As part of Ontario Agriculture Week, we wanted to highlight some of the past Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence winners, who contribute to the success of the Ontario’s Agri-Food sector. The Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence Program recognizes innovation that creates new products, improves existing products, helps in the creation of new jobs and ultimately strengthens economic growth in Ontario. In 2014, 50 award recipients from across the province were recognized.
Kaley’s Acres – Northumberland County (2014 Premier’s Award Winner)
Kale, a once overlooked and obscure vegetable, now finds itself in the head of the spotlight as a superfood and popular choice of many health conscious eaters. Draupadi and Adrian Quinn started their journey in 2009 to produce a new-age healthy snack, based solely on kale, starting right from the seed. Their product ‘Kale Chips’ embodies a rich, tasty, nutrient-packed snack that anyone can enjoy, not just the wildly healthy. The Quinn’s started their journey by converting 10 acres of former tobacco field into kale production and now boasts an environment friendly production with a processing facility of over 5000-square-feet. To stay on top of demand, the Quinns plan on distributing all over the world to the U.S., Europe, Australia and the Middle East. Their plans include opening an even bigger facility down the street. Talk about innovation!
A Driedger Farms Inc. – Essex County (2014 Minister’s Award Winner)
These innovative tomato farmers developed a self-propelled machine designed to eliminate the problem of their tomatoes squishing during harvest. Through their hard work and innovation they were able to significantly increase their productivity and efficiency. Even better, their innovation can potentially have applications for cucumber and other field harvested vegetables. Extending their equipment across Ontario could give farmer’s a competitive edge in the industry and softer touch on the field.
Announcements on the 2015 winners are coming soon. To learn more about the Agri-Food Innovation Excellence Awards go to: ontario.ca/agrifoodinnovation.