Category Archives: berries

Seed fund investment helps local gourmet food processor double sales in only one year

This week’s story comes to us from Bioenterprise.

By Lilian Schaer

Guelph, Ontario-based Rootham Gourmet Preserves has a long history of sourcing locally grown fruits and vegetables and partnering with local farms and businesses.

As the local food movement took hold, owner Will Rootham-Roberts started seeing increased interest in locally made and sourced small-batch gourmet condiments. He recognized an opportunity for the family-owned company to expand and offer Ontario farmers the possibility of creating and selling shelf-stable jams, jellies and sauces from their own locally grown produce.

But he needed help turning that vision into reality – help he received from Bioenterprise in the form of a grant from the Bioenterprise Seed Fund.

“Thanks to Bioenterprise, we were able to expand our processing capabilities and undertake a direct marketing campaign to promote our services to potential customers,” said Rootham-Roberts. Continue reading

Do-it-yourself blueberries coming to a garden centre near you

By Lilian Schaer for AgInnovation Ontario

Vineland – Ontarians will soon be able to easily grow blueberries on their own balconies or patios.

That’s thanks to an agricultural innovation made possible by Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative, and the Canadian Ornamental Horticulture Alliance.

Demand for more edible potted plants combined with heightened consumer interest in food production led researchers at Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland) to work on new technology to allow consumers to more easily grow plants in containers.

Dr. Youbin Zheng and his team have developed a new organic growing material – known in the plant-growing world as substrate – that is specifically suited to growing plants like blueberries or other small fruits in containers instead of in gardens. Continue reading

Sunny days: New tool helps greenhouses make light of winter

Per Aage Lysaa - webBy Lisa McLean for AgInnovation Ontario

Guelph – Each year, Canadian greenhouse growers face a challenge nearly as old as the sun itself: During the darker days of a Canadian winter, nothing grows.

Greenhouse production enters a mandatory hiatus, because there is not enough sunlight to sustain plant growth. Facilities are cleaned out. Plants are replanted.

And when the first harvest of the new season finally arrives, Canadian growers must battle for space on supermarket shelves, where produce from warmer climates has enjoyed its day in the sun.

Now, a systems integration company with facilities in Norway, China and Canada is offering a solution to Canadian greenhouse growers: LED lighting systems that can augment the sun’s rays, even when sunshine is scarce. Continue reading

Keeping an invasive new fruit pest under control

Spotted Wing Drosophila under the microscope - webBy Lilian Schaer for AgInnovation Ontario

Click here to watch video

Simcoe, Ontario – A new invasive vinegar fly is threatening Ontario’s soft-skinned berry and tender fruit crops. But thanks to the Ontario Farm Innovation Program (OFIP), researchers and farmers are learning more about Spotted Wing Drosophila and how they can keep the pest from destroying their fruit.

Unlike common vinegar flies that are attracted to spoiled fruit, Spotted Wing Drosophila goes after healthy fruit just before harvest. It lays eggs underneath the skin of intact fruit, and as the larvae feed, the fruit tissue breaks down and becomes soft and leaky, resulting in decreased fruit quality and yield.

“Spotted Wing Drosophila has been on the radar in North America since 2010 and it was first identified in Ontario late that year following identification in other provinces and in the United States,” explains Hannah Fraser, Horticulture Entomology Program Lead with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Continue reading

The 10 most popular innovation stories of 2015

2991-AgInnovation-Logo-avatarBy Lilian Schaer for AgInnovation Ontario

Guelph – As we get ready to bid 2015 good-bye, we thought we would take a look back at the many stories we’ve covered this year. All are focused on food and farming, on Ontario, and on innovation.

We’ve met some fascinating people over the last 12 months and covered some great innovations. Of course we loved them all, but here are the ones that resonated with you the most – our top 10 most popular agricultural innovation stories of 2015.

(By the way, our French-speaking readers have slightly different preferences – click here for our most popular French language stories). Continue reading