Retail Navigator columnist Peter Chapman analyzes how consumer values and habits have changed during the pandemic. And he predicts what’s in store for the New Year. 

Annual meeting season is different this year with only virtual connections. But Bill George, chair, Ontario Fruit & Vegetable Growers’ Association, urges members to call in and speak up.

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Bob Tosh with MNP shares insight on transitioning wealth

Karen Davidson, editor of The Grower, talked to Bob Tosh, MNP, to find out how this accounting company offers more than tax planning and accounting.

John Ketler shares the hard truths of a greenhouse shutdown

The Grower, goes 'Behind the Scenes' of the December cover story titled Hardest Harvest and speaks with John Ketler, vice-president, Nature Fresh Farms.

An easier way to manage paperwork for temporary foreign workers

Software developer Cliffe Hodgkinson has finetuned a web-based program called FarmHR that eases the load of record-keeping for temporary foreign workers.

Travis Cranmer describes a new interactive platform for technology transfer

Travis Cranmer, Ontario vegetable crop specialist, OMAFRA, describes Slido.com, a question-and-answer polling platform that allows participants to see photos and slides on technical subjects.

Joe Pillitteri: an equipment dealer steers through the COVID-19 crisis

Joe Pillitteri, owner of Lakeview Vineyard Equipment shares the roller-coaster of managing his Ontario company through a pandemic that’s resulted in cancelled field days and trade shows. 

Events by invitation-only became the norm in 2020 as the pandemic curbed in-person contact. The impacts of COVID-19 on research, new product launches and extension efforts will be felt for years to come. 

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Pressure testing your financial health

John Molenhuis, business analysis and cost-of-production specialist for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) worked with the grape, tender fruit and apple groups for years, updating baseline measurements every five years that compare the average of the group to the top 25. 

Hardest harvest reveals hard truths and even harder questions

Dejected workers gather to tear down the brittle leaves of a cucumber crop that perished after Nature Fresh Farms was shut down by public health authorities on June 30, 2020. In a recent short documentary, the story is told how 199 asymptomatic workers tested positive for COVID-19 but no one was ever hospitalized. The devastating effects of losing 7.8 million pounds of produce aren’t just economic but emotional as guest workers have testified. 

Growing live, virtually

Meetups are increasingly scarce. That’s why technology transfer is challenged in the age of COVID-19. Ontario vegetable crop specialist, Travis Cranmer and his colleagues are using new platforms to reach garlic growers Ian and Nathan Teetzel near Exeter, Ontario.

Grape expectations: up and down

After 45 years of farming, it’s safe to say 2020 has been a year like no other for Ernie Wiens. Due to scant rainfall and high temperatures, grape tonnage volumes are expected to be down by 20 per cent. He’s poised to take a brix test of Chardonnay grapes, one of many varieties grown at the family’s 400 acres of vineyards near Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.

How robots will give a hand to food security

The repetitive task of crop scouting in greenhouses is being replaced by an automated system with artificial intelligence which can detect pests and disease in real time. This bleeding-edge technology is not for everyone. But it’s a new consideration for Jake Neufeld who manages a labour-intensive crop of high-wire cucumbers near Leamington, Ontario. 

The American Blueberry Growers Alliance has been established to seek relief from rising imports. While Peru and Mexico are said to be the main irritants, Canada is also caught up in the International Trade Commission investigation.  

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Pharr International Bridge to expand

The crossing between Reynosa, Mexico and Pharr, Texas is expanding to accommodate $35 billion in trade and more in the years to come. It’s the number one crossing in the U.S for produce. More than 10 per cent of the crossings are in high-value berries.

International blueberry coalition formed

In a new twist, some of America’s largest blueberry growers are insisting that there is no injury to the industry when most imports arrive outside the domestic growing season of late April to early September. The coalition went public a week before the U.S. International Trade Commission looks at the case on January 12.

American farmers may get paid to plant cover crops

The U.S. president-elect has nominated former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack to become agriculture secretary. His approach to climate change will be watched closely in rural America. 

International Year of Fruits and Vegetables launches Dec 15

Conceived pre-pandemic, the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables is more relevant than ever. The UN’s focus will be on health benefits as well as preventing food waste. 

International Cool Climate Wine Symposium delayed to 2022

As the pandemic continues and travel restrictions remain, the organizers at Brock’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute have postponed this event until July 17-21, 2022.

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FEATURES

  • Ontario welcomes tree fruit specialist

    Erika DeBrouwer has joined the horticulture crops unit, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. She will be based in Simcoe.

  • Robert Van Der Geest
    Nature Fresh Farms hires manager for Mexican greenhouse

    Robert Van Der Geest becomes general manager for Nature Fresh Farms Mexico  leading operations of a 15-acre pepper greenhouse in the central region of the country. Another 15 acres are under construction. 

  • Leonard Pennachetti named to Order of Canada

    The president and co-founder of Cave Spring Cellars has been named to the Order of Canada, capping a lifetime of achievements in the wine and hospitality industry of the Niagara Peninsula.  

  • CanAgPlus elects board

    The annual general meeting of CanAgPlus, the not-for-profit corporation that owns and operates the CanadaGAP Program, has elected two new and two returning directors. This is the oversight board for food safety. 

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Longos tops in customer experience

Leger’s 10th annual WOW index ranks Longo’s, the family-owned retailer as number one in customer experience, followed by Whole Foods, Farm Boy, Fortinos and Zehrs. The research ranks Ontario grocers on factors such as products, service and quality. 

BC-sponsored quarantine program for TFWs continues

The British Columbia government spent $15 million in 2020 protecting temporary foreign workers in its quarantine program. Having workers self-isolate before going to farms was a successful strategy in preventing further transmission of COVID-19. 

Ontario workplace inspections underway

Growers employing temporary foreign workers are encouraged to sign up for a February 3 webinar organized by Workplace Safety and Prevention Services.

Grocers under the lens

Fair trade? Michael Graydon, CEO, Food, Health and Consumer Products of Canada, presents a January 28 webinar on the effects of Canadian grocers shifting costs disproportionately to food manufacturers and farmers.

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