Greenhouse grower earns Innovation Award

December 14, 2017
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Dec. 14, 2017, Toronto – A greenhouse operation earned this year’s Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence.

Premier Kathleen Wynne announced Ontario's highest honour for innovative solutions supporting the province's powerhouse agri-food industry today at the 11th annual Premier's Awards for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence.

Stouffville-based Greenbelt Microgreens received the top honour of the Premier's Award for developing an eco-friendly process to grow organic microgreens year-round.

The company's state-of-the-art facility grows nutrient-dense sunflower sprouts, pea shoots, wheat grass and other microgreens that can be produced on an average 10-day growth cycle, with a shelf life of 13 days.

“Ontario’s agriculture sector is internationally recognized because of the dedicated, passionate and skilled workers behind it,” said Wynne. “Congratulations to all of this year’s winners and finalists for asking the imaginative questions that have led to these made-in-Ontario innovations.

“And thank you to everyone in agri-food for playing a vital role in creating the industry’s jobs of tomorrow, as well as making Ontario even more competitive in the global agri-food market.”


GREENBELT MICROGREENS DEEPLY ROOTED IN INNOVATION

Looking for fresh, local arugula sprouts in February? Greenbelt Microgreens has you covered. The greenhouse operation has developed an eco-friendly process for growing organic microgreens such as lettuce, arugula and wheatgrass year-round right in Ontario's Greenbelt.

The company's state-of-the-art facility uses several green features. For example, cisterns collect rainwater used to irrigate the crops, and each evening ceiling curtains automatically close to keep warm air inside while a glass roof opens up to release excess hot air on sunny days. Biomass heating, solar power and other energy-saving approaches also help to reduce the operation's environmental footprint.

Since 2010, the producers have experimented with growing mediums, seed types and mechanized harvesting equipment. Those efforts have paid off. Thanks to their innovations, Greenbelt Microgreens is 80 times more efficient than open field production.

Supplemental LED lighting has decreased growing time by 30 per cent, while a unique soil mix that includes organic fertilizers, fish emulsion and coconut fibre also helps to maximize yields. The results are nutrient-dense sunflower sprouts, pea shoots, wheat grass and other microgreens that can be produced on an average 10-day growth cycle and boast a shelf life of 13 days - the longest in the industry. Today, the company has become the largest grower of organic microgreens in Canada, supplying fresh produce to hundreds of retailers such as Longo's, Sobey's and T&T Supermarket.

The awards program recognizes the many accomplishments of Ontario farm community.

“Year after year, these awards showcase outstanding individuals across the province whose innovative ideas are helping grow Ontario’s agri-food sector for today and tomorrow,” said Jeff Leal, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

“ I’d like to congratulate this year’s recipients and thank them for their commitment to strengthening Ontario’s world-class agri-food sector and positioning our province for continued economic growth.”

QUICK FACTS

•    Ontario is a global hub for agri-food innovation. The province’s agri-food sector supports more than 800,000 jobs and contributes more than $37 billion towards the province’s gross domestic product.

•    Since 2007, the program has received more than 1,700 nominations, with $4.25 million distributed to 525 award-winning innovators.

•    In 2017, fifty innovators from across the province were recognized with regional Agri-Food Innovation Excellence Awards.

•    The U.S. is Ontario’s top trading partner, with two-way agri-food trade totalling about $28.8 billion in 2016.


CAPTION
Premier Wynne, Ian Adamson, Michael Curry, Minister Leal

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