Category Archives: food

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

Growing Canada’s emerging sweet potato industry

By Lilian Schaer for AgInnovation Ontario

Vineland – Canada’s first sweet potato variety is expected for release next year. And now work is underway to ensure Canadian farmers can also access sweet potato cuttings – called slips – right here at home.

To help meet booming Canadian demand for sweet potatoes, Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland) is developing new varieties that grow well in Canada’s cooler climate and shorter growing season.

About 1,700 acres of the healthy tuber are currently grown in Canada – mostly in southern Ontario’s Norfolk County – but they’re all longer season varieties from the southern United States.

That’s also where Canada’s growers are getting their sweet potato slips every spring to plant their crops, but they can be in short supply and quality could be compromised.

“Canadian sweet potato growers use U.S. propagators and breeding programs because we don’t have the infrastructure and varieties here,” said research scientist Viliam Zvalo of Vineland. “Also, slip propagation has to be started in March when the ground could still be frozen in Canada. Our challenge is to figure out how we can produce them here so we can supply Canadian growers with quality slips at a reasonable price.” Continue reading

Incubator uses Growing Forward 2 funding to give local food businesses a start

This week’s story comes to us from the Agricultural Adaptation Council.

By Lilian Schaer

Toronto – A not-for-profit food business incubator in Toronto is helping entrepreneurs get their fledgling food companies off the ground.

Food Starter offers food prep, processing, packaging and storage facilities to industry entrants at a reduced rate, as well as courses to teach entrepreneurs about key aspects of the food industry, like food safety, regulatory compliance, labelling, accounting, marketing, business management and human resources.

The Toronto Food Business Incubator partnered with the City of Toronto to access funding from Growing Forward 2 to develop and launch Food Starter in November 2015.

“A lot of people here are good at recipes but don’t know about all the other things needed to run a food business,” explains Carlos Correia, Food Starter’s Facility Manager. “We cover all aspects of business development to give them information they didn’t know existed but would be road block to keep them from moving forward.” Continue reading

Online marketing opens consumer doors for Ontario beef farmers

Rob and Maryjo Tait of Celtic Ridge Farms

By Jeanine Moyer for AgInnovation Ontario

Dutton – Ontario beef farmers are taking ‘local’ online to reach new customers.

Farm to City, a new marketing model with a web-based ordering system, is opening up direct-to-customer marketing opportunities for beef farmers such as Rob and Maryjo Tait, of Celtic Ridge Farms.

The young farm family recently launched the online ordering system and was thrilled by the response from customers.

“We knew our farm meat products needed an online presence,” said Rob. “Our customers are shopping, researching and sharing their food experiences online. The Farm to City online model is attracting new customers and opening up new opportunities for us.” Continue reading

Feeding the fresh shrimp market from an Ontario hog barn

By Jane Robinson for AgInnovation Ontario

Campbellford – There’s no manual for farming shrimp in Ontario. No best practices or specialists to consult. But that didn’t deter the Cocchio family from taking the plunge into raising the delicate crustaceans in a former pig barn.

When the market fell out of pig farming about 10 years ago, Paul and Tracy Cocchio found themselves with three relatively new, empty barns on their Campbellford, Ontario farm.

A casual internet search for alternate uses for barns turned up shrimp farming. It peaked their interest enough to travel to the U.S. to visit a few shrimp farmers, and Paul took an Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) workshop on trout farming.

As the Cocchios pondered their options, they factored in the untapped market opportunities for Ontario-grown shrimp.

“Shrimp is the number one imported seafood in North America, and we knew that nearly every restaurant between Toronto and Ottawa has shrimp on the menu,” said Brad Cocchio, who runs the operation with his wife Jordan, and his parents Paul and Tracy. Continue reading