MORRISBURG — Known for scrumptious organic yogurt produced from their own dairy cattle via their own on-farm milk-processing plant, the Biemond family picked up a Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence in Morrisburg last night (Nov. 24).
Iroquois-based New Care Farms Inc. — owned by brothers Josh and Rudi Biemond and their wives Ellen and Jennifer — brought their $1.5-million processing facility on line last year. Built from scratch and branded as the “Upper Canada Creamery,” the 8,200 square-foot plant and retail store is located a stone’s throw from the barn housing the farm’s 35-head mixed-breed production herd at 11575 Waddell Rd., South Dundas.
Popping up on more and more retail shelves in Eastern Ontario and beyond, Upper Canada Creamery yogurt is renowned for its natural, tangy flavour — attributed to the extra-sweet milk resulting from the grass-fed diet of the cows at New Care Farms.
The cattle are milked in a rotary parlour efficiently assembled by the innovative Biemond brothers. Josh and Rudi are the sons of Dutch immigrants, Pieter and Marja Biemond, who started the farm in the early 1980s and embraced organic production methods.
This year, Upper Canada Creamery also began supplying pasteurized milk to nearby Upper Canada Village’s cheese factory, helping to keep that tourism attraction up and running when it ran into difficulty sourcing a milk supply.
The Biemond family operation was among several honoured this year at the Eastern Ontario regional awards ceremony — hosted at the McIntosh Country Inn — and one of 50 across the province. Recipients are 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.
Glengarry-Prescott-Russell MPP Grant Crack, parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, presided over the awards, which also went to: FarmLead.com, Funny Duck Farms, Oat & Mill Ltd., Scheuermann Vineyard & Winery, V6 Agronomy Inc., and Valley Bio Ltd.
“I am pleased to be a part of today’s celebrations and to have the honour of meeting the innovative recipients of the 2016 Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence. These are individuals who are helping Ontario’s agri-food sector succeed with projects that are benefitting not only their business and their local community, but Ontario as a whole,” said Crack.
Grain trading can now be done online thanks to FarmLead.com. This online tool allows buyers and sellers to deal directly with each other. As a result, sellers earn more profit and buyers enjoy lower prices. An independent certifying body tests the grain, so customers know exactly what they’re buying. Meanwhile, the 2,400 growers who are using the platform feel confident they’re dealing with legitimate buyers – FarmLead.com accredits each business and ensures they are assessed by a credit rating agency. Launched in 2014, the site now employs eight full-time staff and has facilitated $25 million in grain deals.
Funny Duck Farms, Jasper
Community shared agriculture (CSA) offers consumers fresh produce direct from the farm and gives farmers a guaranteed market. However, many CSAs experience high turnover because members want a more diverse selection, better control over volume or they simply forget to sign up for a new season. Funny Duck Farms has solved this problem by developing an online system that allows members to order exactly what they want 50 weeks of the year. By broadening their selection and teaming up with five other local producers including a baker, an artisanal cheese maker and a food co-op, Funny Duck Farms is able to support twice as many members and produce less waste.
Oat & Mill Ltd., Smiths Falls
Each week, Oat & Mill Ltd produces up to 300 litres of tasty frozen oat-based ice cream alternative in a variety of flavours like Peanut Butter Jelly Chocolate Chunk, Butter Pecan Cheesecake and Creamy Pumpkin Spice. Not surprisingly, they sell out every batch at farmers’ markets, local events and online. While many other alternatives to dairy-based ice cream rely on tropical ingredients like coconut, Oat & Mill uses Canadian-milled oats. In doing so, they’re creating a market for local growers and a healthier alternative for lactose-intolerant consumers.
Scheuermann Vineyard & Winery, Westport
Allison and Francois Scheuermann successfully harvested their first wine in 2014 from their vineyard in Westport, Ontario, 65 kilometres north of Kingston. Today they boast a selection that includes Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Vidal — not to mention bragging rights as Ontario’s most northerly vinifera vineyard. The addition of an open-grill restaurant has made the winery an agri-tourism destination within Leeds & Grenville County, where visitors can sip wine and sample local foods from a patio overlooking Sand Lake.
V6 Agronomy Inc., North Augusta
Effective fertilizer requires precise ratios. Liquid starter fertilizers should be heavy on nitrogen, for example, while certain soils may need a boost of potassium or other micronutrients. But the ratios in commercial mixes can become skewed as the components settle and separate during transportation and storage. Crop consultant Ryan Brophy set out to address that issue, working with factories to produce compound fertilizers that bind the primary, secondary and micronutrients together in the right proportions. A more consistent mix ensures nutrients are distributed evenly for optimum growth and vigour. The real proof comes at harvest time, when farms using V6 Agronomy products report increases of up to 20 per cent in yield over two seasons.
See details for Russell’s Christmas Parade below
Click on the above business cards to learn more about these community-minded enterprises and organizations.