Guelph vertical farm brings leafy green production to industrial property

The Great Indoors

By Matt McIntosh

Guelph – Are skyrocketing land prices preventing you from starting your own farm business? Don’t fret, because crops can be grown in old industrial buildings too – legal crops at that.

Vertical farming – a comparatively new agricultural system – offers some promise for producing crops in novel ways and novel places.

For Oliver Lauzon, a Guelph entrepreneur and past renewable energy professional, vertical farming also offers a chance to continue an environmentally-focused career.

Lauzon and his father, Paul, opened Molly’s Vertical Farming in June 2017. The business, which is named after Lauzon’s Great Dane and based out of a disused 4,000 square foot auto body shop, will produce hydroponically grown Boston and Romaine lettuce for both wholesale and direct local markets. Continue reading

Local food company feeds raw food niche with fibre-rich wrap

By Jane Robinson

St Catharines – Joanne Van Liefland never pegged herself an entrepreneur. But that was before she brought some of her homemade, vegetable-based wraps to a meeting that caught the taste buds of a store owner.

That was 2012. Van Liefland had a full-time job in education, and was making the dehydrated, raw wraps for herself, family and friends to satisfy her craving for bread-like products after switching to a raw food diet.

The chance tasting led to her first order. Six months later, she launched Wrap It Up Raw.

Her food business manufactures organic, vegan wraps with no gluten, wheat or dairy in St. Catharines, Ontario, and sells them in 150 independent food stores in Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Alberta and BC.

“It’s been quite a surprise at how easily the business has grown,” says Van Liefland, a registered holistic nutritionist. “Customers have come to me, I didn’t even go looking.” Continue reading

Local grape-drying system helps Canadian winemakers deal with cooler climate

By Lilian Schaer

Vineland – A made-in-Ontario grape-drying system is helping Niagara winemakers work with Canada’s shorter growing season and produce more premium wines in the process.

It was those winemakers who approached researchers at the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland) in 2011 for solutions to enhance their grapes. The answer lay with a centuries-old grape-drying tradition from Italy called Appassimento that the Vineland team adapted for use in Canada.

“We’ve developed a patented system here at Vineland for drying grapes and reducing their moisture content before making wine,” explains Darren Ward, Vineland’s manager of business planning and commercialization.

The drying process results in less water and more concentrated flavour and sugar in the grapes which, when translated into wine, means greater flavour and aroma complexity. Continue reading

Peeling back the cancer-fighting potential of Ontario-grown onions

By Jane Robinson

Guelph – There’s a new reason to cry when you peel back the layers on a local Ontario onion in your kitchen…tears of joy, that is.

New research at the University of Guelph has found a way to safely extract the free-radical fighting properties of Ontario-grown onions, creating new opportunities for Ontario farmers and the nutraceutical and food production industries.

In the not-so-distant future, you could be enjoying the healthy properties of onions through supplements, additives and creams.

Scientist have long known that onions carry the highest content of quercetin (an antioxidant flavonoid) of nearly 40 different fruits and vegetables. Flavonoids like quercetin attract and neutralize free radicals – the naturally-occurring molecules in human tissue that can lead to cancerous cells.

Suresh Neethirajan, a bioengineering researcher in the School of Engineering at the University of Guelph, is in the final phase of an Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) funded project examining the varying levels of quercetin in Ontario-grown onions. Continue reading

Guelph cider start-up brings local ideas near and far

Revel in a good drink

Revel Cider’s Tariq Ahmed extracts a sample

By Matt McIntosh

Guelph – Revel Cider Company may only be three years old, but its brand already spans the province.

With between 70 and 80 bars and restaurants on the customer list, the company’s hard cider continues to exploit a lucrative market for locally made and sourced craft brews.

“We only sell to bars and restaurants at this point. They’re all over Ontario, from Thunder Bay to Ottawa and London,” said Tariq Ahmed, the company’s founder and sole employee.

The basis for Revel Cider first started fermenting during Ahmed’s time as a farm hand. An old cider press in one of the farm’s outbuildings peaked his interest, so he started brewing as a hobby. That hobby became Revel Cider in March 2013. Continue reading