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Ontario Farm Fresh Marketing Association

Providing knowledge and leadership to grow the farm fresh experience.

Fresh Facts
Newsletter #287
April 2013
Volume 28, Number 4

President’s Message…
What a difference a year makes! Last year at this time the sap had stopped running, the snow was gone, the fields were dry, and the apple blossoms were out in many areas. This year in Eastern Ontario, we still have a couple of feet of snow on the ground and the lakes and rivers are still frozen. The maple syrup producers are having a nice long season, and the apple growers are very optimistic with trees loaded with buds and the forecast of ideal spring weather. Many of our OFFMA members had a tough year last year but they were able to make it through by having diversified operations and using many of the ideas gathered from bus trips, seminars and networking at OFFMA functions. It was through connections made at OFFMA events that brought these farmers together. We are so fortunate to be part of such a supportive and caring organization that helps each other. Yours in farm marketing,

Inside this issue:
Membership News Regulatory Requirements for Food of Plant Origin A-Maz-ing Results What we learned from our barn fire

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Brian Hugli OFFMA President

Upcoming Events and Reminders

During our research for the Risk Management Workshops, we came across a very informative, very relevant website.
The website was created by the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety (NCCRAHS). The Center was established in 1997 with support from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to provide a wide range of services related to children and adolescents living in rural areas and working in agricultural environments. It is a comprehensive website containing a variety of walkthroughs, based on type of operation, to help owners identify health and safety hazards and provide resources that can be used to help fix these hazards. It’s a great tool that can be used to help keep children safe when they visit farms. There are many checklists and guidelines for all types of operations. The resources are available for your use, free of charge. Simply download them and use them on your farm. Don’t forget to bookmark the page it will come in handy….often.

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Fresh Facts


The Classifieds are for members who are selling a product or are looking for something specific. There is no charge for a member to list a classified ad. Just send your ad to the OFFMA office for inclusion in the next newsletter.

OFFMA Office Closed
April 8 to April 17 Cathy and Gary will be in California scouting the November bus tour. Stay tuned for the highlights.

Congratulations to Dana and Adam Thatcher for being awarded Ontario’s Outstanding Young Farmer Award. The Thatchers were named winners from 38 nominees after preparing a detailed appliOn March 28, Watson Farms ancation form and making presentations about their nounced the safe arrival of Kent business. Watson. Pictured here, he is already Thatcher Farms is located in Rockwood where they in his farm clothes. They start them raise beef, pork and lamb. Their products are sold young at Watson Farms. Congratula- through their on-farm butcher shoppe and bakery. tion to the whole family. Check out their website at

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Understanding Ontario’s Regulatory Requirements for Foods of Plant Origin
By Carl Fletcher, Strategic Planning Program Lead, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and food and Ministry of Rural Affairs

Understanding Ontario’s Regulatory Requirements for Foods of Plant Origin Ontario Regulation 119/11 Produce, Honey and Maple Products under the Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001 applies to:  Produce grown or harvested for commercial purposes : -Fruit and vegetable (fresh) -Sprouts -Culinary herbs (fresh) -Nuts and peanuts (in-shell) -Edible fungi (mushrooms – whole)  Honey and comb honey  Maple Products  Packing. transporting, advertising, selling or offering for sale Information about regulations regarding foods of plant origin, including Frequently Asked Questions can be found at Toolkit for Selling, Packing and Labelling Ontario Grown Produce Whether produce is offered for sale at a retail store, farmer's market, road side stand or on-farm market, as the seller, you are legally required to have a retail display sign. Any produce that

can be commercially grown or harvested in Canada, regardless of its origin, must comply with the retail display sign requirements of O. Reg. 119/11. The sign must give your customers accurate information about the produce you are selling. This toolkit has been designed to assist in making retail display signs for produce that is grown and marketed in Ontario. Different labelling and retail display sign requirements apply to produce that is grown in other provinces or outside Canada. The following templates should only be used to make retail display signs for produce grown in Ontario. These easy to use downloadable templates:  Fruit Retail Display Sign  Potato Retail Display Sign  Vegetable Retail Display Sign are available at http:// inspection/fruitveg/retailsign.htm and will assist you in making a retail display sign for the most commonly grown and marketed produce in Ontario.

Some other OMAF Factsheets you may want to review and have on hand.

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What You Should Know About Ticketable Offences – Infosheet October 2013 (Ticketable offences under the produce, honey and maple products regulation) Improving on-farm food safety through good irrigation practices – Factsheet Agdex200/05 Managing risk in farms open to the public – Factsheet Agdex 838 Developing an Agri-tourism operation in Ontario – Factsheet Agdex 842 Reducing the risk of fire on your farm – publication 837

Order online at or call the ServiceOntario Contact Centre at 1-800-668-9938

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Fresh Facts

A-Maz-ing Results
by Amy Strom, Strom’s Farm In Guelph, Ontario

Thirteen years ago our family moved to Guelph, Ontario to help with the growing work load of Strom’s Farm. Having not grown up on a farm myself, I quickly realized how much planning, planting and patience are required to achieve growth. Strom’s Farm started in 1978 with sweet corn and then in 1995 Jay and Marg Strom decided to extend their season by adding pumpkins. When we arrived in 2000 we heard a lot of customers during pumpkin season asking for more ‘things to do’ (like picking the perfect pumpkin isn’t enough). So we started researching fall activities and decided to try our first corn maze in 2002. If you are looking to add a corn maze here are a few things to consider: Design – Consultant vs. Do It Yourself We chose to do it ourselves the first year and achieved our goal, so we have been designing our own mazes

ever since. In the winter Channing uses a grid to draw out our paths and plant in a grid, hoeing out plants to match which achieves +/- 15 inch accuracy. Several OFFMA farms go to the ‘Maze Master’, Hugh McPherson for their maze design ( or contact Channing ( for maze designing as well. Theme Theming is probably the hardest part so that each year is a new adventure for your customers. Customers love family traditions and we want to create new experiences each year with a new maze design and theme. In 2005 we partnered with a charity and it went so well we have been doing it ever since. In our maze we have 9 information/game stations and the charity supplies us with the content, photos and we work together on the maze challenge. As people enter the maze they are given a map, pencil and instructions for the game. When they exit we hand out aerial postcards of the maze and a prize (something with the charities’ name on it, candy or bubbles). Planting/Plotting/ Hoeing We plant long season field corn (stays green until hard frost and grows over 10 feet tall) in two directions, like a grid, early in June. After 3 weeks we place

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small plastic flags of one colour at every 20 rows and then begin to map out the paths with field stripe (baseball chalk) and flags. We then hoe out the corn in the paths. All in all, our 6 acre corn maze with 4 miles of paths involves about 200 man-hours before we open it to the public. For a tutorial go to StromsFarm You Tube page – ‘Building the Corn Maze 2011’. Size Our first maze was 2.5 acres and we found it a bit small to do designs. Second year we increased it to 5 acres and we now prefer 6 acres. We find 5 to 6 acres ideal – we are able to get several logos into the paths and most people spend an average of 20 – 30 minutes in the maze. We also have a path to the bridge that is twice as wide as the other paths and connected to our entrance/exit for those who are unsure of their directional skills but would like to experience the maze. Staff It is very important to have your corn maze staffed, both at the entrance and inside the paths. Your maze host is responsible for welcoming guests to the maze, explaining the rules/challenge of the maze and for safety (we do not allow children under 12 in without an adult, check point for lost adults or children, keeper of the first aid kit and fire extinguisher, etc.). Our maze walker helps guests once inside the maze, helps with rowdy guests and the upkeep of the maze. I would recommend 2-way radios for both of these positions. Marketing Marketing doesn’t always have to

cost money (yes, I know, normally it costs more than we like). An aerial photo is worth the investment to educate customers that the map you have given them are truly the paths and the paths do change every year (most customers believe we can leave the corn maze up from year to year). Consider some of the companies you have worked with in the past and propose a trade. We put two radio stations logos in our maze for 8 weeks worth of radio ads. Also, if you work with a charity you may be eligible to receive PSA’s (Public Service Announcements). Get creative, think outside the box and let your existing customers in on the excitement. Here’s to an A-Maz-ing Season in 2013!

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Fresh Facts

What we learned from our barn fire
By Cathy Bartolic with information provided by Meghan Snyder On November 10, John came in for lunch like he does most every day on the farm. During the meal, Meghan got up and looked out the window and commented on the fog that had settled in. John didn’t remember seeing any fog when he came into the house so he went to have a look as well and was horrified by what he saw. The barn was on fire! Running out to save whatever he could, John left Meghan worrying about him with their 2 young children (Beau had just been born 5 days ago) in the house. The fire department came but the barn burned to the ground and the Snyders learned several lessons that they would like to share with other Farm Fresh members. Meghan presented this information to the group gathered in Cambridge for the Risk Management Workshop. You could have heard a pin drop during her presentation because we all know that accidents happen and we all think accidents won’t happen to us. The better approach would be to be as prepared as possible when the accident does happen. Call your insurance provider TODAY. There is no farmer who likes to do paperwork but this is critical. Go over the policy in detail so that you understand it. Insist on a site visit. If your insurance company will not come out, it might be time to look around, we all have unique operations that need to be seen. It is not enough for them to say on the phone that you are covered, show them exactly what it is you are doing. Get everything in writing. Go over your policy – IT IS YOUR JOB Meghan can’t emphasize enough on important it is to go over your policy with a fine tooth comb to make sure everything is clear, the deductible is right and your buildings are valued correctly. Otherwise why are you paying for insurance? As farm marketers, there are many very busy times during the year, but taking the time to review your policy and making sure your providers know what you are doing is essential. YOU need to know exactly what will happen if the UNTHINKABLE happens. Ask many questions. What happens if you lose a money making building/equipment right before your season or during? How long will the recovery process take? Who in your operation is going to be in charge of all the red tape and the re-build or purchase of equipment? Just a few things to consider. Take pictures of everything – Barns are used for storage. DO you know exactly what is in your barn? What will it cost you to replace something that you have had for years in 2013? Is a piece of equipment still available? Will it take time to replace? What will you do in the meantime? Building value vs. re-build costs – Know the difference and how it applies to your business. Make sure everyone knows what you are doing – The Snyders were lucky, they had done their due diligence with the haunted barn. They had an engi-

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neer sign off on it in 2008. It had armour cable wiring, emergency exits, fire alarms, fire extinguishers, fire retardant sprayed on the various scenes etc. The township and insurance company knew what their barn was and what they were using it for. Make a date – annually – A loss is devastating to your family and business, you need to go over your insurance policy annually and add or subtract things. Maybe you have buildings overvalued or undervalued. Think about how you use them and their importance to your

operation. If you don’t have everything in order, it could be the end of your business as you know it. Accidents do happen. Make sure you and your family are prepared.

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Fresh Facts

Upcoming Events for 2013
July 15-18 Aug. 7 & 8 Nov. 11-15 Ontario Farm Fresh
Cathy Bartolic, Executive Director 2002 Vandorf Rd. Aurora, ON L4G 7B9 Phone: 905-841-9278 Fax: 905-726-3369 E-mail: 2013-14 OFFMA Board of Directors Brian Hugli, President Hugli’s Blueberry Ranch Leslie Forsythe, Vice President Forsythe Family Farms Jesse Lauzon, Past President Springridge Farm Hollis English, Murphy’s Farmstead Cara Epp, Associate Member Edana Integrated Marketing Nicole Judge, Spirit Tree Estate Cidery Steve Martin, Martin’s Family Fruit Farm Colleen Pingle, Pingle’s Farm Market Steve Smith, Smith’s Apples Dana Thatcher, Thatcher Farms Carl Fletcher, OMAF and MRA Advisor to the Board

Project Seasons for Young Learners: Cultivating Joy & Wonder, Shelburne Farms, Shelburne, Vermont, Contact Linda Wellins, 802-985-0308 OFFMA’s Simcoe County Bus tour….stay tuned for additional information OFFMA’s Bus tour to the date, additional info to follow.

Free Brochure Distribution OFFMA will have a table set up at the Nathan Phillips Square Farmers’ market at Toronto City Hall to distribute your brochures. If you are interested in this opportunity, please send 150 brochures to the OFFMA office. There is no charge for this opportunity. Product Order Forms Your product order forms were due at the end of March. Product catalogues were included with the March newsletter but can also be viewed on the OFFMA website at The office does not carry a full inventory of the products throughout the year so if you are interested in something please send in your order form ASAP. OFFMA website We are actively promoting this website to consumers as a gateway to finding a farm in their area. Make sure your information on the OFFMA website is correct. Send updates to the OFFMA office.

RR #3 MEAFORD ONTARIO N4L 0A7 519-538-3000
We wholesale farm toys and farm memorabilia. Everything from inexpensive children’s toys to collector items. Product is stocked in and shipped from Meaford via Canpar, daily. Call for price lists and catalogues.