Category Archives: new crops

Asian eggplant: one of Ontario’s newest local foods

Asian and Indian eggplant - web
By Lilian Schaer for AgInnovation Ontario

Vineland, Ontario – Chinese long and Indian round eggplant are one of Ontario’s newest locally grown vegetable crops, thanks to ongoing research at the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland).

Watch the video.

Some quantities of field-grown Canadian Asian eggplant are already available at retail stores in Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec, but researchers at Vineland are also working on developing year-round greenhouse production of the veggies.

Vineland’s World Crops program started in 2008 with a series of projects to evaluate different vegetable crops popular with new Canadians from Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. Okra and eggplant were ultimately selected as the two most promising crops based on potential volumes and growing ability in Ontario. Continue reading

State-of-the-art research greenhouse opens in Vineland

Vineland's new greenhouse facility - web
By Lilian Schaer for AgInnovation Ontario

Vineland, Ontario – The largest, most modern horticultural research greenhouse in North America with commercial-scale height and growing rooms dedicated to horticulture is making its official debut on June 3.

As part of the grand opening of the 40,000 square foot facility at the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland), the public is invited for a tour of the greenhouse.

Watch Vineland’s time lapse video of the construction.

The older greenhouse facility on the Vineland campus no longer met requirements for research purposes and was costly to maintain, whereas the new complex, which sits on approximately one acre, is efficient and built to the latest commercial scale standards. Continue reading

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

Ontario farmers find sweet success with birch syrup

Laura, Konrad, Adam, Jake, Bert, Kathy and Roxy (the dog) Beilke - web

From left, Laura, Konrad, Adam, Jake, Bert, and Kathy Beilke and Roxy the dog.

By Jeanine Moyer for AgInnovation Ontario

Moorefield, Ontario – What began as Bert and Kathy Beilke’s passion to grow food and connect with nature more than 20 years ago, has since turned into an innovative new food product.

Golden birch syrup is a semi-sweet flavoured syrup made from sap of yellow birch trees on the Beilkes’ Wagram Springs Farm in Wellington County near Moorefield.

“Still a new product in Ontario, birch syrup offers so many unique opportunities,” says Kathy. “It’s often used as a natural sweetener or ingredient and has become very popular with our customers.” 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