Jul 01, 2009 04:30 AM


The city has backed down and will now allow farmers’ markets to go ahead at civic squares.

The farmers are allowed back at Metro Hall tomorrow and Nathan Phillips Square next Wednesday, after being shut out since the city workers’ strike began June 22.

“We’re thrilled,” said Cathy Bartolic, executive director of the Ontario Farm Fresh Marketing Association. “It’s huge.”

Over the past week, the city had offered a litany of reasons – from the need for public health inspectors to electrical hookups – why the markets had to be cancelled.

But Milton-area strawberry grower Bert Andrews didn’t buy any of them. Andrews argued the vendors could get by without electrical hookups and were willing to clean up afterward.

He said it was unfair of the city to bar the produce vendors while letting a jazz festival use Nathan Phillips Square over the past week, as well as the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition on July 10-12.

“We’re managing our own waste. We’re renting our own porta-potties and dumpsters,” said Kelly Rintoul, executive director of the art exhibition. The event expects to attract 100,000 visitors over the three days, she said.

The farmers’ pleas for similar consideration had gone nowhere until yesterday, when city manager Joe Pennachetti disclosed that the city had relented.

After discussions with organizers, the city announced that six markets would be permitted on city squares:

  • City Hall: Wednesdays starting July 8
  • Metro Hall: Thursdays starting tomorrow Etobicoke Civic Centre: Saturdays starting July 4
  • East York Civic Centre: Tuesdays starting July 7
  • Scarborough Civic Centre: Tuesdays starting July 7
  • North York Civic Centre: Thursdays starting tomorrow

The markets will operate on a reduced level, with no city support, and farmers will need to bring their own tables and be responsible for cleaning up.

Posted by: ShawnC | July 2, 2009

FAMU program aids area farms

Edgar Roberts’ blue eyes and blonde hair seemed to shine in the sun filtering through the trees around Lake Ella. His smile greeted everyone who walked by his booth.

Roberts, 20, was surrounded by three of his siblings. They sat behind the family sign, Pasco Farms.

A small group of Roberts’ large clan, including 11 brothers and sisters, came from the family farm in Thomasville, Ga., to the growers’ market, which is open on Wednesdays from 3 p.m. to dusk. The Roberts family, like many others who come to the market, hope to sell naturally grown produce or other wares at a site used by Florida A&M University as part of its Small Farm Program.

FAMU’s Jennifer Taylor organizes the program. She said it’s designed to assist and equip small farm populations, farm workers and their families. Taylor said the program’s goal is to assist farmers and urban farmers with organic methods. The program offers farmers access to “knowledge about sustainable agriculture production and management systems.”

FAMU students and faculty at the College of Engineering Sciences, Technology and Agriculture (CESTA) are also provided with a hands-on learning environment.

“These are the actual people growing your food,” Taylor said. “It’s a participatory market that we developed with farmers.”

No fees are required for vendors at the markets, farmers workshops, marketing strategies and other sessions. CESTA students, however, can take advantage of “new kinds of learning opportunities in terms of outdoor and indoor laboratory experiences and resources.”

The community gets to take advantage a growers’ market complete with cooking classes, fresh bakery and herbal soaps and lotions.

“I fit at a growers’ market,” said Dolly Fields, who sells herbal soaps and lotions made out of pure vegetable oils.

Fields said not a lot of vendors who make crafts can say they fit in at growers’ markets like the ones FAMU oversees.

Lesa and Bob Burnham of Sycamore Gardens also participate in the markets.

“The people who come here appreciate freshness — people who like the friendly community atmosphere,” Lesa Burnham said.

As she spoke, cooking demonstrations were conducted with clams on the grill. Flowers of every hue and size filled large white buckets.

“We try to have an integrated kind of learning experience for the community as well as the farming population,” Taylor said.

Posted by: ShawnC | July 2, 2009

OSU Gears Up for Farm Science Review

Ag industry has positive outlook as managers ready for farm show Sept. 22-24.

Published: Jul 2, 2009

Farm Science Review, Ohio State University’s annual farm show, has been described as a potpourri of the latest and greatest in the agriculture industry.

“Nearly whatever service or product a farmer needs can be found at Farm Science Review,” says Farm Science Review manager Chuck Gamble.

Indeed, attendees to this year’s show will be able to peruse the latest in agricultural equipment, services and products — over 4,000 product lines from 600-plus commercial exhibitors; view three days worth of field demonstrations spread across 600 acres of farmland; and take advantage of Ohio State University agricultural research, education and expertise in agriculture, economics, health and nutrition, conservation and horticulture.

The 47 annual Farm Science Review will be held Sept. 22-24 at the Molly Caren Agricultural Center in London, Ohio. This year’s theme, “Your 2009 Bale Out,” (with a bit of word play) is intended to emphasize the resources available at the show to help farmers strengthen their business.

“We are providing the resources to ensure a profitable bottom line. From preparation to planting to harvesting, farmers have the ability to gain the knowledge they need at the Review,” says Farm Science Review assistant manager Matt Sullivan. “We make all of it available to farmers. It’s up to them to take that information and make choices that will provide them the most profitable farming operation.”

Not only does Farm Science Review provide equipment, technology, products and services essentially under one roof, the show is unique in that it incorporates the education, research and expertise of a major land-grant university.

“Having the Ohio State University affiliation is huge,” says Gamble. “That education component is valued and emulated at other farm shows.”

Farm Science Review may be a few months off, but exhibit space is nearly sold out, with over 90 percent of space already full. Gamble said the quick sell-out points to the optimistic attitude being taken in the agriculture industry, despite the downturn in the economy.

“Other farm shows this year have been witness to a positive attitude in agriculture, and we hope that upbeat optimism carries over to Farm Science Review,” says Gamble. “Farmers are approaching this year’s show with guarded optimism, but they are still in the market for products and services that will give them a leg up in the industry.”

Agricultural companies continue to invest in Farm Science Review with more buildings becoming permanent fixtures on the grounds, indicative of their confidence that Farm Science Review makes a solid contribution to the industry each year, according to Gamble.

Posted by: ShawnC | July 2, 2009

New York inches closer to offshore wind farm

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Government agencies and power companies said on Wednesday they are gauging interest from developers and manufacturers about building a wind farm about 13 miles off the New York city coast that could end up being the largest such project in the United States.

The Long Island Power Authority, the New York Power Authority, other agencies and Consolidated Edison Inc hope to build the 350 megawatt wind farm off the Rockaway Peninsula in the Atlantic.

Potentially, the project could be expanded to 700 MW, giving it a shot of being the biggest U.S. offshore wind farm. One megawatt powers about 1,000 homes in New York, but wind does not blow all of the time.

Taking stock of the interest of developers is a precursor to issuing a request for proposal for the project which is anticipated for release by the end of the year, the collaboration said.

“There clearly is growing interest in this proposal by many parties,” Kevin Burke, chairman and CEO of Con Edison, said in a release.

“If the technical, environmental, economic and social challenges can be met, and we have the support of government, energy and environmental leaders, I am confident this project will be built and produce enormous benefits for our region,” he said.

The group did not offer a price estimate for the project, but according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, a work that size would cost about $1.35 billion to $2.7 billion.

Also on Wednesday, New York’s state power authority said it had selected five firms to study the possibility of building an offshore wind farm on Lake Erie and Lake Ontario in western New York.

Such projects are consistent with New York Gov. David Paterson’s “45 by 15” program, which establishes the goal for the state to meet 45 percent of its electricity needs through energy efficiency and renewable sources by 2015.

The Rockaway project would not be the first time a large wind farm was planned in the region.

The LIPA proposed the construction of a 40-turbine wind farm that would have produced 140 MW of energy off the shore of Jones Beach on the south shore of Long Island. The project was canceled in 2007 after estimates it would cost $800 million, more than double the initial estimate.

(Reporting by Timothy Gardner and Scott Disavino; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

Posted by: ShawnC | July 2, 2009

Support Your Local Farmers’ Market

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009 – 05:31:00

Written by Mike Brown, MPP

Agriculture is an important part of the fabric of the riding of Algoma-Manitoulin. It employs many, and feeds even more. This is why it is so important that we support our local farmers’ markets.

We are blessed with a number of farmers’ markets. It is always a treat to take in the atmosphere, the sights, the sounds and the smells of these important community events, and I would encourage those who have not been to one to get out and take part. The markets are a great place to find fresh fruits, vegetables and other mouth-watering items, all of which are locally produced. In this way, you are not only filling your pantry with the groceries that you require, but you are also supporting your local farmers’ market, which helps to create jobs and promote consumer spending within your own community.

It may surprise some to learn that farmers’ markets have a significant economic impact upon Ontario’s rural economy, generating close to $2 billion annually. Over 27,000 people in Ontario are directly involved in preparing and selling products at farmers’ markets. With annual sales of more than $645 million, farmers’ markets provide an important economic link between local food suppliers, small processors and consumers.

Over the last several years, farmers’ markets have continued to grow at a rate of more than five percent a year. It is a growing trend that, with your support, will continue. And by contributing to the success of your local farmers’ market, you are helping to ensure the continued prosperity of your friends and neighbours.

As important as farmers’ markets are to the local community, they also serve a social purpose. They help to build a strong sense of community, as frequent visitors get to know their neighbours. Quite often, it is a good place to catch up on the local news in a small community. Farmers’ markets are also a great for learning purposes. Not only can you purchase product, but you can speak to the producer directly to learn more about their methods.

These are just some of the reasons that more and more people are taking the time to visit their local farmers’ market. Give it a try some time.

In honor of Canada Day we bring you news from just outside the Canadian capital, where a suburban service station has become the first in the world to sell a blend of gasoline and cellulosic ethanol biofuel.

As part of a month long trial, drivers who fill up their Nissan X-Trails or Acura CSXs at a Shell station in the Ottawa suburb of Nepean have the choice of “CE-10″ blend — a mixture of 90 percent gasoline and 10 percent cellulosic ethanol from Ottawa-based Iogen’s nearby demonstration plant. If the test goes well, Iogen hopes to have a full-scale plant running in Saskatchewan within the next few years.

Before you dredge up the usual complaints about biofuel, be forewarned: this ain’t just any old ethanol. This is the so-called “second generation” ethanol that until now was never available to consumers.

The CE-10 in Ottawa was produced from an agricultural residue that otherwise would have been discarded. Unlike ethanol produced from corn or sugar, nobody’s converting a potential food source into fuel. Even better, there aren’t any of those pesky nitrous oxide emissions associated with the production of other biofuels, and Iogen estimates that lifecycle CO2 emissions of cellulosic ethanol are 90 percent less than gasoline with no decrease in power or fuel economy.

What’s not to love? Well, the fuel isn’t yet ready for full-scale commercial production, but Iogen is hoping the demonstration project will change that. “Building a demo plant is one thing but you then need to go through the process of operating the new technology at scale, learning, modifying and lowering costs,” Iogen CEO Brian Foody said in a statement (PDF). “With the volumes we’re producing today, we’re confident about the future.”

We’re pretty confident, too. We were in the area last week and decided to be part of biofuel history by filling up at this very station. Our mileage didn’t decrease, our car didn’t explode and our wallets didn’t get any lighter — though we did get some funny looks from the other folks filling up when we started taking pictures of a gas pump.

Posted by: ShawnC | July 2, 2009

A new chapter in Canada for Essa dairy farmers


BY KURTIS ELSNER, STAFF July 01, 2009 21:07

Dairy farming is a long family tradition for the Broekhuizens. The most recent chapter is unfolding in Essa township. About eight years ago, the Broekhuizens moved to Canada from their home in the Netherlands.

Originally running a dairy farm in Europe, the Broekhuizens left because expanding cities were putting increased strain on farmland.

“We’ve been a dairy family for generations and our son and daughter were interested (in farming),” said Henk Broekhuizen.

With increased urbanization putting the future of their operation in the Netherlands in question, the family began looking abroad for a new farm. They searched in France, Germany, Eastern Europe and Africa, finally deciding on Canada.

Along with his wife, Toby, and two of his adult children, daughter Carolien and son Roelof, Henk Broekhuizen relocated to a farm on the 5th Sideroad of Essa, at the corner of the 3rd Line.

The concept of a family farm is an important one for the Broekhuizens and it reflects in their operation. Along with a few hired employees, the four family members work strongly together as a team. Henk handles the feeding, Roelof works with the machinery and computers, Carolien manages the health and breeding of the herd and Toby handles some of the feeding, as well as the bookkeeping.

The Broekhuizens also have other full and part-time staff working on the farm.

In total, the family has a herd of about 500 head of cattle at any given time. Normally about 250 of them are full-grown cows, with about 220 in the milk production cycle.

A heifer is impregnated for the first time when she is about 15 months old. The gestation period is nine months, and the cow enters the milk production cycle about two months after giving birth to her first calf. After the birth of calfs, the cows are given a two-month break, before being rebred. The cows continue to produce milk through their subsequent pregnancies. With two months remaining before birth, the cows are pulled out of the production cycle so energy can be focused on the unborn calf.

The average lifespan for a dairy cow in Canada is about four years, said Carolien, although the oldest one at the Broekhuizen farm is 11 years old. In Europe, the average production time can be a little longer, because the climate isn’t as hard on the cows, she said.

Work on Broekhuizen never stops. The cows must be milked twice a day – morning and evening – seven days a week. Between milkings there is feeding and caring for the animals and harvesting hay and alfalfa off of the 700 acres of farmland used to produce enough food for the animals to last the year.

There is also the cleaning and maintenance of a lot of the high-tech equipment used for dairy farming. Radio chips implanted in calves when they are young monitor and measure how much food an automated dispenser doles out. Once the animal enters milk production, that same chip allows computers to monitor how much milk is produced each day.

On average, one cow will produce between 30 to 40 litres each day.

An automated system milks up to 20 cows at a time, with the entire herd taking two to three hours to be milked.

While there are some similarities between dairy farming in Canada and the Netherlands, Broekhuizen said many things are different and it took a lot of getting used to.

“The climate, the cows, the people, the land,” he said. “You have to start from the beginning when you start here.”

One thing the Broekhuizens really like about dairy farming in Ontario is the distribution system. Every two days, a truck from the Dairy Farmers of Ontario (DFO) arrives at the Essa farm and hauls the milk away. From that point on, the milk is out of the hands of the farmers to be distributed to processors. In the Netherlands, farmers are responsible for marketing themselves.

Along with distribution, the DFO also monitors quality control with inspections and sample tests, something that is very important to Broekhuizen.

“As dairy farmers, we want to have a nice, clean product in the shops,” he said.

The Broekhuizen’s experiences in the Netherlands have taught them how important it is that there be an open dialogue between the farming community and people living in towns and cities. To that end, they frequently have school groups, Guides or other people in to learn what dairy farming is all about.

Last week, a group of medical students from the University of Toronto was at the farm to learn about agriculture. By expanding those partnerships, they’re hope is that dairy farming continues to be a long-time family tradition.

Posted by: ShawnC | July 2, 2009

Ontario can’t afford to lose its pork producers

Dear Editor – I am a pig farmer. I come from a family of pig farmers who have worked our whole lives to provide safe and healthy food for people in Ontario.

But my industry is sinking, and I want to tell you what that means.

Our farm, one of 2,800 pig farms in Ontario, is slightly smaller than the provincial average, and by global standards we are tiny. Yet, my family produces enough food to supply pork for almost 30,000 Ontarians every year. We contribute almost $800,000 into the local economy, and Ontario’s pig farmers are part of a $4.7-billion industry.

But this is about more than the numbers. Today, we are in a tailspin. Financial hardships have devastated pig farmers over the past three years; culminating with the problems related to the H1N1 virus. Misconceptions about the safety of pork and the inappropriate name “swine flu” have done untold damage to pork producers, and we are in grave danger of seeing farm families disappear because of the H1N1 crisis.

Here’s what it means if we go out of business:

If Ontarians cannot purchase pork produced in this province, they will be forced to consume a product that’s spent days on a truck while burning countless litres of diesel fuel on its way to market. Much of the imported pork will travel more than 1,000 kilometres before ending up in your local grocery store.

More family farms will disappear. The Ontario hog industry is dominated by small family farms such as mine, while many regions that currently ship pork into Ontario are controlled by large corporations.

Many rural communities will become more fragile. Southwestern Ontario is dotted with small towns that rely on agriculture to keep local businesses alive. The loss of local pig farms goes beyond simple economics; children from pig farms fill rural schools and join local sports teams, making farm families an integral piece of small-town Ontario.

It’s hard to describe in words my passion for farming. I get to wake up every morning and produce food for people. I love caring for animals and it is my hope that I can protect the environment around my farm for generations to come.

Ontarians can help preserve farms like mine by renewing their dedication to purchasing local pork. By doing so you are helping a group of individuals who produce pork that is among the safest and healthiest in the world.

Stewart Skinner, Listowel

TORONTO – The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is warning the public not to consume certain beef products, since they may be contaminated with E. coli.

President’s Choice brand beef products including ground beef, steaks, and roasts have been recalled across Canada.

They bear the best before dates between April 29 to June 16, 2009.

These fresh (not frozen) beef products were sold to grocery stores across Atlantic Canada, Ontario and Quebec, including Loblaws, Real Canadian Superstores and Fortinos supermarkets.

The beef products were sold in various weight packages, including trays with a plastic wrap, along with product sold at the meat counters.

Consumers are advised to check their freezers and dispose of any beef products bearing the date mentioned above.

No recent illnesses in Canada have been linked to these products.

The meat is part of a massive recall in the U.S. due to E. coli that has made 18 ill.

For more information on what products have been affected

Posted by: ShawnC | July 1, 2009

An immigrant’s story on becoming Canadian


Sifting through my father Stefan Harasim’s photos and memorabilia, I am reminded of when he spoke of the “Old Country”. As a child, I watched him organize parcels to be sent to his family in rural Ukraine, his birthplace, at that time still behind the Iron Curtain. Dad devoted hours organizing scarves, shawls, leather, and fabric to send to his siblings, their families and other members of an extended family whom my mother, brother and I knew very little about.

My grandfather, John (Ivan) Harasymyszyn, left Ukraine to escape political persecution after the First World War, hoping to have one son (my father) and daughter join him in Canada. But then the Second World War broke out, preventing this from happening. During the war my father experienced much trial and tribulation in the form of the hunger, fear and wear-and-tear on his body from excess physical farm work –only to become one of many displaced in postwar Europe, unable to return to his homeland.

Dad, since the age of four, had held onto the hope of living in Canada. In 1946 the dream was realized, while working in Belgium’s coal mines, after learning his own father had died. Sponsored by my grandfather’s friend, Dad arrived in Halifax in 1948 and continued west on a train destined for the Edmonton area, where he would start his new Canadian life. He worked diligently at it. In the 1950s he moved to Calgary and met my mother, a

“Canadian farmer’s daughter.” They married in 1955.

Communist rule ended in Ukraine during the late 1980s, allowing its citizens some freedom of travel. In 1992, my father made the decision to return to Ukraine to visit his family’s village, a place he had not seen since the early 1940s. Here he rekindled relationships and travelled extensively for six weeks. Very little had changed. People still hitched their horses to wagons to bring produce on market days to the village. He did see the fruits of his labour to improve his family’s quality of life, particularly the tractor he financed. Dad’s family was “one of the lucky ones” with relatives in Canada to help.

The day my father returned to Calgary, Mom, my husband and I met him at the airport. We rode home in relative silence, my parents holding hands. Dad commented on the smooth ride in contrast to those he had just taken in Ukraine’s shock absorber-free vehicles navigating on bumpy roads.

After pulling into the driveway, Dad hopped out of the car and looked out over his large vegetable garden. He lit up a cigarette and observed: “I am home. Canada is my home.”

Anne Gafiuk is a Calgary freelance writer.

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