Five regional winners have received 2013 Premier's Awards for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence. The awards are given out annually to recognize contributions to the success of Ontario's agri-food sector.
Northern Ontario's winners include Thompson's Maple Products of Hilton Beach (outside Sault Ste. Marie), which produces maple syrup products from a sugar bush with 20,000 trees. Owner Doug Thompson developed a wireless remote monitoring system that reports the status of each line to his computer or smartphone every few minutes. The new system has increased Thompson's income, boosted production and reduced the number of staff repairing lines from five to two.
The Manitoulin Streams Improvement Association, based in Mani-towaning on Manitoulin Island, was lauded for its work on waterway protection. Since 2001, the organization has worked with landowners, businesses, schools and governments to restore coldwater streams on the Island that have been impacted by farming. Work includes planting 23,887 trees to reduce erosion, installing more than 3,000 metres of fencing to prevent livestock from contaminating water, decommissioning two dams and setting up livestock watering systems.
Boreal Berry Farm & Winery of Warren outside Sudbury was recognized for its work bringing the haskap berry to the North. Owners Greg and Mira Melien have cultivated the berry--a cold-weather variety that's a cross between a blueberry and raspberry--on 20...