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Province honours food innovators

Ontario’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs celebrated two County businesses among local innovators   contributing to the success of the province’s agri-food sector.

Regional recipients of the Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence were honoured at a ceremony in Colborne for their contributions to the creation of new products, adding value to existing products, helping support job creation, and building economic growth in Ontario.

Harwood Estate Vineyards, of Hillier and Pyramid Farm and Ferments, of Picton were among five award recipients in Hastings County, Muskoka District, Northumberland County and Prince Edward County.

Food-Kerry-Wicks-MPP-Lou-RinaldiHarwood is 100 per cent solar-powered, eliminating monthly energy bills that previously were up to $2,000.  In partnership with Ontario’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, the vineyard introduced experimental pest control strategies such as pheromone disruptors and cover crops. To conserve water supplies and ensure irrigation during dry periods, Harwood  installed a catchment system that harvests 85,000 litres of rainwater each year. Finally, the company only hires locally, supporting the local community and economy.

Alex Currie and Jenny Empey with MPP Lou Rinaldi

Alex Currie and Jenny Empey with MPP Lou Rinaldi

Innovative fermenting at Pyramid Farm and Ferments is what Alex Currie and Jenna Empey do as they revived the lost art of making sauerkraut, sauerruben and other fermented vegetables. Drawing on traditional Ukrainian recipes from the 1900s, the pair has successfully commercialized a lactobacillus-based fermentation process. No vinegar or chemicals required. Only cabbage, beets and other locally grown veggies go into their products. The result? Handcrafted products that the LCBO Food and Drink magazine calls “winter must-haves.” Currie and Empey have doubled their income between 2012 and 2013. To keep up with booming demand, they are now planning new fermentation tanks to expand their production capacity eight fold.

There were 50 regional agri-food innovation awards being announced across the province. Since 2007, a total of 375 producers, processors and agri-food organizations received a Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence.

“I am so proud of today’s award recipients. It is through their ideas, creativity, dedication and hard work that we are helping ensure that Ontario remains a world leader in the agri-food sector.”
said Lou Rinaldi, MPP for MPP for Northumberland-Quinte West when he presented their plaques.

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