Five people and organizations won Excellence in Agriculture honours
By Diego Flammini
The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) honoured five industry leaders to kick off Ontario Agriculture Week.
Ernie Hardeman, the provincial ag minister, announced the recipients of the 2020 Excellence in Agriculture awards on Monday at Burnbrae Farms in Norwich, Ont.
The minister presented representatives of Burnbrae, whose solar-powered egg farm registers as the largest of its kind in Canada, its award in the primary producer category.
Burnbrae and other industry stakeholders are instrumental in keeping Ontario families fed. This fact underscored by the extraordinary efforts to overcome the challenges posed by COVID-19, Hardeman said.
“Over the past six months of the pandemic, Ontario’s farmers and food processors worked tirelessly to keep food on our kitchen tables,” Hardeman said in an Oct. 5 statement. “During Ontario Agriculture Week, we are taking the opportunity to recognize our hard-working agriculture sector for its Ontario spirit, innovation and contribution to our economy and our way of life.”
Green Table Foods Inc., a Guelph-based food company specializing in plant-based fermented food, won its award in the processor category.
Receiving the award is affirmation that others recognize the importance of the work the company does, said Shannel Noseworthy. She’s the director of operations with Green Table Foods Inc.
“It truly was an honour and it’s always great to be recognized for the effort we put in,” she told Farms.com. “It solidifies all of the hard work we put into our products and helps grow our family-run business into something a little bigger.”
The company currently has 12 “living” products like kimchi, sauerkraut and mustard available at major retailers and health food stores across Canada.
Green Table’s fermenting process helps set it apart from other food companies, Noseworthy said.
“We say it’s living because our produce isn’t cooked beforehand and we don’t use vinegar to pickle our products. So they remain very nutrient dense,” she said.
The company uses lacto-fermentation to create its products.
The vegetables are submerged in a brine salty enough to kill harmful bacteria. Good bacteria can survive this process.
During the fermentation process, organisms convert lactose and other sugars in the food into lactic acid, which helps preserve the vegetables.
Green Table sources its vegetables from local farmers.
The company shares the award with its suppliers, Noseworthy said.
“We have a great relationship with our farmers and, really, it’s because of them that we can do what we do,” she said. “We may have received the award, but the farmers deserve credit too.”
Transport Genie Ltd. from Burlington, Ont. won in the agri-food innovator category for its animal transport system. It monitors micro-climate conditions of livestock moving from a farm to the next location.
Foodshare Toronto received an award in the agri-food organization category for helping people access fruit and vegetables produced by Black, Indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC) communities.
And Austin Bruch, a research assistant at the University of Guelph, won in the youth (under 29) category for developing a corn cross-breeding program to help reduce crop failure and increase the quality of corn Canadians consume.
The Ontario government launched the awards in 2018 to recognize innovation throughout the industry.