Chary Produce market opens for season

Oakland, Ontario-based Chary Produce’s Chary Picker Country Market will offer fresh produce to local customers when it opens for the season on June 19.

The market, which features fresh produce from Chary Produce, has been open during the summer months through Labor Day weekend for the last five years.

The demand for local produce has grown in the area. Miriam Worley, pack barn supervisor, said people had started to come in for produce in May but nothing was ready then.

“We have seen a steady increase each year in both customers and sales,” Worley said. “The interest is there.”


Carron Farms CSA program grows

This year, Carron Farms Ltd.’s Harvest Share food box service is expected to have about nine times the customers it had in its first season.

The Harvest Share program, for which people sign up online, either delivers a box of fresh fruits and vegetables that were grown on local farms to people’s homes or allows people to pick up boxes at Carron Farms.

When Carron Farms started the Harvest Share program five years ago, 64 families signed up, according to Jason Verkaik, owner of Bradford-based Carron Farms. This year, although exact numbers can’t be stated because people were still signing up, he said he expects to have up to 600 families signed up.

The program has been growing steadily. Last year more than 400 people signed up.

About 40 items are offered throughout the 20-week period. After the 20-week period is done, Harvest Share also offers a Christmas box for members. The Christmas box includes roots and storage vegetables.


Holland Marsh association creates documentary

The Holland Marsh Growers’ Association premiered a first-of-its-kind documentary on June 4, during Ontario’s Local Food Week, which was June 2-8.

The goal of the documentary is to educate people about farming and the growers’ perspectives. The video focuses on issues that all growers face, including loss of land, pesticides and the misunderstanding of what farming is really about.

“We did a documentary, because we believe that education is a key component to what we do,” said Jamie Reaume, executive director.


Not only is it airing in Canada on the Documentary Channel, but it will also air in the U.S. Reaume said after the premiere the documentary will be available online.

The association hopes the movie will get more young people involved in the industry, because the average age of growers in Canada is 55 and in the U.S. it is 57.

The association has also released a series of YouTube videos.


Nightingale Farms adds, eliminates crops

Bill Nightingale Jr., co-owner of Nightingale Farms in LaSalette, said things are ever-changing at the farm.

Nightingale said that the company recently eliminated zucchini because of the amount of labor it takes to harvest. In its place, the company has planted okra, eggplant and specialty peppers.

It also has added snow and snap peas.


Ontario association begins new research

The Ontario Berry Growers Association has started working on research with day-neutral strawberries to improve production in Ontario.

Kevin Schooley, executive director of the Kemptville-based Ontario Berry Growers Association, said he hopes the research will allow growers in the area to produce strawberries for longer periods of time every season, which will result in a large increase in production.

Schooley said that unlike regular strawberries, day-neutral or ever-growing strawberries can have a season up to five months. The regular strawberry season lasts only about five weeks, he said.

Other research focuses of the association include the spotted wing drosophila, an insect that attacks raspberry, blueberry and occasionally strawberry plants, and growing berries in containers of varying media.


P&S VanBerlo develops sweet pototo

P&S VanBerlo Ltd., Simcoe, Ontario, is working with Vineland Research and Innovation Centre to develop varieties of sweet potatoes.

Nick VanBerlo, director of sales and marketing, said that he hopes at least one of the 15 varieties being developed at Louisiana State University will work out for his farm.

If a new variety works well for VanBerlo, they should be ready for market with the rest of this year’s sweet potato crops.


Smith Gardens recycles wash water

Smith Gardens put in a recycling wash water system at its new 49,000-foot packinghouse facility to use as a replacement for its previously used settling pond. The process started in August and was completed in mid-January.

The system cost “well into the millions,” said Paul Smith, co-owner of Queensville-based Smith Gardens.

“It has been quite an onerous project,” Smith said. “It makes the facility pretty progressive when compared to our peers.”

“(The wash water system) creates a closed loop system so we can treat all the wash water and reuse it,” he said. “We lose some every day, but for the most part we use it all.”

The loss of water can be accounted for from many different sources, but some water gets spilled, some evaporates and some is lost on product.

“We have to replace about 30% with new water each day,” Smith said.

Smith said that the company wanted to get ahead of government regulations and get a system that was sustainable and environmentally friendly.


Welsh Bros. Farm continues to increase production

Scotland, Ontario-based Welsh Bros. Farm increased production again this year.

With asparagus production up 32% from last year so far, Welsh Bros. Farm is looking forward to a good harvest season.

Charles Welsh, a co-owner of Welsh Bros., said his company expects to continue to increase asparagus production for the remainder of the season. The farm still has two more plantings of asparagus before the season ends.

Welsh’s other crops, sweet corn and pumpkins, have both seen production increases by between 5% and 10%, which he says is the average growth each year.

“The (production) increase is about the same as last year,” Welsh said. “You could say it’s status quo.”