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Ontario Farm Fresh Marketing Association

Providing knowledge and leadership to grow the farm fresh experience.

Fresh Facts
Newsletter #257
April 2010
Volume 25, Number 4

President’s Message……Get OFF the Farm
Last Saturday, we left the farm and headed west. Much to Channing’s chagrin we left the winter maintenance (don’t tell him it is now spring) for another day. We set off for a day of fun exploring to three other OFFMA member farms. I love networking – gathering new ideas, becoming more efficient at what we already do, and filling my folder with future dreams. Our first stop was McCully’s Hill Farm where we were greeted by the most friendly gentleman as soon as we stepped out of the van (I wanted to steal him for my farm). We enjoyed an interactive horse drawn wagon ride teaching us about maple syrup that had great visual displays. I was impressed with their Culinary Camp where they team up with Sheldon’s Berry Farm to pick blueberries then come back to the farm to make blueberry muffins. During the week long camp they also make freezer jam, a pie from scratch, and pizza. What a great way to educate the younger generation on how things grow and the value of local produce. A new venture for them this summer is a Community Garden Co-Op where “would-be-food-gardeners” can cultivate their own 10’ x 10’ garden plot. I can’t wait to hear how their new endeavour goes. Next stop, Appleland Station! This wasn’t our first time to see Ernie, Sharon, and Lindsay. They were crucial in the start up of our scratch bakery 4 years ago and we were long overdue for a visit. Since then they have built a 50’ x 50’ market and added a café. I walked in to this beautiful market and was once again greeted warmly by a woman behind the counter. I was immediately in love with their display racks, the layout, the colours in the café and an oven that bakes 96 pies at a time. My sons, Lucas and Evan, loved the sand pile that was three times the size of my house! One other feature that I found on their website, that was very helpful was under ‘driving directions – from your house’ – it connects you to google maps with their coordinates already in the final destination and you add your start location. Fantastic! A must add to our website. Finally, we headed to Foley Farm & Carolinian Winery. Once again we were welcomed as soon as we stepped foot into the door. Great job, Ontario on-farm markets – something as simple as a smile and warm welcome goes a long way to making customers our loyal ambassadors. They have a gorgeous new building as well with a partial second floor with additional seating and an outdoor patio. Great ambience for wine tasting! So, Get Off the Farm, no excuses about being too busy, and take a day before November to visit 2 or 3 farms near you. Don’t forget your camera and notepad to gather your new ideas and learn from the best out there – OFFMA members!

Inside this issue:
Members News Disney World Honeymoon Award Season Food Safety Risks Clovermead Bees & Honey Upcoming events

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Amy Strom, OFFMA President

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Fresh Facts

This issue of the FRESH FACTS newsletter is dedicated to you, our members. We often search far and wide to find leaders in our industry and examples of excellence. Yet we have so many excellent examples right here in Ontario, and more specifically part of OFFMA. Several are profiled albeit briefly in this issue. Make sure you follow up, visit their web sites or go for a drive if you want to source some additional information and ideas. Wishing all our members a fabulous 2010 season. Foodland Recipe Booklets
Many of you would have received some Foodland Recipe Booklets with OFFMA “Get Fresh. Visit a Farm” stickers. Please take a few minutes to apply the stickers to the booklets. This is the compromise we came up with since Foodland felt they couldn’t print our logo right on the booklets. OFFMA has been working with Foodland to secure these booklets for you. OFFMA provided Foodland with a list of members who are open in the spring and would probably be interested in distributing this material. We are planning on doing something similar later in the season with another recipe booklet that focuses on fall products, so don’t feel like you missed out if you didn’t get any of the spring version. Please send any feedback you have about this project to the OFFMA office.

New Members
Adventure Farms Larry Lorimer Simcoe, ON 226-567-0955 Orchard Home Farm Jerry & Lola Brubacher St. George, ON 519-448-1111 Johnstons Farm Market Craig & Merissa Johnston Bailieboro, ON 705-939-1737 Associate Member Willsie Equipment Sales Garry Willsie Thedford, ON 519-243-2616 or 1-800-561-3025 If these new members are located close to you, take a minute and wish them a hearty welcome. The more members we have the stronger the voice of direct marketing can become in Ontario.

People/School Tour Wagon 8ft x 2-ft people wagon with railing and seats. Wooden frame with steel steps, flotation tires. $3500—1 of 2 to choose from. For more info, contact John at 905-838-2990 Taylor Soft Serve Ice Cream Machine For Sale Model # 142-12 Soft Serve Ice Cream machine. Refurbished in Spring 2009. Asking $4500, for more info contact John at 905-838-2990
Classified ads are free to all OFFMA members. Classified ads will be printed in the next newsletter and on the web site in the classified ad section. Make use of this membership benefit, if you are looking to sell or purchase an item, send the relevant information to the OFFMA office. We’ll make sure it is posted.

The OFFMA office will often send out e-mails if the information is time sensitive or easier to distribute through the Internet. If you haven’t seen any e-mails from the office in the last month, please send us your e-mail address as we may have one that is incorrect.
John Stanley CD Now Available
If you attended the John Stanley Workshop in February, a CD has been enclosed with this newsletter. If you are interested in purchasing the CD, contact the OFFMA office. Cost for the full day workshop CD is $40 + GST.

Newsletter #257

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Honeymoon at Walt Disney World
By Paul Brooks, Brooks Farm, Mount Albert, ON It was 8:45am when we arrived at Disney’s Magic Kingdom. There was a wonderful excitement in the air. People were flooding in from all directions - the monorail, the boats, and the buses from the resorts. Just before 9am, the Mayor of Main Street, USA came out in his tuxedo and top hat to welcome everyone. Naturally, the Mayor had his dancers, and music to help set the stage and the mood. Excitement was building, as around 2000 people waiting were singing and dancing along. “In just a few minutes, Mickey and all his friends will be arriving from Toontown,” he announces loudly. “It’s the opening of Main Street and the Magic Kingdom!” I was impressed! They sure know how to start the show. My new wife, Kelly, and I were spending our honeymoon at Disney World in Florida and this was truly a magically moment. I think I was as excited as any child there! The train whistle blew and the smoke from the locomotive was right around the corner. It pulled into central station, and we all cheered as Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and friends all disembarked. “I now open the Magic Kingdom,” Mickey announced from high above our heads. Cheers rang out! WOW! I haven’t been to the magic kingdom since I was 2 years old, and I had a wonderful experience. You can’t ruin a day that starts like that. But honestly, what can I take home from this adventure? How can Disney, a massive, worldwide, multimedia giant, have any practical lessons for our small, family farms? Vision! When Walt Disney was planning the Magic Kingdom he said, “I just want it to look like no other place in the world….and be surrounded by a train” Walt had a vision and made it happen. Do you have a vision? Do you see your farm in five, ten or twenty year’s time? What does it look like? I believe that it’s absolutely vital to dream big about where you want to be. If you’re producing pick your own fruits, or operating a CSA, or a farm market or participating as a vendor at a farmers’ market, you need to realize that we are the heroes right now. We need to dream about where we’re going to be in the years ahead. I believe our true value is just being realised by the public and I know we have so much more to grow. Our farms are The newlyweds, Paul and Kelly Brooks magical places….we grow food, we grow fun! Memories! I believe that memories are built on tiny moments. The spark begins in the ordinary and builds to the extraordinary. Just like the opening of the park; it’s all about making a lasting wonderful impression. On our farms, it’s a wagon ride to the pumpkin patch, seeing a baby lamb for the first time, finding a fresh warm egg in the chicken coop, or picking fresh strawberries on a warm June day. It’s about all the simple moments that arrive unexpectedly. My favourite, of course, is a six shot blast from the Pumpkinator, but that’s just me! Now what will I do when I get home? Well I’m planning a wonderful opening to the farm! Just like at Disney, the train needs to pull in after our customers are waiting, I need fresh popcorn at the entrances, I need small, more personal moments with our mascots, and I need more shows than ever! Go out and give your customers that little extra…let your vision shine, and lasting, wonderful, farm memories will grow. Check our Paul’s latest video at BigGeorgeHamburger

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Fresh Facts

OFFMA members shine during the Award Season
It’s the awards season, not only do we hear about the Academy Awards, Golden Globe Awards and Juno Awards but many agricultural organizations have developed awards to recognize excellence in their particular field. In the last few months, OFFMA members are popping up as recognized winners around the province. We consider all our members winners but it is nice that other organizations are recognizing the fact that they are special. Here’s a glimpse of what makes some members stand out. “We produce a wide variety of the best quality vegetables using sustainable and organic farming practices.” Those words sum up the goal of the 2010 Ontario Outstanding Young Farmers, Steve and Lisa Cooper. The Coopers of Cooper’s CSA Farm and Maze near Zephyr, received the top honour at the provincial awards ceremony held in Belleville on Tuesday March 30th. The Coopers have been OFFMA members since 2005. Winners of this award are chosen based on career progress; environmental and safety practices; crop and livestock production history; financial and management practices; and contributions to society. The Coopers were chosen from a group of six farmers including Matt Fischer (Fischer Family Poultry, Listowel), Hugh and Arlene Hunter (Maple-Ain Dairy Farm, Smith Falls), Amy Strom –OFFMA member (Strom’s Sweet Corn and Pumpkins, Guelph), Anthony and Marg Sjaarda (Sjaarda Caprine Farms, Wyoming) and Katie Normet – OFFMA member, (River’s Edge Goat Dairy, Arthur). Steve and Lisa’s story began after meeting at the Ontario Agricultural College at the University of Guelph. Upon graduation, they took over the running of a family cattle and sweet corn business. They quickly realized that weather, low commodity prices and a diminishing cattle market were not going to provide them with financial stability nor meet their desire to farm full-time. In the late 1990’s they put in a market garden and delved into direct marketing by helping to establish farmers’ markets in Newmarket, Aurora, Uxbridge, Gravenhurst and Oshawa. Some of which they still attend as vendors today. In 2000, the cattle were sold and replaced with meat goats, and the cropping end of the farm was altered into growing a variety of vegetables and later an agri-tainment area with a corn maze, kids’ play area and fall festival and even more recently an expanded pick-yourown section. According to Steve Cooper, his AHHA moment came when a customer exclaimed, “What a great place. I would really like to be a part of this farm.” In 2007, the
OFFMA members Katie Normet, Lisa and Steve Cooper, and Amy and Channing Strom were all selected as semi-finalist at the recent Ontario Outstanding Young Farmers Award event held recently in Belleville, ON.

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Coopers entered into a Community Shared Agriculture program for the marketing of their fruits and vegetables. Fifty families signed up and paid to receive a weekly basket of vegetables for 20 weeks. In 2008, this was expanded to 235 families from all across the GTA. They continue to expand this aspect of their farm with the building of a small greenhouse and planting late spinach and greens in order to extend the growing season and now deliver food 23 weeks of the year. They have also added pasture beef and pasture raised broiler chickens to the product list. Steve attributes part of their success to ‘being on the right side of a trend.’ “We were really lucky to have had a business that we could quickly expand when the local food movement started to gain momentum”. As with many successful young farmers, Steve and Lisa understand that education and networking are critical to their success. They Have participated in many OFFMA workshops and several bus tours. Both Lisa and Steve are graduates of the Advanced Agricultural Leadership Program and have also completed the George Morris Centre’s C-Team program for farm business managers. John Steele, co-chair of the 2010 event noted that “the pride that these finalists had in their operations, and the love they had for their communities was very infectious. Spending time with such imaginative and successful young farmers reminds us all that farming is a rewarding occupation and we need to keep that in mind more as we deal with our daily challenges.” Steve and Lisa will now represent Ontario at the National Competition being held from November 18–23 in Victoria, British Columbia, where they will compete with other farmers from across Canada for the title of Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers. We wish them the best of luck and are proud of their provincial achievements.

Friend of the Greenbelt Award
As a part of the Greenbelt’s 5th anniversary celebrations, five Greenbelt farmers were recognized. Of the five winners, three are OFFMA members. Eric and Jennifer Bowman from Gallery on the Farm, Durham, were selected for their commitment to food and agricultural education initiatives. Karen and Doug Whitty from Whitty Farms Market, Niagara, were winners because of their commitment to the Niagara local food movement. Paul Gray from Dixie Orchards, Peel was recognized for his support of environmental and student nutritional projects. Congratulations to these farmers for their hard work, their creativity and their perseverance.

Marketing Tip
In most cases it takes a considerable amount of time and energy to successfully fill out application/nomination forms for the various awards that are presently being offered. If you are successful at being awarded the top prize it is important to get some return on your investment. Last year’s Outstanding Farm Market Winners, Colleen and Walter Pingle, planned to celebrate their win by hosting a huge ‘Awards Luncheon’ once their primary crops of asparagus and strawberries were ready to harvest. Invitations were printed and distributed, the media was invited and they worked with a chef to made delectable creations with their produce. The Award Logo has been on their website all year and the actual award itself is proudly displayed in their on-farm market. When you receive any sort of recognition make sure your customers and the media know about it. Your customers will be thrilled for you and the media will help spread the word to bring even more customers to your farm. Ultimately that’s what it is all about.

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Fresh Facts

Food Safety Risks Associated with Horticulture/Livestock Operations
Don Blakely, Food Safety Programs Branch, OMAFRA There is an emerging consumer preference to purchase fresh local food products at farmer markets and roadside farm stands. These products are grown on farms tending to be small in size and producing mixed commodities of fruits, vegetables, livestock and poultry. Many view these products as safer than those from large factory farms. This is not necessarily a valid assumption. Food safety, whether farms are small or large, is achieved by following good agricultural practices. Mixed farms, where both horticultural and animal products can be found, pose special risks. There are increased hazards from cross-contamination and steps must be taken to reduce those risks. Any farm where manure is produced or used must deal with the risks associated with pathogens such as E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella and Campylobacter. These pathogens pose a risk of serious illness if fruit or vegetables are contaminated. Here are some good agricultural practices to follow when fruit and vegetables are grown and harvested in proximity to livestock production: 1. Growing site - Ensure crops are grown on ground where no runoff occurs from livestock housing or pasture areas. 2. Use of manure and compost – As a rule never use fresh manure on land where you intent to harvest fruits and vegetables within 120 days. Manure must be properly composted before use to ensure pathogens are reduced to acceptable levels. 3. Irrigation water – Ensure water used to irrigate is free of hazardous pathogens. Be aware of hazards associated with your water source and test water before use. Employ drip irrigation to prevent water from getting on the surface of crops such as lettuce or spinach. 4. Traffic patterns and personal hygiene – Be aware that hazardous pathogens can be spread by manure on footwear and soiled hands. Limit movements between the livestock housing areas and vegetable growing areas unless footwear is changed or cleaned. Always wash your hands after contact with livestock and before handling any ready to eat harvested fruits and vegetables. 5. Harvesting – Ensure the tools used for harvesting such as knives are cleaned and that your harvested products are put into clean baskets and containers. Never let harvest containers sit on the ground. 6. Wash water – Washing produce is the most critical practice in preventing food safety hazards. Some fruits and vegetables can absorb water, and pathogens along with it, if the water temperature in dump tanks is too cold. If dump tanks are used, a small amount of contamination can be passed to all products. If water is recycled, there can be a five-fold increase in the amount of contaminated product. Test water before washing and treat it if necessary to kill pathogens. Treat all recycled wash water. It is required by law that the final rinse of fruit and vegetables must be potable. 7. Getting the Product to Market – Transport farm product in clean containers and vehicles. Display it away from any further possible crosscontamination. For example, do not set up a road side sale stand right next to a cattle pasture. Flies love cows and manure. They can easily transfer pathogens from manure to the fruits and vegetables in your sales stand Preventing food borne illness is vital. By following these good agricultural practices, a farmer can ensure consumers are confident they are purchasing healthy, nutritious farm produce.

OMAFRA takes food safety seriously

Check out the ministry’s web site for additional resources that can help you prevent, detect and control food safety risks.  Explore the Advantage Good Agricultural Practices Manual, templates available on the web  Find available funding  Attend training events For more information contact: 1-877-424-1300, Or

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Clovermead takes home top on-farm marketing prize
In 2007, Clovermead Bees and Honey was a Regional Award Winner of the Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence. In 2008, OFFMA nominated Clovermead for Ontario’s Outstanding Young Farmers’ Award and they won. In February, OFFMA recognized Clovermead with the Outstanding Farm Market Award. So what makes this business such a winner!! Chris and Christy Hiemstra learned early on that they would have to focus and create a unique experience in order to be successful. Having only 11 acres to work with they needed to make sure they focused their efforts on a specific product and because Chris grew up in a beekeeping environment, bees have always been near and dear to his heart, so they became the core of their company. The couple purchased the farm from Chris’ parents in 2000 and have grown it into one of the largest honey farms in Canada. People can visit the farm and buy honey, pollen and beeswax as well as enjoy the numerous displays and tour the attractions. Some of the things that make the Hiemstras’ business unique are: The annual bee beard competition. Yes, you read that correctly, a bee beard. Contestants are weighted before and after the contest to record how many bees they were able to attract to their face, head and neck. (Just seeing that is worth the price of admission.) According to the Hiemstras, the competition has been responsible for a lot of free media exposure and created many ‘WOW! Word of Mouth” moments. Once in the bee store, the fancy honey tanks help create a special winery feel and allow Clovermead to subtly suggest to customers that this is the best place to get their honey. They have six floral sources of honey on tap; such as Summer Blossom, Golden Rod and Bee’s Secret. Christy has also created new uses for honey with a line of eleven honey spreads. These are infused with flavours such as root beer, licorice, ginger, strawberry or amaretto to name a few. Clovermead also carries a line of honey salad dressings and honey mustards. They feel they are unique on Ontario’s countryside because they offer educational Buzz Tours and Bee Safaris. They also have an enchanted bee yard trail, a bee discovery station and ‘the birds and the bees’ themed flower gardens. Maybe it’s the product but they have also become masters at developing puns and saying around honey, from ‘cutting sweet deals’ to holding an ‘un-bee-lievable’ festival they take it all in stride and remain humble as the awards shelf grows larger and heavier. Congratulations!

A brave, bee beard contestant

Stainless steel honey tanks create an upscale ambiance.

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Fresh Facts

Upcoming Events
April tbd Food Handlers’ Certification Course—we are running into challenges with this program, as soon as we have some information we will send an e-mail out to members Beyond the City Lights, Smith & Wilson Winery, Blenheim, ON Contact: Chatham Kent Tourism, 1-800-561-6125 Beyond the City Lights, Brooklea Golf and Country Club, Midland, ON Contact: South Georgian Bay Chamber of Commerce, 705-526-7884 Comprehensive Elderberry Conference & Farm Tour, Jefferson City & Hartsburg, Missouri For more info contact terry Durham at 573-999-3034 or visit Annual Potluck Social at Whitty Farms, St. Catharines Bus Tour in Central Ontario, contact Cathy Bartolic at 905-841-9278

April 13 & 14 Ontario Farm Fresh
Cathy Bartolic, Executive Director 2002 Vandorf Rd. Aurora, ON L4G 7B9 Phone: 905-841-9278 Fax: 905-726-3369 E-mail: 2010-11 OFFMA Board of Directors Amy Strom, President Strom’s Farm Jesse Lauzon, Vice President Springridge Farm Mark Saunders, Past President Saunders Farm Paul Brooks, Brooks Farms Jay Howell, Brantview Apples & Cider Anne Just, Kurtz Orchards Marg Land, Annex Publishing (Associate Member) Colleen Pingle, Pingle’s Farm Market Geri Rounds, Rounds Ranch Steve Smith, Smith’s Apples Dorene Collins, OMAFRA (Advisor to the Board)

April 28 June 17 & 18

August 11 Nov. 7-9

April 4-7, 2011 Bus Tour to UK, contact Cathy Bartolic at 905-841-9278

Jane Eckert Consultations
OFFMA is bringing Jane Eckert back to do one-onone consultations again this summer. We are looking at the second half of August. If you are interested in this opportunity, let the office know. Jane is particularly interested in working with small or start up businesses who are looking for some guidance on how they can increase their revenue.

Social Media Workshops
OFFMA will be offering a Social Media Workshop in SW and Eastern Ontario in May and July respectively. Info will be shared a soon as it becomes available. Seating will be limited.