A 50 year journey

By Lisa McLean and Kelly Daynard

The Heeman family

The Heeman family

London – It’s been a long journey from their homeland in Holland to a successful three-generation family farming business in London for the Heemans.

That journey started more than 50 years ago for Bill and Susan Heeman. Bill said that he was looking for new opportunities. “I was in love. I wanted to get married,” he recalls with a smile. Both Bill and Susan had family that had already moved to Canada so when a recruiter offered to sell them tickets to Canada, they decided that the time was right. Continue reading

Ontario’s locally grown citrus

By Lilian Schaer

Marlene Wynnyk (left) and her sister Sandra in the orchard

Marlene Wynnyk (left) and her sister Sandra in the orchard

Teeswater ON – You could be in a citrus grove as you stroll amongst swaying branches chock full of brightly coloured orange fruit – but you know you can’t be since you’re in Ontario, a province not known for its citrus-growing climate.

What you’re seeing is sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides L), a unique and hard-to-find superfruit billed as “Ontario’s 100 mile citrus crop”. Continue reading

Ontario Agriculture Week is here

Ontario Agriculture Week occurs annually during the week leading up to Thanksgiving.  Here is an infographic showing some of the ways agriculture is important in Ontario.  Why not celebrate Ontario’s farmers this week and every week by looking for local foods and products, and joining the conversation at #loveontfood? Continue reading

Innovation drives success of family fruit business

Phil Tregunno and his son Jourdan are shown in their fruit orchard in Niagara

By Lilian Schaer

(Niagara-on-the-Lake) – Family tradition is an important part of Ontario’s farming culture. Innovation and new technology, however, are what helps keep that family tradition going for the future generations.

Fruit grower Phil Tregunno is proud of being the fourth generation of his family to farm in the Niagara Region – and with his two sons and a daughter-in-law working alongside him and his wife Lorna, the fifth generation is also firmly entrenched in the family business.

The Tregunnos’ main crop on their 700 acre farm is peaches, but they also grow nectarines and plums as well as table and wine grapes. Their tender fruit is sold through the Vineland Growers’ Co-operative in Jordan, which distributes it to Canada’s major retail chains, and their wine grapes, including pinot noir, sauvignon blanc, merlot and cabernet, are contracted to different wineries in the region. Continue reading

Quality fruit and service are key to family fruit farm

By Melanie Epp

(Fenwick) – Thirty years ago, Leo DeVries, a full-time carpenter, and his wife Margaret bought a small fruit farm in Fenwick, Ontario – a move that fulfilled a lifelong dream of becoming a farmer. That farm consisted of two acres of pears, four acres of apple trees and acres of unworked land, which left room for expansion in the future.

Soon after, Leo planted sour cherry, peach and apple trees. Because it takes a good seven years for cherry trees to fruit, he had time to transition from one career to the next. Eventually, he turned carpentry into a hobby and farming into a full time career.

From left to right: Leo, Dan and Mark DeVries

Today, the DeVrieses produce fruit and vegetables including apricots, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums, sweet and sour cherries, strawberries and some 20 varieties of apples.

Most of the apple varieties they grow aren’t available in grocery stores. These include Aurora Golden Gala – a new variety that is a cross between a Golden Del and a Gala. Pinova, another new variety, is a cross from a Cox Pippen, and of limited supply. Continue reading

Delivering flavours of the season to customers

By Jeanine Moyer

Braeside – Freshness and flavour are just a few reasons consumers purchase local Ontario produce. And for customers of McGregor’s Produce, they can add quality and taste to that list too because the McGregor family has built their business and reputation on those two traits.

“We only sell what we grow when it’s in season, and we won’t compromise on taste, quality or flavour,” says Ian McGregor of McGregor’s Produce, a multi-generation family produce farm located in Braeside, ON. The family grows strawberries, green and yellow beans, sweet corn, tomatoes and raspberries. Everything grown on the farm is sold directly to consumers through farm markets and roadside stands throughout the Ottawa Valley region.

Cam and Ian McGregor of McGregor’s Produce

Continue reading

Berry Beginnings

One of those true harbingers of spring is upon us – fresh, delicious, juicy, locally- grown strawberries are available across Ontario. But have you ever stopped to think about the work that goes into growing those strawberries?

Strawberries are now available in Ontario

Erin McLean of McLean Berry Farm in Lakefield, Ontario thinks of little else at this time of the year – in fact they’re thinking of their strawberries year-round, even when the plants aren’t in production.

At www.dinnerstartshere.ca/blog/entry/berry-beginnings, she takes you through the process of planting strawberries – from the eye of a farmer.  Watch her great video to see Ontario strawberries being planted.