Farms, Farming and Food

Food and Agriculture in the Maritimes, Canada and around the world

New Brunswick Open Farm Day 2008

  • September
  • 19

New Brunswick Open Farm Day for 2008 has been scheduled for September 21st, 2008.

Open Farm Day

Every year in the fall, the NB Department of Agriculture and Aquaculture, along with the agricultural alliance of NB with support from the Sobey’s supermarket chain have an Open Farm Day. In the spirit of Doors Open, this is an opportunity for the public to tour and get a glimpse of operating farms and food related operations. It also allows the public to gain an appreciation for the food chain and how some of the food arrives at the table.

There are several interesting farms which will be opened to visitor for guided tours and open discussions.

St. George

A new tour being given this year at Open Farm Days are will be boat tours of salmon aquaculture pens in the Bay of Funday near St. George. The New Brunswick Salmon Growers Association is hosting these tours and there will be two tours departing at 1pm and 3pm. Reservations are available.

Sussex Area

Ara-li Acres which is a horse breeding hobby farm north of Sussex. Tours of the farm and of the farm’s Morgan horses will be available to the public.

Waldow Farms Ltd. a dairy farm with 160 milking cows and a total of 360 to 400 animals will be giving tours of their farm and allow the public to watch the cows being milked.

Sussex will have two activities as the Agricultural Museum in Sussex will be giving free museum tours from 12:00 until 4:00 and there will also be New Brunswick beef expo at the Princess Louise Show Centre.

Motts Landing Vineyard will be giving tours of their 6 acre vineyard near Cambridge-Narrows.

Moncton Area

Speaking of wine, Magnetic Hill Winery will be giving winery tours as well as conducting sampling sessions.

In Memramcook, the Bourgeois farm will have winery tours as well as have a U-pick operation at its apple and fruit orchard.

Glarro Farm in Petitcodiac will have wagon rides and farm tours of their beef farm

Fredericton Area

Scott’s Nursery one of the largest nurseries in New Brunswick with over 6 acres of greenhouses will be conducting tours of its operations throughout the day.

Coburn Farms in Keswick will be conducting tours of its egg, grain and cider operations throughout the afternoon.

One of Atlantic Canada’s first certified organic farms Good Spring Farm will have tours of their poultry and vegetable operations.

The Apple Bin is a store located in Keswick Ridge which sells exclusively New Brunswick produce and farm products will have an exhibition on Canadian Heritage apple and potato displays as well as having fresh local produce for sale.

Donnelly Holsteins near Lake George milks 42 Holstein cows and will have tours of the farm as well as walking trails into nearby woods.

Schotanus Farm near Hanwell will have demonstrations on planting tulips as well as honey bees, small fruits and apples.

Everett Orchard in Island View on route 102 is a 7 acres apple orchard which will have a U-Pick opened up for families and the rest of the interested public.

The Double Oord dairy farm in Springfield on route 615 will have tours of its farm as well as milking demonstrations of its 100 head cattle herd.

In Hoyt, New Brunswick (just south of Fredericton on the 101) is Freshet Farms which is a 200 acres dairy farm will have tours. They also have an onsite playground.

Others farms and more info

There are other farms and food producers involved in Open Farm Day in the Upper Saint John river valley and northern New Brunswick.

For more info, there is a PDF available with a map of locations and more details on each farm at

The map can also be found at local Sobeys supermarkets in New Brunswick.

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Looking for some lemon meringue pie?

  • September
  • 10

If you are looking for some lemon meringue pie or just about anything else that uses lemons, be prepared to have to hunt it down as you might have a hard time finding it. You might want to get your wallet ready too as a shortage of lemons (and lemon juice) has pushed prices for the fresh fruit up by more than double.

Due to a combination or drought and frost in the primary lemon growing regions of southern Europe, California and Arizona lemon suppliers do not have adequate supplies and the first to feel the shortage seems to be the lemon juice producers.

See: – Lemon juice scarcity sends prices soaring.

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Province announces $850,000 in support of agriculture

  • August
  • 16

In late July, the New Brunswick government announced a large funding initiative for the agricultural sector. Totalling up to $850,000 the funds will be divided between several different programs in the following manner:

  • Livestock genetic enhancement initiative – $300,000
  • Honeybee expansion initiative – $150,000
  • Apple development initiative – $100,000
  • Organic development initiative – $90,000
  • Strategic projects – $60,000

All of the programs aim to increase the competitiveness of New Brunswick farmers and helping them increase their productivity by either improving their land or their crops.

There are more details and application forms at

Combined with previously announced funding of agricultural initiative of over $750,000 it appears that the New Brunswick Liberals led by Shawn Graham are really looking to push agriculture forward in this province.

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Using RFID to track produce from farm to plate

  • August
  • 7

In April, the Hawaii Department of Agriculture started a three year pilot program which is attempting to trace and track produce (tomatoes in the pilot) using RFID tags. The tags are not attached directly to the tomatoes but to the boxes in which the tomatoes are shipped from the farm.

The intent is to have a record of the produce’s location and therefore be able to trace produce through the food distribution chain. By having such traceability, it would be easy to quickly isolate and contain food contamination such as the recent salmonella outbreaks in the United States.

If successful, this technology could help reliably track shipments of produce, meat and other goods through our food system. Despite probable objections to opening up this kind of data, if it was made available to consumers, it would give us the ability to see where our food really comes from.

1 commentfood safety

Farmers’ Share of Food Dollar

  • July
  • 24

How much of the money that you spend at the grocery store ends up in the farmer’s pockets?

According to the article “Farmers’ Share of Food Dollar” on Envirovore, not much. The story claims that on average, 20% of every dollar goes to the farmer. Obviously, the percentage will vary greatly based on product and how much marketing, manufacturing and processing is required. For example, $10 worth of potato chips will bring less money to the farm than $10 worth of potatoes as the chips require additional processing and other costs.

Mind you, the volume of food and therefore the effort required by the farmer, needed for $10 worth of potatoes is much greater than for the potato chips. The processors of the potatoes do add value and in doing so raise the value of the final product.

All things being equal however, there is a large amount of additional mark-up that is consumed by middle men in the food distribution chain. The retailer, the distributor and the shipper all take a cut of each dollar that you spend on food at the grocery store.

How to maximize returns to the farmer?

One approach to increasing the percentage of your money getting back onto the farm is to purchase products directly from the farm. Many farms now how retail stands and many more have a presence at local farmer’s markets. By buying directly from the farmer, the middle men in the food distribution chain get bypassed and replaced by the farmer as they are providing the packaging, the transportation and retailing to you directly.

Community Supported Agriculture

Another option which allow you to buy directly from farmers is a Community Supported (or Shared) Agriculture (CSA) program. CSA programs allow consumers to “subscribe” to a farm and get a periodic (often weekly) delivery (or pick up) of food from the farm when the produce is ready.

Unfortunately CSA programs are not always widely available. For example, in New Brunswick, the only CSA farm that I am aware of is the Bantry Bay Farm which is located near St. Andrews, New Brunswick.

Buying locally

Even when buying food from the large supermarket chains, it is possible to increase the percentage of your food dollars ending up on the farm. By buying locally grown and made products, you minimize the amount of money being spent on transportation and shipping. As addition to buying locally produced foods, buying less processed foods will also increase the amount of money being sent to farms and farmers as there less middle men in the food distribution chain and there is also less money spent on processing food. Besides, buying less processed foods is probably much healthier for you too.

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New Brunswick orchards and vineyards receive investment from government

  • June
  • 27

Earlier this week, the provincial agriculture minister Ronald Ouellette and Fundy Royal MP Rob Moore announced an initiative directed at New Brunswick’s orchards and vineyards. Up to $772,680 ($309,000 provincial – $463,680 federal) will be made available to fruit tree and vineyard owners across the province who wish to transition existing grape vines and fruit trees to new varieties.

Adapting to a changing marketplace

As in fashion, food trends flourish and fade out. Apple varieties such as McIntosh are no longer as popular as they once were while new varieties such as Honeycrisp are in high demand and can extract premium prices from consumers and retailers. By removing rejuvenating orchards with newer crops, growers are able to keep pace with market demand and thus are more likely remain competitive and to be able to make a profit.

Ripping up old fruit trees and vineyards however is a costly endeavour. Not only is the labour required to remove old trees and vines needed but the is a considerable cost and effort to replant and to tend for new vines and trees as they grow and mature. There is also an added cost of land that is not producing fruit for at least a few years while the new varieties develop.

Encouraging new varieties

In an effort to encourage farmers to adapt to changing market conditions, the provincial and federal governments have combined to fund up to $4000 per hectare of land that has been ripped up and replanted. It is not clear if there are restrictions on what varieties can be replanted but it would definitely be in the farmer’s best interest to replant varieties that are in high demand.


In order to be eligible for the government program, farmers must have at least 0.25 hectares (or 0.60 acres) in production. In addition, farmers must commit to keeping the land that is being replanted in agriculture for at least 5 years. I doubt that either of these conditions to be an issue as newly planted orchards and vineyards will take some time to establish themselves and produce.

Apple growers only?

Is this program only for apple growers? The only significant industry for fruit orchards in New Brunswick are apples and while there is a growing grape growing industry forming, since it is still in its infancy in New Brunswick, it is unlikely that farmers will be looking to replant vines anytime soon. By including all fruit orchards and vineyards, the government is being inclusive and ensuring that no group feels excluded but I would be very surprised if more than 5% of the money spent on this program is given to non-apple growers.

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Fighting over chicken processing in New Brunswick

  • June
  • 17

The battle is brewing over chicken processing in New Brunswick.

The Players

In one corner is the long established Nadeau Maple Lodge (owned by Ontario based parent company Maple Lodge Farms) who currently operates New Brunswick’s only chicken processing facility in the northern New Brunswick community of St. Francois de Madawaska.

In the other corner is Groupe Westco who is a major poultry production group and holds a large amount of the chicken production quota (around 50%) for the province. Joining Groupe Westco in this corner is Olymel, Canada’s largest poultry and pork processor based in Quebec.

Round 1 : Attempted Buyout

Groupe Westco in an effort to assert control over the chicken vertical from egg to plate, made an offer to purchase Nadeau’s chicken processing facility. Nadeau countered that the offer made by Groupe Westco was more of a threat in order to acquire its facilities at reduced price. The claim being that Westco threatened to stop sending any of its chickens to Nadeau if it did not agree to the buyout. Nadeau refused to sell its processing assets to Westco.

Round 2 : Threats

After being rebuffed by Nadeau Poultry, Groupe Westco formed a partnership with Quebec’s Olymel. The goal of the partnership is to build a slaughterhouse in St. Francois in order to process Groupe Westco’s chickens. Until the facility is completed, Westco plans to ship its quota of chickens to an Olymel processing plant in Quebec beginning in July.

Many people including Nadeau claim that Groupe Westco’s actions are anti-competitive and Nadeau Maple Lodge has even filed a complaint with Canada’s competition tribunal. More importantly, many worry about whether the plans for a new processing facility is simply a negotiating tactic on Westco’s behalf in order to acquire the Nadeau slaughterhouse. The other concern is that by shipping chickens to Quebec for processing, processing jobs at the Nadeau plant would be lost to Quebec.

Round 3: Government gets involved

At the beginning of June, the government of New Brunswick amended some legislation in order to allow the government to enforce, if needed, a temporary halt of out of province chicken shipments. This amendment is intended to promote some stability in the sector. Westco is claiming that the government is interfering with the free market and favouring one producer over another.

I think that the provincial gov’t fears that if poultry is taken out of province for processing, not only does it take processing jobs out of the province but that it may put Nadeau Maple Lodge out of business which could cause even more damage to an already fragile northern New Brunswick economy.

It will be interesting to see which way the feathers fly….

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Salmonella and the tomato industry

  • June
  • 12

The tomato industry appears to be headed for some tough times after the recent rash of salmonella poisoning cases in the United States. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has linked the salmonella cases to certain raw tomatoes. Tomato varieties which appear to be of concern are raw red plum tomatoes, raw red Roma tomatoes and raw red round tomatoes. The FDA has also listed certain jurisdictions which are not associated with the contaminated tomatoes. Luckily this list includes the whole country of Canada.

The Impact to Farmers

Tomato growers are understandably quite concerned about this outbreak and what the impact will be on their business. Farmers in the affected areas will be greatly impacted as purchases from their states or areas will be effectively banned until the precise point of contamination can be identified. Farmers in certain areas are likely to have to let tomatoes rot on the vine as they cannot sell any produce they were to pick and package.

Short term, there is a large hit as a majority of restaurants have pulled tomatoes from their offerings and many grocery stores have also stopped selling certain types of tomatoes. The industry as a whole will definitely feel a longer term impact however as the leery consumer is likely to veer away from tomatoes until confidence in its safety can be restored. The spinach industry is still trying to recover from a decrease in consumption after an e.coli outbreak occurred in 2006.

Preventing future outbreaks


One of the frustrating issues with a food safety issue such as this salmonella poisoning case is the amount of time which it takes to isolate the source of the contamination. By necessitating traceability, food safety agencies and consumers themselves, could more easily trace contaminated to food back to its origin. The quicker the source of the outbreak can be identified and isolated, the easier it is to prevent or stop the spread of the outbreak.

In my opinion it should be possible to trace back produce to the farm on which it was grown. Currently that is nearly impossible as large packaging companies and marketing companies combine produce from many different sources and distribute it to a multitude of locations so there is no telling where the tomato you buy in the store was grown. There are typically country of origin but there are quite a few farms spread out across the country.

Buying local

The other approach is to limit large scale distribution of food by encouraging consumers to buy local produce. In this fashion, any outbreak would be restricted to a local population which would simplify the identification and isolation of the contamination source.

Hopefully the salmonella source will be quickly isolated and the impact on the industry will be short lived. Perhaps some people will start to critically examine their food and the entire agricultural industry instead of taking food for granted.

1 commentfood safety

Farms, Farming and Food

  • June
  • 4

This is a new blog dedicated to food and agriculture. As the blog is based in Fredericton, New Brunswick the blog will cover some local and regional issues and stories. The Food, Food, Food blog will also examine agriculture and food related issues across Canada and around the world.

Some of the issue that I intend to cover include :

  • Trends in agriculture including the rise of the ethanol and biofuels industry and its impact on farmers
  • Trends in food retailing practices and their impacts on farmers and family farms
  • Consumer movements such as the eating local movement and changes in nutrition fads
  • International food activities including the rise of the Chinese food processing and exporting market, the recent changes to the Asian diet and the discrepancies in farm subsidies amongst various countries
  • Industry profiles such as the dairy industry in New Brunswick or the cranberry industry across Canada
  • Company profiles and their impact on the agriculture and food industries

I hope that I can provide valuable information and generate some interesting discussions and ideas and if you have any suggestions for discussion or topics to post, please feel free to contact me or post a comment on the blog.

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