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