Last week, we had the pleasure of celebrating the newest crop of winners of the Premier’s Agri-food Awards. This year was a particularly momentous year for the victors because it was also the 10th edition of the esteemed awards.
When we think about what it means to be ‘innovative’ in food and agriculture, we’re blown away by the possibilities. The 2016 winners have truly broken through scientific, environmental and engineering barriers and moved the sector forward in ways we couldn’t imagine.
Minister’s Award Winner
The Cocchio Family took home the Minister’s Award for engineering and opening Ontario First Shrimp Farm. Yes, you read that right. They converted a hog barn into an indoor, inland, closed-loop, shrimp growing facility. They raise 136kg of fresh, pacific white shrimp for restaurants each week.
Premier’s Award Winner
Dairy Quality Inc. took home honours for a creating a low-cost, hand-held device that attaches to your iPhone and then, using microscope technology, is able to detect and measure somatic cell counts in milk. This means that farmers’ can detect and combat mastitis in their herd early and on the spot. What does this mean? Simple. Happier cows; better, safer milk.
Leaders in Innovation Awards
The Asparagus Farmers of Ontario is the first organization representing growers to develop its own seed business. That means they’re able to develop new varieties that work better in our local environment — and have a unique stream of income available to them making it easier to promote fresh, Ontario grown asparagus.
One of the coolest companies on the list year, Evynn’s Advantage takes whole, locally-grown vegetables and grains, then turns them into ‘real food from tubes’. That means that people who require a liquid diet or gastro tube, can have access to whole, nutritious food not made from syrups or heavily processed synthetic ingredients.
And last but not least, the Vineland Growers Co-operative has made grown pears more accessible to Canadians. The ‘Cold Snap’ pear is blight-resistant, firmer, larger and sweeter. Coupled with atmosphere-controlled storage, the new variety can be kept well into the winter months.
Congratulations to all the winners! Thank you for inspiring to do better, work smarter and push Ontario further, every day.