited run of Railroad Special Maple Rye beer each spring. Maple sap replaces water in this special brew, while rye malt adds a hint of whisky flavour. The final touch is a dose of maple syrup added during fermentation that boosts the alcohol level to eight per cent. Despite the sweet additions, the final product ends up tasting smooth rather than sugary. This spring, fans quickly snapped up all 1,600 litres of Railroad Special-and, no doubt, raised a glass to the brewmasters at this innovative microbrewery.

Castor River Farm-Ottawa Region

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M.P.P. Grant Crack and George Wright

M.P.P. Grant Crack and George Wright


On Castor River Farm, acre after acre of grain ripens in the sun; barley, rye, triticale and more than half a dozen varieties of wheat, which makes it all the more surprising that this producer's biggest niche is gluten-free products. Owners George Wright and Kim MacMullin have pioneered organic protocols for growing gluten-free grains, relying on carefully planned crop rotations and rigorous cleaning of machinery to keep their buckwheat and oats completely uncontaminated. Weekly testing confirms their measures are effective. Rolled oats are popular with their gluten-sensitive customers, and they have recently introduced a new line of prepackaged pancake and cookie mixes. With more and more consumers going gluten-free, these products now account for half of Castor River's sales.

Roots and Shoots Farm-Ottawa Region

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M.P.P. Grant Crack, Robin Turner, Jess Weatherhead and Danny Beswick

M.P.P. Grant Crack, Robin Turner, Jess Weatherhead and Danny Beswick


There may be a foot of snow outside, but you can still enjoy fresh, Ontario-grown greens,at least if you live in the Ottawa Region. At Roots and Shoots Farm, Robin Turner and Jess Weatherhead grow spinach, kale and lettuce in 11,000 square feet (1,021 meters square) of greenhouse throughout the winter, all without heat. The trick is to seed the crops in September to ensure the plants are mature enough to withstand freezing temperatures once the mercury drops. Then Turner and Weatherhead cover the greens and harvest them on days when the greenhouse temperature reaches 3° Celcius. Customers snap up the frost-sweetened greens at farmers' markets and via direct sales. As a result, Roots and Shoots has extended its growing season and created a year-round business for employees.

 


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