Latest articles


Finding the right niche

If it makes you shake your head that these two large, sophisticated farms are focusing on, of all things, sweet potatoes as the right crop to build their futures on, listen to them explain why

In just a couple of pockets across the country, it’s estimated Canada is growing about 1,800 acres of sweet potatoes. About 1,100 of them are grown by Berlo’s Best. Why? The reason is partly what you might expect. Canadian demand for sweet potatoes has skyrocketed. Ethnic markets are booming, sales of new products like sweet […] Read more


Their big idea

As Mike Kosaka and Adriane Skaros are learning, it takes determination, toughness, and plenty of smarts to succeed as a local-food startup. How many smarts? Well, read on

Young Zoe Jones and Ava Kosaka have sized me up. The girls are ultra-enthusiastic entrepreneurs. They’ve got a marketing plan, they’ve perfected their product, and — just weeks into production — they’re already watching the dollars roll in. Of course, the girls may be only seven and nine years old, respectively, but they already know […] Read more



Unconventional

Maybe it’s time to take Canada’s new crop of non-conventional farmers a lot more seriously

Change is coming to Canadian agriculture, and judging by the numbers, it’s coming fast. Our country’s food supply, our rural landscape, much of our GDP and a major part of our national identity all depend on Canadian farmers. But the average age of those farmers has now reached 55, with more farmers over 70 years […] Read more


Growing potatoes without chemicals

Organic potato production on a commercial scale is a challenge, but one Ontario grower is meeting it

Isaiah Swidersky offers a careful answer when asked if organic potato production is a risk worth taking. “To some degree it is, but there’s a reason I haven’t expanded it to 200 or 300 acres,” Swidersky says. “It’s a challenge to grow organic potatoes. But I’m optimistic. It’s a good challenge.” Swidersky’s operation, Rose Mountain […] Read more



Farm feedback

On this savvy farm, feedback is mined for real value, producing a happier, more efficient workforce

On the farm, we’ve heard the jokes about feedback being a load of barley that gets rejected at the elevator, or maybe it’s how a cow chews her cud. In bizspeak, though, feedback gets taken a lot more seriously than that. As a human resources strategy, feedback is gaining global attention because of the power […] Read more


A different school

For Vance Lester and Sue Echlin, getting a non-agricultural education proved a big help when they returned to the farm

Graduate degrees in ecology and international relations don’t seem the kind of education that would be likely to help on a Canadian farm. But that’s where we might be wrong. For Sue Echlin and Vance Lester, that kind of schooling has been instrumental in their launching a fruit-growing and winery business, and in keeping it […] Read more



Africa feeding Africa

While North America’s farmers pin their career hopes on the need to feed a hungry Africa, that continent’s farmers are making plans of their own

A core belief in North American agriculture is that our farmers must produce ever more food if we are to have any hope of feeding the world, particularly areas like Africa where the population is growing so rapidly. The numbers are indeed staggering. According to the Population Reference Bureau, Africa’s population will hit 2.5 billion […] Read more


Maritime potato harvest a pleasant surprise

Late-season rains gave the crop a lift, but access to irrigation remains a concern for Island growers

The 2016 harvest in the country’s largest potato-producing province proved to be a pleasant surprise. By mid-August, many growers in Prince Edward Island were starting to brace for a below-average harvest. A dry summer saw much of the crop, especially in the central part of the province, slow to size up and problems with both […] Read more



crop spraying potatoes

Pesticide review a huge issue for horticulture sector

Time of worker re-entry after application and use of protective equipment are stumbling blocks

Canada’s horticultural growers say they’re concerned about a review of many of the broad-spectrum crop protection chemistries they’ve relied on for years. The Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) is conducting the review, with a final outcome due in 2018. That gives growers and other industry stakeholders the rest of 2017 to strengthen their arguments and […] Read more


Alberta potatoes mostly escape the deluge of 2016

A bit of luck, combined with tile drainage, helped Alberta potato growers survive the province’s wet 2016 season

For Alberta potato growers, the 2015 and 2016 growing seasons could not have been more different — hot and dry followed by cold and wet. Despite that, 2016 yields were more or less consistent with the past several years. “Our acres are flat — they have been for the past couple of years,” says Terence […] Read more