Premier's Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence


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2016 Leaders in Innovation Awards

 

Vineland Growers' Cooperative Ltd. - Niagara Region

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Minister Jeff Leal, Matthew Ecker, Michael Ecker, Phil Tregunno, John Thwaites, June Denbak, Premier Wynne

Minister Jeff Leal, Matthew Ecker, Michael Ecker, Phil Tregunno, John Thwaites, June Denbak, Premier Wynne

Ontarians are now able to enjoy more locally grown pears, thanks to a new blight-resistant pear variety. The new "Cold Snap™" variety, developed by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada features a firmer texture, sweeter taste and larger size. Since being introduced in 2011, more than 75,000 "Cold Snap™" pear trees have been planted in Ontario and Nova Scotia. Thanks to the variety's natural disease resistance and improved planting density, Ontario growers are achieving higher yields and using less spray to control disease. While Ontario-produced pears aren't typically available beyond late December, Vineland Growers' Cooperative have adopted state-of-the-art, atmosphere-controlled storage technology to keep the harvest fresh throughout the winter. This ensures customers have access to locally-grown options until the end of March, and brings additional revenue to growers during the winter months. Half a million of the pears hit the market in fall 2015, and retailers were sold out by early January 2016. Plans to double production are now underway with sub-licensing agreements to help growers in other parts of Canada offer the new variety.

Asparagus Farmers of Ontario - Norfolk County

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Minister Jeff Leal, Bernie Solymar, Premier Wynne

Minister Jeff Leal, Bernie Solymar, Premier Wynne

The Asparagus Farmers of Ontario (AFO) is the first organization representing growers to develop its own seed business. In 1996, the organization - which represents 90 growers across the province -- negotiated exclusive rights to new asparagus varieties developed through the University of Guelph's breeding program with great success. In the late 1990s, the AFO introduced their first commercial variety, the Guelph Millennium. It quickly became the seed of choice for growers in Ontario, representing up to 95 per cent of all asparagus grown in this province. Thousands of acres of Guelph Millennium can also be found growing in Michigan, Washington and further afield. The new variety has since expanded into the European market, generating worldwide sales of more than $1.2 million. Profits from the sales are re-invested through a trust to support further innovative breeding research and marketing programs at AFO. With a second variety called Guelph Eclipse slated to hit the market in 2017 and several other varieties currently in the pipeline, AFO is putting Ontario asparagus on the global map.

Evynn's Advantage Inc. - Durham Region

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Minister Jeff Leal, Carol Syme, Jeff Syme, Premier Wynne

Minister Jeff Leal, Carol Syme, Jeff Syme, Premier Wynne

Across the country, many Canadians depend on a liquid diet for the nutrition they need. Most use a commercial baby formula made from syrup and synthetic nutrients and oils, which is delivered directly to their stomachs through a gastric tube. Jeff and Carol Syme's daughter, Evynn, was on this diet as a result of a health condition. When Evynn developed an intolerance to commercial formulas, the Symes to created their own liquid blend from fresh whole foods, with dramatic results: within 18 months of changing her diet, Evynn required no hospital visits. The improvements led the Symes to establish Evynn's Advantage to help other people in similar situations. After extensive research, development and lab testing, the company is preparing to launch its first products. Made from Ontario vegetables, fruits, grains and yogurt, their products can be refrigerated for up to three months or frozen to keep even longer.


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