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The bloom is back and a little early

May 15, 2015

NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE — Ontario’s tender fruit and produce farmers, grocers large and small and everyone in between gathered together on Thursday for the second year in a row to celebrate the bloom.

And for the second year in a row, the event missed the actual blossom.

“It’s tricky predicting when it’s going to come,” explained organizer Sarah Marshall of the Ontario Tender Fruit Producers’ Marketing Board. “Last year, we were too early. This year, we’re about a week too late.”

The early blossom, explained Phil Tregunno, owner of Tregunno Fruit Farms along the Niagara Parkway and chairman of the Ontario Tender Fruit Producers’ Marketing Board, is a good thing and it indicates that this year’s crop will come in a week ahead of schedule — unlike last year’s late crop.

“It’s looking really good,” he said, adding that’s surprising considering the winter Ontario just experienced with record cold temperatures. “Then, last week, we had record warm temperatures for this time of year which was perfect for pollination.”

He said by all indication, Niagara farmers appear to have a pretty full crop. There were some losses in other parts of the province though, like Leemington and Simcoe.

Hosted on Tregunno’s 700-acre farm along the Niagara River, the event serves as a networking opportunity for growers, distributors, retailers and processors, as well as a chance for the marketing board to kick off the local produce season.

“Obviously we had a terrible winter and we were expecting doom and gloom going through it, but the crops have turned out pretty fantastic,” Tregunno said to the crowd. “We’re going to have a great season.”

Denise Zaborowski of Foodland Ontario said the event was a great opportunity for the growing community to come together in community and fellowship adding she was excited to hear the season was going to be a bit early.

“Nothing says summer more than Ontario tender fruit,” she said, adding the peach is identified by consumers as the one thing they love best of all out of Ontario fruits and vegetables.

Foodland, with its iconic green logo and latest marketing campaign featuring the Foodland song, has found its way into consumer’s hearts she said and more and more they are demanding local produce in their stores.

“We’re very, very fortunate consumers are asking for and demanding local produce,” she said.

They’ve tried to add personality to the ad campaigns, she noted, by including growers and their families like last summer’s ad that featured peaches and Niagara-on-the-Lake growers Ethan and Erika Lepp standing in their orchard.

They’ve also tapped into urban markets, she said, by reminding commuters on transit advertising that local food is closer than they think.

Foodland Ontario, she added, is the government leader in social media.

“People love to talk about local food,” she said.

The website continues to see traffic driven to recipes featuring local ingredients as well.

“Please continue to collaborate and work together because together, we can do great things,” she said.

Marshall described the bloom event as an opportunity to pause and be thankful for those who grow, support the growers and sell fresh fruit close by — helping to raise awareness from the consumer to retail shelf.

The marketing board, she said, is working to maximize all of its strategies to ensure the consumer is aware of the local growing seasonal and demands local tender fruit in their stores.

“That’s our ultimate goal,” she said.

Read the complete article from Niagara This Week here:


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