Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Province Invests $1.4 Million in Ridgetown Campus

GUELPH, Ontario May 24, 2011 - University of Guelph News Release

The University of Guelph’s Ridgetown Campus — experiencing the highest enrolment in its 60 years — has received more than $1.4 million from the provincial government for a new student service and recruitment centre.

The funding was announced today in Ridgetown, Ont., by Pat Hoy, MPP for Chatham-Kent-Essex, and John Milloy, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities.

“Ontario’s economy is turning the corner to a better tomorrow, and the McGuinty government’s investment in the Ridgetown Campus is an investment in Ontario’s future prosperity,” Milloy said.

Hoy added: “I’m pleased that the McGuinty government continues to invest heavily in the Ridgetown community. Today’s announcement builds on the millions of dollars of wise funding we’ve delivered for this community and this region.”

The new centre has also received support from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), the Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario (ARIO), and the Ridgetown Campus Agri-Food Foundation.

“This is an investment that will have a resounding impact,” said U of G president Alastair Summerlee. “The Ridgetown Campus is an innovation hub and a driving force in the regional economy. We are extremely grateful to the provincial government for this assistance; the timing could not be better.”

Enrolment at the Ridgetown Campus has increased by unprecedented levels — 30 per cent in the past three years alone. The campus will see its largest-ever graduating class in June, and the trend is expected to continue.

“Ridgetown is proving to be an attractive option for students across Ontario, especially during this period of a changing economy,” Summerlee said. “Our goal is providing our students with the best possible teaching and learning environment.”

As part of U of G’s Ontario Agricultural College (OAC), the Ridgetown Campus offers degree, diploma and certificate programs supporting agriculture, food, veterinary technology and environmental management. Enrolment in the agriculture diploma programs has nearly doubled in the past two years, and the campus forecasts additional growth.

“This new facility will allow us to further enhance the quality of the educational experience that we deliver to our students and also support the greater demands for classroom space and services on the campus,” said Rob Gordon, OAC dean.

The building will double as a careers centre and as a welcome venue for prospective students and their parents. It will also hold conferences and other campus and community events. The project will combine new construction and renovation that will make better use of the existing Reek Administration Building.

The Ridgetown Campus Agri-Food Foundation will continue working with the campus to raise funds for the centre’s construction, which will cost about $3.2 million.

Ridgetown numbers about 700 students, 10 professional faculty and 130 staff. The campus joined U of G in 1997 under the enhanced partnership between the University and OMAFRA. Campus facilities are owned by ARIO and supported financially by both OMAFRA and ARIO.

“It’s a unique collaboration,” said Rich Moccia, associate vice-president (strategic partnerships). “The synergy is enhancing and advancing education and training opportunities in the agri-food and veterinary field to the benefit of all Ontarians.”

New premium Sundown pear is a made-in-Canada success story

Agreement between Vineland Growers Cooperative and Vineland Research and Innovation Centre will make new pear available to growers in eastern Canada

VINELAND, Ontario, May 25, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - Today Vineland Growers Cooperative (Cooperative) and Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland) announce a groundbreaking agreement for the production of a new variety of pear called the "Harovin Sundown Pear" in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes.

The pear, developed by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, will be an outstanding addition to both the orchard and the retail shelf. A delicious variety with light green skin, firm flesh and a unique sweetness, it will be a guaranteed winner with consumers. Growers will also be interested in the pear's fire blight tolerance, winter hardiness, post harvest storage life, and yield characteristics.

In 2009, Vineland received global marketing and commercialization rights for the Sundown Pear and has since been exploring marketing opportunities in Canada and other regions around the world. This agreement with the Cooperative is the first production and harvesting agreement of its kind.

"We are delighted to strike this agreement with the Cooperative. To stay competitive, the Canadian industry needs to forge new types of marketing alliances that will secure premium markets and increase grower margins. The agreement between Vineland and the Cooperative will allow this to happen. The Cooperative is already a trusted marketer with well established retail agreements in eastern Canada and coordination for over 70% of the pear production in Ontario," said Jim Brandle, CEO Vineland.

In 2010, the Industry Fifteen Year Strategic Plan, sponsored by the Government of Ontario, clearly indicated the need to make changes to improve industry profitability and called on industry leaders to drive a new approach to providing the end consumer with premium quality fruit.

Initial research led by Vineland's Dr. Isabelle Lesschaeve in 2009 demonstrated that the Sundown Pear was received favourably in consumer trials.

Mike Ecker, of Vineland Growers Cooperative, commented,
"I love this pear. Finally growers will have access to a new variety with excellent agronomic and consumer traits that was not only developed in Canada but shows every potential to compete successfully against imports. Our major retail partners are looking for new varieties of great tasting, locally-grown fruit, and we can deliver."

Growers interested in producing Sundown pears should contact the Cooperative directly. Sub-licensing opportunities are also available through Vineland for areas outside of Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes. Small volumes of pears will reach retail stores this summer.

About Vineland Growers Cooperative

The Cooperative was established in 1913 and is governed by a Board of Directors. The Cooperative provides member growers and non-member growers with a tender fruit and fresh market grape sales service selling fruit across Canada with a particularly strong presence in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes. The Cooperative sells over 55% of the Ontario tender fruit crop and is the major tender fruit packer in eastern Canada.

About Vineland Research and Innovation Centre

Vineland Research and Innovation Centre is an independent, not-for-profit organization that was created to be a world-class centre for horticultural science and innovation. In its capacity to enable and foster relationships with industry, academia and government, Vineland works to deliver premium product and production innovations. Vineland brings a global perspective to the Canadian horticulture industry and offers a broad range of lasting benefits to stakeholders both locally and internationally. Aligned with industry needs, Vineland's research priorities and outcomes are focused on the growth of the entire horticulture industry. Vineland is funded in part by Growing Forward, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Spiders Feeling The Bite of Human Encroachment on Habitat

Photo by cygnus921 via Flickr CC

by Jaymi Heimbuch, San Francisco, California

That old phrase tossed out by parents at fearful children about spiders, "They're more afraid of you than you are of them," has never been more true, at least according to researchers from the King Juan Carlos University (URJC) who have found that spiders, like many other animal species, are suffering from habitat loss and human encroachment.

Typically we think of mammals, reptiles and insects like butterflies that feel the strain from loss of habitat. We don't usually think about spiders since they so often seem to make our houses and buildings their own homes. But research published in Biological Conservation states otherwise. Spiders do indeed suffer from human activity the same as any other living species, reports a press release from the university.

"The abundance and number of spider species is negatively affected by the impact of many human land uses, such as habitat fragmentation, fire and pesticides", Samuel Prieto-Benítez and Marcos Méndez, researchers at the URJC Biodiversity and Conservation Department, tell SINC.

Much of the reason for the oversight is simply because there are few spider species on Red Lists of threatened species, and because fewer than 20% of studies show a harmful effect on arachnids. However, when looking at farmland, pastureland and woodland, it is clear that farming and pasture practices can have a harmful effect on our eight-legged friends through change in plant life as well as insecticides. In woodlands, it is habitat fragmentation that harms the species.

Spiders are incredibly important species, helping with everything from insect control to inspiration for biomimetic inspirations like dew catchers and bird-friendly glass. But they too suffer from human impacts on the planet, even down to climate change. For example, brown recluse spiders are spreading out to new territory across the US as a result of climate change. It should be no surprise that habitat loss also impacts spider species around the globe.

For those farmers who advocate for more natural growing practices, the conclusions of the study for how to help spiders will be a no-brainer -- reduced use of insecticides as well as more biodiversity among plantlife and less habitat fragmentation... read more story on

Friday, May 20, 2011

Farming & Countryside Education

Farming & Countryside Education Website:

Farming and Countryside Education (FACE) is a British not-for-profit organization whose website states that it is concerned about the "way children, young people, and their families, have become disassociated from where their food comes from."

Through farm visits, research, and curriculum support, FACE's "aim is to educate children and young people about food and farming in a sustainable countryside."

The "Resources" section of the FACE website has a lot to offer visitors of every age, profession, and education level. There are the printable "3D Model Farm Animals" and the "TractorPuzzles" for young kids. Adult visitors will enjoy the thought-provoking BBC News article entitled "Farming Life: A Family Tradition", about the views of a family of farmers.

Educators will find that the "Farm Behind the Food" online resource is packed with 50 classroom activities created by educators. These classroom activities address such issues as understanding food labels and children making choices about what they eat. [KMG]

>From The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout 1994-2011.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Wind energy drives jobs and local benefits at prices that are competitive with other new sources of electricity

OTTAWA, May 10, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - Investments in wind energy are creating thousands of jobs, driving hundreds of millions of dollars in economic benefits for rural communities, and creating a cleaner environment - at prices that are competitive with other new sources of electricity, says the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) in response to recent statements about the cost of electricity by Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak.

"Ontarians are not paying more for clean energy, they are paying more for new energy," said Robert Hornung, president of the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA). "Utilities around the world are investing in wind energy because it has already demonstrated it is cost competitive with a number of technologies and will become even more cost-competitive in the future. Over the long term, the cost of wind energy is projected to continue to decline while the costs of other technologies are projected to grow in response to increased fuel costs or environmental regulations like carbon pricing."

While it is true that the price of electricity in Ontario is rising, this price increase is the product of several factors, explained Hornung, including the need for investments in new electricity supply and infrastructure to ensure a safe, reliable and more environmentally sustainable electricity system in Ontario.

"The recent price hikes we have seen in Ontario have nothing to do with the prices being paid for new wind energy generation under the Green Energy Act, as only a very small number of projects are operating at this time," he added. "Transparency, competition and future lower prices are principles our industry can work with, but let's ensure we're all starting with the same facts."

CanWEA is the voice of the wind energy industry, actively promoting the responsible and sustainable growth of wind energy throughout Canada on behalf of its more than 400 members. A national non-profit association, CanWEA serves as Canada's leading source of credible information about wind energy and its social, economic and environmental benefits. The document Wind Vision 2025 - Powering Canada's Future is available at

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Canadian Grocery HR Council to Speak on Employment Trends in Grocery at Growing the Food Continuum in Guelph

TORONTO, May 11, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - The Canadian Grocery HR Council (CGHRC) will be participating in a speaker session on the future of employment in the grocery, agriculture, and food processing sectors, at Growing the Food Continuum, hosted by the Workforce Planning Board of Waterloo Wellington Dufferin, on May 12, 2011, in Guelph, Ontario.

Patricia Parulekar, Executive Director of the CGHRC, will discuss human resource trends, future needs of the industry, and services provided by the CGHRC. "We're participating in this initiative to talk about the demographics and impact that business trends will have on the labour market, and how we can help address these challenges together," says Parulekar.

For more information on the Growing the Food Continuum event, go to:

When: May 11, 2011 to May 12, 2011

Where: Delta Hotel & Conference Centre

Address: 50 Stone Road West, Guelph

Admission Price: $165

Where to buy tickets:

Established in 2003, the Canadian Grocery HR Council (CGHRC) is a nationally recognized, non-profit organization funded by the Government of Canada's Sector Council Program that brings together representatives from business, labour, education, industry associations, government and other professional groups to provide information and solutions in response to the food retail/wholesale industry's human resource challenges.

The following organizations are the members of the CGHRC: Loblaw Companies Ltd, Metro Ontario Inc, Sobeys Inc, Canada Safeway Ltd., Overwaitea Food Group LP, Coleman Group of Companies, Co-op Atlantic, UFCW Canada, Teamsters Canada, the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers (CFIG) and Association des détaillants en alimentation du Québec (A.D.A).