Canadian oats inspire new frozen dessert

By Jane Robinson

Ottawa – Candace Tierney came up with the idea for her frozen dessert over a bowl of oatmeal.

She eats it every day, and one morning she started to pay more attention to how creamy and thick the oats were. And she wondered about the possibility of creating an ice cream alternative from oats.

“I’m a lactose-intolerant ice cream lover, and that’s not a good combination,” said Tierney, founder and owner of Ottawa-based Oat & Mill food company.  “I started out playing with the idea of using oats as an alternate ingredient in ice cream. I was tired of eating products made from coconut, almond or soy, and wondered why there weren’t other options on the market.” Continue reading

Growing Forward 2 supports northern Ontario agriculture

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

By Lilian Schaer

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New Liskeard – There’s a world of difference between farming in northern and southern Ontario. The climate, soils, and available infrastructure in the north mean farmers have different innovation and research needs than their more southern neighbours.

The Agricultural Adaptation Council (AAC) recognizes the unique challenges and opportunities of northern Ontario farmers. Through Growing Forward 2 (GF2), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative, AAC has secured cost-share funds for five northern-focused innovation projects headed by the Northern Ontario Farm Innovation Alliance (NOFIA).

“There is a major difference not only between northern Ontario and rest of the province, but also between the regions of northern Ontario, which is geographically huge,” explains NOFIA Administrator Steph Vanthof. “This is one of the reasons it is so important to maintain agricultural research and innovation for the north.” Continue reading

A weatherman for every acre

Southwestern Ontario weather measurement system lets farmers use minute meteorological data

AGRIS employee Darren Clark setting up a weather station

By Matt McIntosh for AgInnovation Ontario

Farmers are notoriously keen meteorologists, but the weather information readily available to them isn’t always the most precise. That can be a bit nerve-wracking when your livelihood depends on conditions at the beanstalk level.

In an effort to make weather information more practical for individual farmers, AGRIS Cooperative Ltd., together with Wanstead Farmer’s Cooperative and Haggerty Creek Ltd. launched the AGGrower Daily Dashboard.

This lets them offer an up-to-the-minute rainfall and temperature data service using 80 automated and 200 manual weather stations.

Wirelessly connected and distributed at 10 kilometre intervals between Essex, Sarnia, Mount Brydges, and the northern shore of Lake Erie, the stations measure rainfall and temperature in their immediate area.

Gathered data is then fed back to a central database, which farmers can access through their computer or mobile device. The difference, though, is that those measurements can be taken by the metrerather than the kilometre. Continue reading

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