By Dave Harrison
Nov. 28, 2014, Toronto — Truly Green Farms has been named one of three Leaders In Innovation with this year’s Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence program.
Truly Green Farms is a 22.5-acre greenhouse vegetable operation in Dresden, Ontario.
Its ripening tomatoes aren’t just fresh and flavourful. They’re also carbon neutral. Truly Green was established next door to the GreenField Ethanol plant to take advantage of the carbon dioxide the plant emits.
Not only does using the CO2 promote tomato growth, it ensures that 15,000 metric tonnes of planet-warming gases stay out of the atmosphere each year. That’s the equivalent of taking 3,000 cars off the road.
Over the next 10 years, Truly Green plans to expand to 90 acres of greenhouse production, sequestering even more CO2 from its neighbour. By taking advantage of the ethanol plant’s waste heat, Truly Green also keeps its own energy use to a minimum.
Premier Kathleen Wynne hosted several agri-food industry innovators at the awards reception. She also announced a new Growth Steering Committee to help drive agri-food industry growth and create jobs across the province.
“ Our government is proud to support the hard work, dedication and creativity of Ontario’s innovative thinkers that has helped make our agri-food industry the success that it is today,” said Wynne. “I want to congratulate today’s winners and all of this year’s 50 award recipients.”
The Growth Steering Committee will be co-chaired by Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs deputy minister Deb Stark and Ontario Pork board of directors chair Amy Cronin.
The goal is to identify and pursue future opportunities, and design a growth measurement system. It will bring together industry and government leaders and experts to identify opportunities to help the industry meet the Growth Challenge. At last year’s summit, Premier Wynne challenged the industry to double its growth rate and create 120,000 new jobs in Ontario by 2020.
The summit also recognized the work of local agri-food businesses whose new ideas and products are creating jobs, growing local economies and bringing quality Ontario food to consumers.
Jeff Leal, minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs, said that through such innovation, “we are positioning our province and our agri-food industry for job creation and economic growth.”
• The Premier’s Award was presented to Kaley’s Acres of Castleton for converting former tobacco fields into a successful kale production operation.
• The Minister’s Award was presented to A. Driedger Farms Inc. of Wheatley for developing a self-propelled tomato harvesting machine that speeds up harvesting by 19 per cent, while preserving the quality of the fruit.
In addition to Truly Green Farms, other Leaders in Innovation were The Rheault Distillery of Hearst, and The Garlic Box of Hensall.
AT A GLANCE
• A total of 50 regional agri-food innovation awards will be announced across the province this year.
• Since 2007, 425 producers, processors and agri-food organizations have received a Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence.
• Ontario’s agri-food sector supports farmers, communities and the economy – employing more than 760,000 Ontarians and contributing over $34 billion to the province’s economy.