Monday, September 29, 2014

Canada's First Saffron Farm Expecting Excellent Crop

Canada's first farm dedicated to growing saffron, the spice that's worth more than its weight in gold, is getting ready to harvest its first bumper crop. 

Source :

But even that will weigh less than a pound of butter. 

Pur Safran, located in the small Quebec village of St-Elie-de-Caxton, expects to harvest 450 to 500 grams of the precious spice before the end of October. 

"We would like for Quebec to become self-sufficient in saffron production, because we can do it,"  said Pur Safran co-owner Nathalie Denault, who not only produces the spice, but teaches other potential growers the ropes. 

Saffron comes from the reddish-orange stigmas of a particular crocus flower and is considered to be the most expensive spice in the world. 

Denault and farm co-owner André Laplante travelled to France to learn how to grow it and came back to Quebec to run a series of tests. 

Once they were sure they could start production in Canada, they set out to find the perfect patch of land. 

Of the 50,000 bulbs imported from France, only three didn't survive last winter's record-breaking cold temperatures. 

Denault says the saffron flower can be burned by the cold, so needs a thick snow cover to thrive.   

The flower's biological clock works opposite to that of most crops. 

The bulbs sprout in the fall, bloom into a fragrant purple flower which only lasts 24 to 48 hours, then reproduces by splitting into more bulbs under the snow. The plant's dormant phase is in the summer. 


Source :

Project aims to give Quebec's overworked farmers a break

Pilot project based in Victoriaville offers replacement farmers in 

the Centre-du-Québec region

CBC News Aug 03, 2014 

FILE PHOTO: A farmer-replacement pilot project was set up in the Eastern Townships to help overworked dairy farmers take much-needed breaks.

FILE PHOTO: A farmer-replacement pilot project was set up in the Eastern 
Townships to help overworked dairy farmers take much-needed breaks. 
(Darko vojinovic/Associated Press)

Days off work are rare for Quebec dairy farmers, and that’s why a 
group of farmers is working to create a substitute program.
“On smaller farm where you have one person who’s the everything - 
the maintenance man, the cow man, the field man — it’s very hard to 
find somebody to replace that,” said Mike MacDonald, the owner of a 
dairy farm in Hatley, near Lennoxville in the Eastern Townships.
He has between 70 and 75 cows, 36 of which are dairy cows.
He said it’s as difficult to find qualified help as it is to fix a date when a 
farmer can actually leave on vacation, because it depends on various 
conditions on the farm.
And when farmers are sick, MacDonald said, they usually just suffer
 through it.
“You kind of just work through it. Maybe you have some pretty bad days
 but you work through it,” he said.
That’s why the Victoriaville-based Centre for Social Innovation in Agriculture 
has put together a farmer-replacement program.

Farmers need a break
About 30 farmers are participating in the pilot project, which is run by 
Michel Gendreau.
Gendreau said agricultural workers are twice as likely to suffer psychological 
distress than the average Canadian.
“The owner needs to take a break sometimes,” Gendreau said.
It’s hard for farmers to trust their livelihoods in other people’s hands. 
MacDonald said it would be worrisome to have someone unfamiliar with
 his farming methods and schedule taking care of his animals, and said it 
would require quite a bit of training.
That’s where people like Guillaume Spénard come in. The son of a farmer, 
he has been working in the sector since he was 10 years old but does not 
have his own farm.
“So far I’ve done 24 farms with 24 different methods. You have to adapt,” 
Spénard said.
Gendreau hopes to expand the program, based out of the Victoriaville 
CEGEP, to cover the entire agriculture-focused Centre-du-Québec region.
Source : CBC News

Thursday, September 25, 2014

One-year countdown to Eastern Ontario's next IPM

Sept. 2015 edition in Finch

By Glenda Eden - AgriNews Contributor

STORMONT, DUNDAS & GLENGARRY -- In the countdown to Stormont Dundas and Glengarry's 2015 International Plowing Match and Rural Expo (IPM) in Finch, organizers are determined to give people everything they expect of an IPM as well as distinctive insight into what the region is all about.

"Yes, there will be dancing tractors," says Finch IPM chairman Jim Brownell in a recent interview, but visitors to the United Counties IPM a year from now can expect a number of events and features unique to SD&G.

Plowing match favourites like the horses and antique tractor plowing, and the quilt show will of course be a big part of the 2015 event in Finch. However, a great effort is being made to take advantage of this opportunity to highlight the three United Counties, says Brownell.
But never fear, the wildly entertaining and popular dancing tractors will be at Finch. "It's the funniest thing to see," he says, of the square dance-inspired choreographed antique tractors and costumes. "People are always asking about that."

Bringing the agricultural, historical and cultural nature of the region to the match is an important part of the planning. Organizers want to showcase local performers and hope to offer First Nations dancers, Celtic music and Oktoberfest entertainment at the Finch match.

Also unique to the SDG plowing match and approved in principle by the OPA, will be an attempt to break a Guinness World Record. Current record holders in Langenburg, Saskatchewan operated 41 antique threshing machines simultaneously for 15 minutes in 2013. "That event would be a fantastic feature," Brownell says, truly agricultural and an excellent way to contribute, as a rural host, to the educational component of the event by showing the urban and non-farming community how it was once done.

Organizers are also looking into hosting an auctioneers competition. "That is still on the books," he says, of an event that would showcase a profession deeply rooted in the agricultural community.
The 2015 IPM raffle will also have a regional flavour. First prize is an Ottawa Senators' trip to the Barbados for two in January 2016, which includes airfare, resort accommodations and several excursions including a catamaran junket sponsored by Winchester Travel. The second prize is two nights' accommodation at the Upper Canada Guest House for two with golf, village admission and dinner at Willard's hotel. The third place package, also for two, is accommodations at the Best Western in Cornwall and admission to both Glengarry Highland Games and the Friday night Tattoo.

The raffle tickets will be ready to sell when a large delegation heads out to the 2014 match in Ivy, Simcoe County, in late Sept., says Brownell. Volunteers are geared up for this as it is a very important trip for the SDG organizers who will, not only be manning a booth inviting visitors to come down to SDG in 2015, but for directors and committee members to study what their counterparts have done and how they've done it. Brownell expects the delegation to come back very enthusiastic and prepared to tackle the work in front of them over the next year.

The 2015 match may well be the biggest event ever staged in the three United Counties, similar in scale perhaps to the Glengarry Highland Games times five. In terms of numbers, Brownell compares daily visitors to the plowing match to the Sat. crowds at the games.

With 20,000 to 25,000 visitors expected each day, the Finch IPM will require upwards of 1,100 volunteers. As well as developing their volunteer base, much has already been done. The IPM cookbook, an important fundraising tool, was completed late last fall and widely available across the counties. Perhaps the most immediate task at hand is signage, he says, both at the event site and strategic roads leading to it.

But, the team may very well be ahead of the game in planning the event with about 70 directors, committee chairs and co-chairs and upwards of 400 volunteers already hard at work. "Certainly the Ontario Plowmen's Association members who come out to our meetings seem pleased with the progress we're making," said Brownell. "Everyone's pulling in the right direction."

Source : AgriNews Contributor

Monday, March 24, 2014

Welcom spring with comfort food recipes

Welcome Spring with comfort food recipes!

Enjoy an elegant dinner of Spring Risotto, Salmon with Fresh Sorrel Sauce, and Fresh Peas with Mint that is surprisingly simple to make. The fresh spring flavors of mint, fava beans, peas, and new potatoes are highlights for this holiday-worthy menu from
Fava Bean Bruschetta
Favas are sometimes called broad beans or horse beans, and are most often used in Mediterranean foods. This bruschetta is a delicious way to showcase them. Manchego viejo cheese is aged and has a firm texture similar to Parmesan. If you can't find Manchego viejo, use Parmesan.

  • 2 1/4 pounds unshelled fava beans
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
  • 2 tablespoons extravirgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 (1-pound) French bread baguette, cut into 32 slices
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shaved Manchego viejo cheese
Remove beans from pods; discard pods. Cook beans in boiling water 1 minute; rinse with cold water. Drain; remove outer skins from beans. Discard skins. Place beans in a food processor. Add tarragon and next 4 ingredients (through garlic); process until almost smooth. Spread about 1 1/2 teaspoons bean mixture over each bread slice. Arrange cheese evenly over bread slices.

Salmon with Fresh Sorrel Sauce
Sorrel is a tart, slightly sour spring herb. You can substitute watercress or arugula, if you'd like. The bread helps thicken the sorrel sauce for a consistency that is similar to pesto.
Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner; Styling: Fonda Shaia
Photo by: Becky Luigart-Stayner; Styling: Fonda Shaia

  • Sauce:
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 cup chopped sorrel
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh chives
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 (1-ounce) slice white bread
  • Fish:
  • 8 (6-ounce) salmon fillets (about 1 inch thick)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Cooking spray
To prepare sauce, combine first 10 ingredients in a food processor; process until smooth.
Preheat broiler.
To prepare fish, sprinkle fish with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place fish on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray; broil 10 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Serve fish with sorrel sauce.

Spring Risotto
Fava beans must be shelled twice. First they're removed from their pods, then blanched, cooled slightly, and pinched to remove the outer skins. Fresh beans taste the best, but canned fava beans will also work when fresh are out of season. Look for sun-dried tomato paste with the other tomato products in the supermarket.

  • 6 cups boiling water, divided
  • 1 cup dried morels
  • 2 pounds unshelled fava beans
  • 5 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups thinly sliced leek (about 3 large)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 2 tablespoons sun-dried tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup sliced green onions
  • 3/4 cup (3 ounces) finely grated fresh Romano cheese
Combine 3 cups of boiling water and morels in a bowl; cover and let stand for 30 minutes. Drain mushrooms; rinse with cold water. Drain and chop.
Remove beans from pods; discard pods. Place beans in a medium saucepan with remaining 3 cups boiling water; cook beans 1 minute. Rinse with cold water. Drain; remove outer skins from beans. Discard skins.
Bring broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan (do not boil). Keep broth warm over low heat.
Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add leek and garlic; sauté 2 minutes or until leek is tender. Add rice and tomato paste; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in wine, salt, and pepper; cook 1 1/2 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Stir in 1 cup broth; cook about 2 1/2 minutes or until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add remaining broth, 1 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 20 minutes total). Stir in morels and beans; cook for 30 seconds or until thoroughly heated. Stir in green onions. Sprinkle each serving with cheese.

Fresh Peas with Mint
Look for pea pods that are plump, firm, and bright green. Store the pods in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to a day, and shell just before cooking.

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup sliced green onions
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups shelled green peas (about 3 1/2 pounds unshelled)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add peas, water, broth, honey, and salt; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 12 minutes or until peas are tender. Remove from heat; stir in mint. Serve with a slotted spoon.

Greek Easter Bread
Add this sweet, spiced homemade bread to your must-bake Easter recipes. It's beautiful, delicious, and large enough to feed a crowd.
Becky Luigart-Stayner
Photo by: Becky Luigart-Stayner 

  • 1 teaspoon whole allspice
  • 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
  • Dash of salt
  • Dash of sugar
  • 2 packages dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons each)
  • 4 3/4 cups bread flour, divided
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 large egg yolk
Place allspice and cinnamon in a spice or coffee grinder, and process until finely ground. Set aside.
Combine water, dash of salt, dash of sugar, and yeast in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Let stand for 5 minutes. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 1 cup flour to yeast mixture, stirring until well combined. Let stand 20 minutes.
Place sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in allspice mixture. Add yeast mixture to butter mixture; stir with a whisk until well combined. Stir in 1 teaspoon salt. Add 3 1/2 cups flour, about 1 cup at a time, stirring until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel tacky).
Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size. (Gently press 2 fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.)
Divide dough into 3 equal portions, shaping each portion into a 14-inch-long rope. Place ropes lengthwise on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray (do not stretch); pinch ends together at one end to seal. Braid ropes; pinch loose ends to seal. Lightly coat dough with cooking spray. Cover and let rise 45 minutes or until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 350°.
Combine 1 tablespoon water and egg yolk, stirring with a whisk. Brush half of yolk mixture over loaf. Let stand for 5 minutes. Repeat procedure with the remaining yolk mixture. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes.

Strawberry Shortcake Jelly Roll
Fresh strawberries and whipped cream make this a lovely springtime dessert. A curl of orange rind adds a nice garnish.
Becky Luigart-Stayner 
Photo by: Becky Luigart-Stayner

  • 4 cups quartered strawberries (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 3/4 cup sugar, divided
  • Cooking spray
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 egg whites
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 (10-ounce) jar strawberry jam
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • Orange rind strips (optional)
Combine the strawberries and 1/4 cup sugar in a medium bowl. Cover and chill 1 hour; stir occasionally.
Preheat oven to 400°.
Coat a 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan with cooking spray; line bottom of pan with wax paper. Coat wax paper with cooking spray.
Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt, stirring with a whisk. Set aside.
Place remaining 1/2 cup sugar, egg whites, and egg yolks in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until pale and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Stir in lemon rind and vanilla. Sift half of flour mixture over egg mixture; fold in. Repeat procedure with remaining flour mixture. Spoon batter into prepared pan; spread evenly.
Bake at 400° for 10 minutes or until cake springs back when touched lightly in center. Loosen cake from sides of pan; turn out onto a dishtowel dusted with powdered sugar. Carefully peel off wax paper; let cake cool 2 minutes. Starting at narrow end, roll up cake and towel together. Place, seam side down, on a wire rack; cool completely (about 1 hour). Unroll carefully; remove towel. Spread jam over cake, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Reroll cake, and place, seam side down, on a platter. Cut into 8 slices.
Beat cream with a mixer at high speed until stiff peaks form. Serve strawberries and whipped cream with cake. Garnish with orange rind, if desired.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Favorable Blueberry Season Expected in Southeast

The spring is shaping up to be another strong season for southeastern blueberries.Florida kicks off domestic production by commencing shipments in mid- to late March in its south and central growing regions before north Florida begins in mid-April, with Georgia’s first production usually starting in late April.The region is growing in importance with retailers.While California produces berries in April and May, the Golden State’s production doesn’t really peak until May 20 to June 20 and are shipped primarily to West Coast retailers, said Brian Bocock, the Grand Junction, Mich.-based vice president of product management for Naturipe Farms LLC, Salinas, Calif.“The Southeast is critical,” Bocock said. “It absolutely hits a window that is needed to supply the customer base when Chile winds down in March. The Southeast fills a very needed role in filling the blueberry supply line in filling a 52-week continual supply.”In general, this season’s southeastern production appears to be strong, he said.The region is also growing in production.Responsible for about half of the continent’s total and fresh fruit production, the western region, which includes all of the West Coast and blueberry behemoth British Columbia, is North America’s largest blueberry producing region.The second-largest production region, the South, is seeing increased plantings, particularly in Georgia, and is generally responsible for producing 23% of the crop’s total and fresh production, according to the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council.“We are seeing more production out of the two regions,” said Mark Villata, executive director of the Folsom, Calif.-based organization. “They’re definitely on the rise. There is a lot of new acreage that was planted two to three years ago that’s starting to get into full bearing mode, so we are seeing increases in the West and in the South.”Last season, Florida produced 21.5 million pounds, a 14% increase from 2012, with almost all production going fresh.This year, Florida expects to harvest up to 25 million pounds, said Bill Braswell, owner of the Auburndale, Fla.-based Polkdale Farms and Juliana Plantation and farm manager of Bartow, Fla.-based Clear Springs Packing LLC.Florida should be in a good position to fill demand created by dwindling offshore production by the time Florida ramps up volume, he said.That void should provide Florida berries a favorable window, Braswell said.“The blueberries look really good and we have had nothing negative happen to the crop so far,” Braswell said in mid-February. “Everything looks good at this point.”Braswell said he expects Florida production to peak during the second and third weeks of April, just as Georgia’s southern highbush crop ramps up.Some harsh cold weather struck Georgia production regions, said Teddy Koukoulis, director of blueberry operations for Wish Farms, Plant City, Fla.“There was some ice and snow in some locations,” he said in mid-February. “There wasn’t any significant damage. The bushes weren’t at a stage where they were flowering or anything like that, which could really hurt them.”North Carolina typically begins production in mid-May with production peaking around Memorial Day through June 10.Growers report acreage increasing, Bocock said.Julie Woodcock, executive director of the North Carolina Blueberry Council Inc., in Atkinson, said the last official number the council has seen is more than 6,000 acres.She said she knows of several farms that plan to start producing within 18 months.At the beginning of the domestic blueberry season, the Southeast is a key part of the deal, said Stacy Spivey, North American berry program director for Alpine Fresh in Miami.“There is a lot of high-quality fruit and nice volumes that come out of the Southeast,” he said. “The domestic season relies on the Southeast to get started on the right foot.”For more details click here.

Source : The Packer, Doug Ohlemeier, 03/03/2014 11:05:00 AM.

Friday, November 29, 2013

2013 : An average cranberry harvest

 Site web de l'Association des Producteurs de Canneberges du Québec
November 28, 2013,  Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes, Quebec . Called together for a special general assembly, the grower members of the Quebec Cranberry Growers Association (ACPQ) voted in favor of volume control regulations for the 2014 crop in the goal of creating a balance between the supply and demand of cranberries in the North American market. Nevertheless, the implementation of this mechanism is conditional to a similar vote in favor of volume controls by American growers for their 2014 crop.

2013 : An average harvest

The Quebec Cranberry Growers Association (APCQ) is pleased to announce that the total cranberry harvest in Quebec for the 2013 season reached 162, 176, 427 pounds of fruit. This represents a decrease of 13% compared to 2012 despite an increase of 588 acres harvested over the previous year.

An average yield of 21,178 pounds per acre has been recorded for 2013, bringing the figures back to normal levels compared to 26,000 pounds per acre harvested in 2012, when record production levels were reached. The average 2013 yields represent a drop of 19% compared to 2012; however the 2013 crop corresponds to the 5-year average.

Conventionally-grown cranberries
The overall harvest for conventionally-grown cranberries reached a total of 143, 918, 168 pounds, thus a drop in production of 12% over 2012. Newly harvested acreage also jumped 8% between 2012 and 2013. Thus, the average yield per acre dropped 19% in a return to average levels of 22,000 pounds per acre.

Organically-grown cranberries

The Quebec harvest of organic cranberries totaled 18, 258, 259 pounds for 2013, representing a drop in production of 18% compared to 2012. The average yield per acre also diminished about 20% from 20,000 pounds per acre in 2012 to 16,000 pounds per acre in 2013.  Organic cranberries represent 15% of all cranberry production in Quebec.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Is healthy food a must ?

McDonalds pledges healthful meal options

09/27/2013 10:58:00 AM
Pamela Riemenschneider

New Happy MealMcDonalds Corp. wants to know if consumers want 
a salad — or fruit — with their meal in lieu of less 
nutritious side options.

The Oak Brook, Ill.-based company partnered with 
the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and American 
Heart Association to offer more fruit and vegetable 
options with its meals. The options are available in 
20 of the restaurant’s largest markets, representing 
85% of the company’s global sales, according to a 
news release.

The company committed to providing customers “a choice of side salad, fruit or vegetable as a 
substitute for french-fries in value meals” but specified that salad, fruit or vegetable options would 
vary depending on the participating market.

The company also made changes to its Happy Meal policy, removing sodas as options advertised 
in stores and in the marketplace. Patrons can still order soda with a Happy Meal, however.

McDonalds plans to include nutrition and well-being messages on Happy Meal boxes and bag 
panels, and ensure all ads aimed at children will “include a fun nutrition or children’s well-being 
message. ” New packaging will “generate excitement for fruit, vegetable, low/reduced calorie dairy 
or water options for kids,” according to a news release.

Click here to learn more about this article.

Source: Pamela Riemenschneider, The Packer, 27/09/2103.