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Three County businesses earn agri-food awards

Three Prince Edward County businesses were honoured Wednesday morning for their contributions to innovation in the agri-food industry.

Recipients “whose ideas and passion strengthen their businesses, grow the province’s agri-food sector, boost the economy and create jobs” were honoured at an award ceremony at Loyalist College.

Hosted Lou Rinaldi, MPP for Northumberland-Quinte West said the recipients were recognized for their contributions to boosting economic growth in Ontario by creating new products that help to support job creation, add value to existing products and support a sustainable environment.

The award recipients, Prince Edward County, Lennox and Addington and Northumberland are:

Honey Pie Hives & Herbals, based in Milford
Pyramid Ferments, based in Picton
U-Pac Agri-Service, based in Picton
First Ontario Shrimp Ltd., based in Campbellford
MacKinnon Brothers Brewing Co., based in Bath

Honey Pie Hives & Herbals: Innovation has helped Honey Pie Hives and Herbals, a Prince Edward County operation, keep buzzing with Bay Woodyard and Gavin North selling their honey and transforming their wax into candles and lotions, making sure nothing goes to waste. They also extract value from the water used to rinse the honey-covered wax uncappings that are a byproduct of honey extraction. Instead of simply tossing this water, the duo ferment it to produce mead, an ancient type of wine. As the first meadery in Eastern Ontario, Honey Pie attracts a steady stream of visitors.

Pyramid Ferments: Jenna Empey and Alex Currie began offering Gut Shots of 300 millilitres of probiotic-rich tonic that punches up the levels of healthy bacteria in the digestive system. The product proved so popular at farmers’ markets that Empey and Currie are now marketing to retail outlets and discussing partnerships with juice companies. The tonic is simply the brine left over from their main activity: producing kimchi, sauerkraut and other fermented foods. This former waste product accounted for 13 per cent of their sales in 2015, and they expect that number to double in 2016.

U-Pac Agri-Service: Across Ontario’s countryside, white plastic wrap encases bales of hay. The wrap is practical, keeping bales dry, but packaging it for recycling at the end of the season is cumbersome. And while commercial compactors are available, they can often be expensive. So Lynn Douglas Leavitt built a rugged wooden “basket,” into which used bale wrap is loaded. It’s then tamped into a compact package by a custom-made wooden compacter attached to a front-end loader. Tie the bale with string and it’s ready for pickup by a recycling company. The portable $600 system helps farmers make their operations more sustainable.

First Ontario Shrimp Ltd: The Cocchio family farm set out to become Ontario’s first shrimp producers. The family secured an aquaculture licence, installed 16 saltwater tanks in a converted hog barn and worked with Canadian Food Inspection Agency to import feed and shrimp larvae. With their closed loop system, the Cocchios can produce 136 kilograms of Pacific white shrimp a week.

MacKinnon Brothers Brewing Co: On their 232-year-old family farm, Daniel and Ivan MacKinnon are taking local to a new level. In response to demand for locally produced beer, the two brothers converted a century barn into a brewing facility. Today, the operation produces beet-infused ales, German wheat beers and wild peppermint stouts, all made with their own hops, wheat and malting barley. To their knowledge, no other commercial brewery in Canada grows the majority of their ingredients right on site.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Premier’s Awards for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence, established to recognize and foster agri-food innovation across the province.

In 2016, 50 award recipients are to be recognized, including the top Premier’s Award, Minister’s Award, and three Leaders in Innovation award winners.
All 50 award recipients are also eligible for the Premier’s Award, Minister’s Award and three Leaders in Innovation awards, to be announced in early December.

Filed Under: Local News

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