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Good Things Grow in Ontario!

Sue smiling and holding two strawberries as earrings in strawberry field

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I was a kid, I remember singing the tune ‘Good things grow in Ontario!’ And that lyric still holds true today.

I was recently invited by Farm Food Care Ontario to attend a farm tour in beautiful Norfolk County where we had the chance to learn more about food and agriculture!

First stop: Strawberry Tyme Farms

Dalton and John Cooper standing in a high tunnel strawberry field

Meet Dalton Cooper, a 4th generation berry farmer and his dad John. Originally an apple farm since 1939, the family now grows berries using innovative varieties and growing techniques. Traditionally, strawberries harvest in June but a new ‘day-neutral’ strawberry fruits for 5-6 months, extending the typical strawberry season from June / July well into October.

John gave us a little strawberry physiology lesson to understand how this works. ‘June strawberries’ are named as such because they fruit in June. These berries are planted in the Fall when the days are short, and bear fruit in June when the days are long. On the other hand, ‘day-neutral’ strawberries are an annual variety planted in the spring with berries ready to pick about 12 weeks later. The berries continue fruiting regardless of the length of the day, which is why they’re called ‘day-neutral’!

The strawberries are grown on table tops in high tunnels which protect the berries from damaging heavy rains and maintains a moderate temperature. Not to mention, it’s much easier to pick these berries! The Cooper family also grows long cane raspberries, a growing technique where the berries are grown in pots and produce fruit in their second year.

Fun facts: There are 675 farms across Ontario which grow strawberries. Ontario growers produce between 6,000-7,000 tonnes of strawberries each year!

 

Next stop: Suncrest Orchards

Farmers Amanda and Hayden with their family of Jamaican workers

Image: Facebook Suncrest Orchards

Farmers Amanda and Hayden Dooney have owned the Suncrest Orchards since 2019 and work with a wonderful Jamaican family of eight employees including Raymond and George.  They’re seasonal agricultural workers who come up to the farm as early as March and stay until the end of October or longer. The farm grows and harvests seven different varieties of apples: Paula Red, Ginger Gold, Sunrise, Golden Delicious, Honey Crisp, Royal Gala and Ambrosia.

Red gala apples growing on a bush

At lunch, we had the wonderful opportunity to chat with some of the workers. Amanda says, “We have huge respect and appreciation for the sacrifice they make to come up and help with our orchard.”  Livian, (pictured front left below), for example, has worked seasonally on farms for 25 years and is proud to have supported his four kids through university. Indeed, let’s all give our thanks to the amazing farmers and seasonal agricultural workers who work so hard to grow delicious and nutritious food!

Are you hosting an educational tour? Contact me to cover the event and share highlights!

This event was sponsored travel and this blog reflects my own learning experiences. Thanks to the event sponsors for hosting a truly inspiring and heart-warming event: Farm and Food Care OntarioGreenBeltMore than a Migrant WorkerOntario Apple GrowersOntario Berries and the Ontario Produce Marketing Association.

 

Webinar Replay – Food and Nutrition Trends

a glass of orange juice beside a white mug and a plate of fresh fruit

Join Sue Mah and Jo-Ann McArthur President at Nourish Food Marketing, as they reveal the top 6 food and nutrition trends that are driving consumers’ food decisions.

* Discover how the last year has changed consumers’ relationship to health, food and beverage
* Take away tips / tools that are relevant to you, your clients and your business

Watch the recording here!

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