Category Archives: food

Meals on Mars: Life in space – and on earth – relies on plants

Mike Dixon with plants growing in a controlled envrionment - webBy Lisa McLean for AgInnovation Ontario

Guelph – Plants are hardier than people. It’s a lesson Dr. Mike Dixon has learned in his lab, where he grows plants under “weird” conditions. Someday, astronauts will apply his research to growing food crops in space, but today his findings are benefiting Earth.

Dixon is Director of the Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility at the University of Guelph. The lab is the most advanced facility of its kind in the world, housing equipment such as hypobaric chambers that allow researchers to experiment with unusual growth conditions such as reduced atmospheric pressure. Continue reading

Growing local grains, one seed at a time

Bread and grain close up - webBy Kelly Daynard for AgInnovation Ontario

Winchester, Ontario – In recent years, the local food movement has taken Canada by storm. There’s lots of interest by consumers in sourcing local products and in knowing the farmers who grow them. But in Shelley Spruit’s opinion, there has always been a missing ingredient.

Spruit is a farmer who professionally trained as a baker at culinary schools in British Columbia and Vermont. For many years, she and her husband Tony operated the Winchelsea Farms banquet hall.  Her training taught her that all good baking starts with good flour –and she was frustrated that she couldn’t find locally produced flour that met her quality standards.

They added to their original 200 acre property when they purchased an additional 50 acres, calling it Against the Grain Farms. In addition to growing conventional crops, they also began experimenting with alternatives, planting seeds from corn and barley varieties not traditionally grown in Ontario.  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

Lighting the way to year-round greenhouse veggie harvest

Supplemental lighting shining on peppers - webBy Lilian Schaer for AgInnovation Ontario

Click here to watch the video

Leamington – Ontario’s greenhouse vegetable growers are experimenting with new lighting systems in hopes of being able to harvest locally grown vegetables year round.

There isn’t enough natural sunlight in southern Ontario during the fall and winter months to take a greenhouse pepper crop through to harvest.

This led the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers (OGVG) to access funding through the Ontario Farm Innovation Program (OFIP) for research to evaluate the effectiveness of supplemental light from overhead High Pressure Sodium (HPS) light bulbs and LED bulbs at plant level. Continue reading

Food processors get a kick start

Pict4 - webBy Jeanine Moyer for AgInnovation Ontario

Toronto – With nearly 20,000 new food products introduced to the market each year, consumers have a lot of choice.

Each new product represents countless hours of hard work perfecting the product, conducting market research, meeting regulatory requirements and making critical business decisions.

Food Starter is a new venture that provides a launch pad for the discovery, creation and success of new food products and companies in Toronto, ON.

Launched in 2015, Food Starter is a hands-on incubator program for entrepreneurs who want make a breakthrough in the food market. The 20,000 square foot facility provides access to shared production and packaging facilities, business advisory services and a structured training program to help entrepreneurs build and grow their food processing business. Continue reading