Guelph – Ontario’s greenhouse sector has made significant advances in water, nutrient and energy technology to manage the year-round, high-efficiency production of crops like tomatoes, peppers, herbs, berries and a wide variety of green vegetables.
Yet, despite its positive environmental track record, the sector remains a high user of plastic, especially in the form of small clips that support tomato plants in the greenhouse. Those clips are an integral part of greenhouse tomato production, but often end up in landfill because they can contain tomato vine residues.
Now, new research at the University of Guelph aims to substitute plastic clips with bio-based biodegradable ones – enabling easier composting of tomato vines and other crops at the end of their life span, reducing land filling and lowering the greenhouse sector’s carbon footprint.
“Currently, polypropylene is the main plastic used to produce these support structures, but this is a petroleum-derived plastic that is non-renewable and non-biodegradable,” says Prof. Manjusri Misra of the University of Guelph’s biological engineering and plant agriculture departments. Continue reading →
Guelph – Hundreds of varieties of fruits and vegetables grow in Ontario each year, but many Ontario residents still face barriers to accessing those foods. Now, an innovative food accessibility program in Guelph is making it easier for its community members to buy fresh produce.
The SEED – a community food project that delivers community programs to address food insecurity – offers weekly, affordable fresh food markets with items priced on a sliding price scale. The markets, running a few hours each week now in two neighbourhoods in Guelph, offer a large selection of fresh fruits and vegetables to residents who may face income, transportation or other barriers to eating well.
“When people come to the market, they choose what they want to pay,” says Becca Clayton, community food markets coordinator at The SEED. “On the reduced end of the scale, we price items as low as we can offer while still covering our costs. The upper value of the scale is retail value. Customers can pay the retail end or the reduced rate, or anything in between — no questions asked.”
While the community market has been operating in a downtown location at the Guelph Community Health Centre for less than a year, the program is already expanding. A second site, in a so-called “food desert” (located a significant distance from grocery stores) in Guelph’s east end opened in April 2018. Continue reading →
Ontario’s greenhouse pepper growers are struggling to control a very problematic invasive insect, but have very few effective options. Pepper weevils are threatening the province’s $420 million greenhouse pepper industry – a high value crop that covers about 520 hectares (1,285 acres) in Ontario.
University of Guelph researcher Dr. Cynthia Scott-Dupree is testing a genetic control strategy that could bring much-needed hope to growers.
“Pepper weevils began causing substantial economic losses in Ontario in 2015,” says Scott-Dupree, a professor in the School of Environmental Sciences and Bayer Chair in Sustainable Pest Management. “There really aren’t any effective insecticides that control the adult, and the direct damage caused to the pepper is invisible until you cut it open.”
Adult female pepper weevils lay a single egg in a puncture wound on the surface of the pepper. When the egg hatches, the larvae chew into the pepper to feed. The adult emerges inside the fruit, feeds on the pepper a little longer, mates and then exits the fruit. And the cycle starts all over.
Scott-Dupree started working on sterile insect technique (SIT) about five years ago to control a leafminer in Ontario-grown chrysanthemums. She was then approached by Bruce Power about the potential to use gamma radiation to mitigate insect pest problems in Ontario agriculture.
“I steered them to the pepper weevil issue as I knew that growers were stuck for solutions,” she says. Continue reading →
It’s been nearly two years since the Ontario Agri-Food Venture Centre (OAFVC) opened its doors to grow the agriculture and food industry in Eastern Ontario and the results are outstanding.
“Our clients are winning international food awards, creating new processing opportunities for local farmers and generally boosting the food and farming industry in our area,” says Trissia Mellor, Agriculture Manager with Northumberland County and OAFVC.
Designed with farmers in mind, the not-for-profit, small batch food processing facility supports fresh thinking and value-adding opportunities to increase farm revenue. OAFVC specializes in services and on-site features for recipe development, food-processing start-up and expansions, research and development and test batches and packaging. Continue reading →
Ontario farm uses crop selection, branding to gain big markets
By Lisa McLean
Leamington – How does a first-generation family-run greenhouse land its branded products in grocery stores across Canada and much of the U.S.? By perfecting its growing process, and adding a little Zing!.
Jordan Kniaziew, vice-president of sales and marketing at Leamington-based Orangeline Farms says since his family entered farming in 2000, they’ve focused on finding the best varieties and seed selections for peppers and other crops.
Since 2013, the family has been growing, packing and shipping its own products — including award-winning peppers and greenhouse strawberries – under the Zing! Healthy Foods brand.
“We’re always looking at growing products that fit the taste profiles we’re after,” says Kniaziew. “In peppers, our core product, we’ve seen there’s room for growth in the category overall by growing peppers for every meal – in fajitas or stir-fry, scrambled eggs and as snacks.” Continue reading →