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Atlantic Canadian Organic Regional Network


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The story of Acadia wheat at the ACORN Conference

Even though it’s been two weeks since the 14th Annual ACORN Conference & Trade Show, we here at the ACORN office are still reeling with happiness at the success of the event!

With jam-packed schedules each day, we realize there is only so much information our conference attendees can take in, so we’ve saved this story for now.

You may have tried some of the delicious samples fresh from the oven that Speerville was circulating on Thursday around the trade show. But you probably didn’t get the full story of the bread, and it’s a pretty great example of the connections in our Atlantic organic community.

The bread Speerville was sharing was – beyond being delicious – noteworthy for a couple reasons. First, it was the “re-debut” of a heritage wheat variety known as Acadia and second, because the entire organic value chain involved in creating the bread was present at the conference!

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The people who brought Acadia wheat bread to the conference (left to right): the producer, Mark Bernard of Barnyard Organics; the baker, Tegan Wong-Daugherty; and the millers, the Speerville Flour Mill crew.

It was apparently at a past ACORN Conference where Mark Bernard of Barnyard Organics (PEI) got to talking about heritage wheat varieties with the folks at Speerville Flour Mill. A mutual passion for diverse, regionally-bred, climate-adaptable varieties led to the Bernards experimenting with the Acadia variety.

Acadia was one of the most prominent varieties of bread wheat grown in the Maritimes in the 1950s, a time when the region was much more self-sufficient in wheat production. As with most other crops, the varietal diversity of wheat has decreased over the decades to focus only on high yields at a large scale, often at the cost of nutrition and flavour.

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Tegan also led a great hands-on sourdough bread-making workshop that saw participants make some of the buns featured at our lunch on Friday!

With the most successful harvest of Acadia wheat yet this year for Barnyard Organics, Speerville milled the grain. Of course, the bread would not have come to be without a baker – and we were fortunate to have Tegan Wong-Daugherty at the conference baking bread just right outside the hotel in Speerville’s Panyol wood-fired oven.

Thanks to everyone involved in making this unique contribution to the ACORN Conference a reality – we all look forward to the future possibilities!


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Multi Shelter Solutions helps local food bank extend the season!

Less than 30 days remain until the ACORN’s 14th Annual Conference & Trade Show “Cultivating Organic Resilience” – taking place this year at the lovely Delta Beauséjour in downtown Moncton, NB!

This past March, ACORN hosted our Greenhouse Conference at the Delta and the staff were so helpful, enthusiastic and supportive of ACORN that we are excited to be working with them again to host what is sure to be a great conference.

ACORN conferences are a fun and educational way to connect with other organic producers and consumers from across Atlantic Canada and beyond.  Stronger connections lead to stronger communities and a greater organic resilience in the region.

Norm  Eygenraam proved this at our Greenhouse Conference last February.  Norm, the President of Multi Shelter photo(3)Solutions was so impressed by the West End Food Bank’s Garden of Hope Project he offered to donate a greenhouse to the project.  The Garden had just completed construction on a new greenhouse and so thoughtfully asked if they could pass on the generous gift to another food project in the area.  Foods of the Fundy Valley, a non-profit organization dedicated to the production and consumption of local goods in Albert County, gratefully accepted the greenhouse for their garden club at the Riverside Consolidated School in Riverside-Albert.  Now that their growing season has been extended, they plan to share their bounty by cooking hot lunches for the kids, and donating any excess to the Shepody Food Bank.

We at ACORN would like to say an official and public THANK YOU!  to Norm and his generous contribution to food production in New Brunswick.

Be sure to chat with Norm and the rest of our supportive Trade Show partners at the Delta Beauséjour – November 20th – 22nd.

Blog post written by Tara Scott, ACORN’s Organic Transition Coordinator, who can be reached by email at transition@acornorganic.org. For conference details visit www.acornconference.org.


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Organic Week Blog Series #5: The Heartwood

The Heartwood puts a lot of heart into promoting organics! Established in 1995 by Laura Bishop out of a love for baking and whole foods, the restaurant has consistently prepared the healthiest foods with a strong focus on organics. Carrie Surrette was drawn to these principles and has been proud to serve organic food in the bakery & café ever since she took over Heartwood a year and a half ago.

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Carrie Surrette is owner of The Heartwood Restaurant in Halifax

Organic has always been a clear cut choice for Carrie, a lifestyle she can strongly back and believe in. “Organic is taste,” says Carrie. “The staggering difference in taste between organic and conventional food should be acknowledged more often.” Heartwood often receives feedback on the exceptionally high quality of food from customers unfamiliar with organic food. “I find this encouraging that my efforts are recognized, I strive to offer the freshest and most delicious meal possible to every customer, and I do this by choosing local and organic.” Not only does the taste factor make this an easy decision, the environmental footprint and Carrie’s continuous support for local organic producers truly solidify her passion.

With so many misuses and misconceptions of the term “organic,” Heartwood is doing their part by using Organic Week as an opportunity to inform and reach an audience that is seeking out information on organics. Carrie has consistently gone above and beyond to participate: “We love to celebrate organics any chance we get, plus it is such a great chance to educate the community.” Carrie fully enjoys sharing her view and knowledge on organics with those who focus on it in their lives and are yearning for more information.

“If this can be our part in reducing our environmental footprint, enjoying better food and increasing sustainability, then why wouldn’t we choose organic?” explains Carrie. Heartwood Café has repeatedly exceeded all expectations of Organic Week participation through hosting a variety of educational sessions in their restaurant, celebrations with live music and delicious organic beverages and appetizers, special menu features throughout the week and supporting local organic producers by hosting meet and greet events.

The organic community surely appreciates Heartwood’s Organic Week efforts once again, as well as the support for ACORN’s Grow A Farmer Apprenticeship and Mentorship Program. Heartwood will be a proud participant of the newly launched “Give a Toonie, Grow a Farmer” campaign. Located at 6250 Quinpool Road, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Heartwood can be reached by calling (902) 425-2808. For more details on all Organic Week events, please visit the National website.

This post is part of ACORN’s 2013 Organic Week series where we are featuring the incredible work of our regional partners in Organic Week – the retailers, restaurants, and producers who make the week the educational and promotional success that it has become over the last three years.


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Organic Week Blog Series #4: Alexander Fresh Vegetables

Organic Week officially starts TOMORROW: Can you believe it? In Canada, there’s a lot to celebrate. We’re supporting a growing organic sector, and a transparent and sustainable food source. From province to province, farmers, retailers, and consumers are gearing up for an exciting week ahead – a week of promoting and celebrating all things organic!

One such promoter on Prince Edward Island is Alexander (Sandy) McKay of Alexander Fresh Vegetables – and Sandy sure has taken it up a notch this year in his outreach and promotion. Sandy w547303_433872839998639_202191023_nill be hosting two farm tours (see details below) and has connected with two local restaurants to feature organic vegetables on their menu.

After working 34 years in the Department of Transportation on PEI, Sandy has returned to his farming roots. He offers a fresh vegetable delivery out of his Hope River property, located only eight miles from the popular tourist hotspot of Cavendish. Sandy is also a member of the board of directors for both PEI COPC and ACORN.

September 24 Farm tours at Alexander Fresh Vegetables start at 10 am till 12 pm – go out and see crop rotation using organic buckwheat as a cover crop, heating a swimming pool with a greenhouse/cooling a greenhouse with a pool, mobile farmers market, multi-use tool bar and ways to reduce water.

Alexander Fresh Vegetables organic vegetables will be featured at Carr’s Oyster Bar in Stanley Bridge, PEI  during the day and the mobile market will be set up at the restaurant displaying the cool bot system. Everyone who visits the farm or makes a purchase at the farm, mobile market, or at Carr’s will get a ballot and could win a ticket to the Harvest Meal in September at the Confederation Centre.

September 25 Farm tours at Alexander Fresh Vegetables – go out and see crop rotation using organic buckwheat as a cover crop, heating a swimming pool with a greenhouse/cooling a greenhouse with a pool, mobile farmers market, multi-use tool bar and ways to reduce water usage.

Alexander Fresh Vegetables organic vegetables will be featured in the evening at the Olde Glasgow Mill in New Glasgow, PEI. In the afternoon from 2 to 4 pm, the mobile market will be set up at the restaurant displaying the cool bot system. Everyone who visits the farm or makes a purchase at the farm, mobile market, or at Olde Glasgow Mill will get a ballot and could win a ticket to the Harvest Meal in September at the Confederation Centre.

To reach Sandy McKay for more information about his Organic Week events, please call 902-888-7456 or email alexanderb@bellaliant.net.

Interested in the Harvest Meal? The PEI COPC presents the 10th Annual Organic Harvest Meal on September 29, 2013. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Buffet Style at 6:30 p.m. Location: Memorial Hall at the Confederation Centre. Entertainment by Patrick Ledwell. Tickets are $35 each. For more information contact email@organicpei.com or call 1-902-894-9999.

This post is part of ACORN’s 2013 Organic Week series where we are featuring the incredible work of our regional partners in Organic Week – the retailers, restaurants, and producers who make the week the educational and promotional success that it has become over the last three years.


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Organic Week Blog Series #3: L’Acadie Vineyards

The benefits of eating organic foods are relatively well-known, but the distinct advantages of organic wine and drink tend to receive a lot less attention. Bruce Ewert of L’Acadie Vineyards is doing all he can to change that, and has made powerful strides in assuring organic wine has gained valuable recognition and a dependable reputation.

Bruce Ewert is owner-operator of L'Acadie Vineyards, the first organic winery in Nova Scotia.

Bruce Ewert is owner-operator of L’Acadie Vineyards, the first and only organic winery in Nova Scotia.

After completing a degree in Bio-resource Engineering, Bruce immediately found his passion for winemaking by working in wineries for the next seven years. The last stop of his journey through wineries in British Columbia, Ontario, California and Australia was an organic winery,  and it was at this point where his path truly changed. Bruce and his wife Pauline Scott had always dreamed of moving back to the Maritimes, where Pauline grew up, in order to raise their own children. This dream soon became a reality when they found the perfect property in 2004 in Gaspereau Valley, NS.

“I was free to start fresh,” states Ewert. “Not only did organic procedures support my style of winemaking, it’s just what makes sense.” With this optimistic approach, L’Acadie Vineyards had their first wine by 2008 – the first certified organic wine in the region. Their reputation has only flourished since then, boasting clear flavours free of unnecessary chemicals and a distinct terroir. Bruce explains, “Herbicides compromise the soil makeup; the complexities and subtleties in flavour can only be attained through natural practices.”

For Bruce, making the decision to participate in Organic Week was just as clear as choosing to grow organically. “With national exposure comes national outreach,” Bruce confides. “I cannot think of a better opportunity to educate the community at a national level on such an important topic.”

L’Acadie Vineyards has been a participant since Organic Week started four years ago.  Last year the winery hosted daily vineyard tours that featured wine tastings and sessions on the environmental and personal benefits of organic grape growing.

This year L’Acadie Vineyards will be hosting daily, complimentary wine tastings and vineyard tours once again. They have also collaborated with various NSLC locations for organic wine tastings, maximizing consumer outreach. Bruce will also be present at Bishop’s Cellar in Halifax on September 27th for an additional wine tasting, providing the opportunity for organic and wine enthusiasts to meet their local organic wine producer.

L’Acadie Vineyards will also have a presence at multiple farmers’ markets throughout the week participating in ACORN’s “Give a Toonie, Grow a Farmer” campaign – a newly launched initiative in support of our Grow A Farmer Apprenticeship and Mentorship Program. They will be offering various wine tastings by donation with all proceeds going towards supporting the future of local organic farmers. See a complete list of L’Acadie’s Organic Week tastings and events here.

This post is part of ACORN’s 2013 Organic Week series where we are featuring the incredible work of our regional partners in Organic Week – the retailers, restaurants, and producers who make the week the educational and promotional success that it has become over the last three years. 


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Organic Week Blog Series #2: Broadfork Farm

The enthusiasm of the young farmers of Broadfork Farm is hard not to notice, especially during Organic Week.

Just before Organic Week on September 15th, many farms will be participating in Open Farm Day across the Maritimes. It’s a wonderful opportunity to invite families and other interested consumers out to the farm to learn more about organic farming, and agriculture in general.

Shannon Jones & Bryan Dyck are co-owners of Broadfork Farm in River Hebert, NS.

Shannon Jones & Bryan Dyck are co-owners of Broadfork Farm in River Hebert, NS.

While September is a very busy month on the farm, there are a handful of farmers, including Shannon Jones and Bryan Dyck of Broadfork Farm, who also make the time to participate in Organic Week.

“We really love having people at the farm; it really helps connect people to their food and provides the missing link between their personal health and environmental benefits,” explains Shannon. Last year for Organic Week Broadfork Farm created many opportunities for people to come out to visit. Throughout the week they hosted farm tours, a picnic lunch, a seed saving workshop and a work party. “Organic Week is a great opportunity to host events, as it is typically people who truly care who join us,” she says. “There are always great conversations and enthusiastic attitudes. Consumers want to know more about what organic means, and Organic Week gives us the chance to share our passion.”

Agriculture was not always their passion. Both Shannon and Bryan grew up in urban settings and did not initially seek out farming as a career option. Shannon grew up in a highly health-conscious, organic-friendly atmosphere, which greatly attributed to her passion and drive for nutrition. From a young age she always cared about the environment and the current issues affecting our planet. “When I was a little girl I started a youth group called ‘Kids for Saving the Earth.’ I would routinely write letters to the Prime Minister on environmental issues- it was my way of trying to make a difference,” states Shannon. This desire to make a difference led Shannon to studies in Holistic Nutrition, and eventually, farming.

Bryan began studies in Urban Planning, but upon discovering an apprenticeship opportunity at a nearby biodynamic farm, he focused solely on the ecological impacts of food production, going on to complete a work term on an incubator farm and to manage his own CSA. It was during these apprenticeships that Bryan and Shannon met, and three years ago Broadfork Farm was established.

There is no question now that organic agriculture is a shared passion for both of them, and that they make it a great priority to educate people about the environmental and nutritional benefits of producing food this way.

This Organic Week is no exception. Rather than coordinate events on the farm, Shannon and Bryan have partnered with Moncton-based retailer, Sequoia Foods, to present a virtual tour of their farm – bringing the farm to the city! The event is part of Sequoia’s launch of their participation in ACORN’s “Give a Toonie, Grow a Farmer” campaign, which is in support of the Grow A Farmer Apprenticeship & Mentorship program – one that Shannon and Bryan are involved with at all levels.

Join Broadfork Farm at Sequoia to get the tour on Monday, September 23rd at 6pm – check out the Facebook event for more details and visit the Organic Week website for more events during the week.

If you can’t make it out on Monday, Shannon and Bryan will be at their usual Dieppe Farmers’ Market booth with special organic educational information on hand both Saturdays of Organic Week!

This post is part of ACORN’s 2013 Organic Week series where we are featuring the incredible work of our regional partners in Organic Week – the retailers, restaurants, and producers who make the week the educational and promotional success that it has become over the last three years. 


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Organic Week Blog Series #1: Sequoia Foods

Making the connection between how our food is produced and the state of our personal health can be a hard one to make, especially with many of us so removed from farming and even basic food knowledge. Raising awareness of this connection is but one of the goals Moncton-based retailer, Sequoia Foods has during not only Organic Week, but the rest of the year.

Becky MacCallum is manager at Sequoia Foods in Moncton

Becky MacCallum is manager at Sequoia Foods in Moncton

The store’s manager, Becky MacCallum, shares that upon completing her studies in nutrition and learning more about the environmental impacts of industrial agriculture shortly after starting her work at the store in 2007, “there was no turning back” for her.

Beyond the environmental benefits of organic agriculture, Becky has found incredible personal health benefits from eating organically. “I have experienced an unbelievable change in my health and it has really pushed me to share that message,” she says.

Working alongside fellow holistic nutritionists and sourcing from a long list of local organic producers has furthered Becky’s motivation to promote organics. “There is nothing better than being involved in a community of supportive, interested and innovative individuals, all working towards similar goals,” she shares.

This support and passion shines through with Sequoia’s on-going participation in Organic Week. While the store continuously strives to show consumers an organic lifestyle is really possible all year round and can be affordable, Becky admits, “We really enjoy taking this one week of the year to get organic info out there in any way that we can.”

Their dedication is unquestionable, considering the store has been organizing a different event every single day of Organic Week! From in-store demos to seminars led by ACORN, Sequoia is always delivering a range of educational and promotional opportunities for organic.

Trying something new this year, Sequoia is collaborating with Broadfork Farm to host Shannon Jones and Bryan Dyck for a virtual tour of their farm. Not only will this provide an opportunity for the community to meet some local organic producers face to face, but Shannon and Bryan will also be sharing their apprenticeship experiences in order to kick off Sequoia’s participation in ACORN’s “Give a Toonie, Grow a Farmer” campaign. It is absolutely incredible to see such support for the future of our local organic farmers, as all proceeds from this campaign go towards our Grow A Farmer Apprenticeship and Mentorship Program.

“I can’t think of a better way to show our support and passion for the organic movement,” states Becky.

This post is part of ACORN’s 2013 Organic Week series where we are featuring the incredible work of our regional partners in Organic Week – the retailers, restaurants, and producers who make the week the educational and promotional success that it has become over the last three years.