All posts in category “On the Farm”

  • Greenhouse turns over new leaf with Niagara Lettuce Co.

    The team at Niagara Lettuce Co. in Vineland.

    My column, Eating Niagara, runs every second Wednesday in the St. Catharines Standard, Niagara Falls Review and Welland Tribune.

    Eat healthier. Cut food waste. Be kinder to the planet.

    They’re a common refrain at this time of year, the height of resolution season.

    If they’re your goals for the new year, there’s an easy way to spare yourself resolution remorse for any tumbles off the proverbial wagon: Eat a salad. Just make sure it’s made with leaves grown by Niagara Lettuce Co.

    The Vineland greens machine that’s a division of Sunrise Greenhouses grows between 1,300 and 1,500 heads of Boston, green and red oak leaf lettuce each week — even now in the greyest and coldest depths of January. So if eating local is also on your to-do list, you really have no excuses.

    Dennis Sengsavang, who grows the heads of tender greens for Niagara Lettuce Co., will confirm how easy it is to make friends with salad.

    “I became a big salad guy,” he said. “I’ll be honest, it’s a passion for growing. I love seeing it from the beginning to end.”

    Still, this isn’t just any salad that Sengsavang grows.

    Sunrise Greenhouses is better known for being early adopters of new and niche houseplant production. For years potted flowers, such as campanula, rather than food have been Sunrise’s bread and butter.

    The operation began branching into edibles when it worked with the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre to develop the pixie grape, a popular and petite ornamental wine grapevine that comes in Pinot Meunier, and soon Merlot, Riesling and Cab Franc.

    But Sunrise general manager Rodney Bierhuizen knows tastes change when it comes to the plants we place in our living rooms. Salad, by contrast, is a relative constant in our kitchens, and a more sustainable business plan than that stylish succulent sitting on my coffee table.

    Read the rest of the story

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    Category Food Finds, On the Farm

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  • Peach Tree
  • Fall Rolled Up: Apple-Cranberry Fruit Leather

    This post was sponsored by the Ontario Apple Growers (OAG). What does that mean? I was paid to develop this recipe for apple-cranberry fruit leather. OAG set up and accompanied me on a visit to Art Moyer’s apple orchard but the recipe and story I’ve told below are my own, without input or editing by OAG.

    I have a rule that I won’t eat apples until peach season is over.

    It’s not a hard and fast one. I knew I’d waver when my mom arrived at my door in early September with a handful of Ginger Golds. And I knew I wouldn’t regret it.

    Niagara doesn’t grow a lot of apples. We’re small potatoes compared to Georgian Bay, home to the most acres of apple orchards in Ontario. But we’re still mighty. Those Ginger Golds told me so.

    So did a visit to Art Moyer’s Grimsby apple orchard last week, a swath atop the Niagara Escarpment that his family has farmed since 1947. Continue reading

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    Category On the Farm, Recipes

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  • Peach Tree
  • This Niagara nut farmer has heart

    My column, Eating Niagara, runs every second Wednesday in the St. Catharines Standard, Niagara Falls Review and Welland Tribune.

    It’s a sight that makes Linda Grimo smile every time she sees it.

    There, at the corner of Line 8 and Concession 7 in Niagara-on-the-Lake, is a sign that reads “Walnuts, Heartnuts, Fresh Eggs for Sale,” beckoning passersby to Dave White’s nearby farm.

    Grimo loves it not only because the trees on White’s sprawling acreage came from her family’s nut nursery on Lakeshore Road but because the man tending to them “sees the value of the crop.”

    White hasn’t spent his life farming to hone such instincts, however. In fact, he never likened himself a grower of anything despite having it in his blood. His family raised cattle and grew potatoes in Midland but he opted for a career in emergency response cleaning in Niagara.

    He has, however, always dreamed of living in the country. So three years ago, when a modern bungalow in a bucolic setting went on the market, he and his “city slicker” wife, Tracey, did something his friends told him was plain nutty.

    They bought their dream house with 180 heartnut and black walnut trees in the backyard. They added chickens on a lark. Sales of eggs and nuts at the farm gate have been brisk ever since.

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    Category Food Finds, On the Farm

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  • Peach Tree
  • Watch: Migrant Dreams shows migrant labour nightmare

    Editor’s note: I was invited to screen Migrant Dreams by GAT PR. I was not paid for this post, nor did GAT PR have input into this post.

    It’s not often that I’m embarrassed to be Canadian. In fact, this might be the first time I’m saying it out loud and in such a public way.

    But it’s how I felt after watching the documentary Migrant Dreams, a film by Min Sook Lee, about the plight of migrant workers toiling in our greenhouses — packing cucumbers, harvesting tomatoes — as part of Canada’s Temporary Foreign Workers Program. (The documentary premieres Wednesday, Sept. 14 at 9 p.m. on TVO). They come for the opportunity to do the low-skilled, low-paying work that Canadians apparently don’t want to do.

    I say apparently because in 2009, I reported on the systematic firing of local workers so that a nearby greenhouse could start importing help using the program.

    Continue reading

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    Category On the Farm

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