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Norfolk County
Economic Development
185 Robinson St, Ste 200, Simcoe, ON N3Y 5L6 Canada
Phone: 519-426-9497
Toll Free: 1-800-699-9038


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Food & beverage trends report

The Food People, a consulting firm in the U.K., has developed “Food & Beverage Trends in 2017-18” that may be useful for people involved in the food industry.

Trends for food in the next year or two center around foodies “getting involved” (diner participation, food chefs at home), focusing on “soothing comforts” (a taste of yesterday, sweet sensation), watching for “service polarization” (service style), and “revamping the run-of-the-mill” (gourmet fast food, premium frozen, veggie dude food).

Other trends include focusing on the story of food, including seasonality, provenance, equipment and techniques, street food, and personal stories. Health, wellness, ethical eating (social purpose, supply chains, reducing waste) and personalization and populism (pop ups, markets and halls, table for one) are also among the new trends.

The infographic prepared by The Food People also lists big flavour markers that are emerging, naming trends such as seashore, meadow, floral botanicals and smoke among the flavours in a savoury kitchen. Big ingredients for meat and fish (aged proteins, wagu, halal, for example) and fruit and vegetables (coloured and heritage, pickled, kaniwa, chia, honey, stevia) are also noted in the report.

Thanks to the Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance for sharing this info.

Small business confidence is up, says BDC

The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) reports that confidence among small and medium sized enterprizes (SMEs) is increasing.

The Business Barometer index compiled by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, which had shot up by 2.8 points in February, remained unchanged in March, indicating that SME owners’ confidence is still firm.

Looking at the various industries, we note that the index’s decline in the construction sector is counterbalanced by a sharp upturn in manufacturing. Given that industrial and regional breakdowns are volatile, it is advisable to view them through the lens of the six-month moving average.

In so doing, we note that SME confidence in the natural resources sector, which was severely shaken by the slump in crude oil prices, has been gradually moving up again over the past 12 months (graph).

Confidence is on an upwards path in many other sectors as well, including manufacturing and construction; this bodes well for jobs and investment.


Norfolk Agriculture News – April 2017


The latest edition of Norfolk County Agriculture News email has been published.

Latest headlines:

  • Wineries & growers association elects new board of directors
  • Now Accepting Applications for the 2017 Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence Program
  • Updates from Agriculture Advisory Board

View latest edition


Norfolk Development News – April 13, 2017

The latest edition of Norfolk County Development News email has been published.

Latest headlines:

  • Approval sought for Port Dover medical centre
  • Expansion approved for Titan Trailers
  • Student Start Up Program seeks sponsors
  • Properties for Sale

View latest edition

Approval sought for Port Dover wellness centre

Norfolk County’s Community Planning Division has received an application from 2079095 Ontario Ltd. seeking approval for the development of the Port Dover wellness centre.

The application seeks to draft plan approve a new subdivision on lands along Hwy 6 in Port Dover to create 6 blocks and a public road for the following uses: Residential-Retirement Home (Block 1), Commercial-Medical Centre (Block 2/3/4), Residential Mid-rise (Block 5), and Commercial-Hotel/Banquet Hall/Convention Centre (Block 6).

Furthermore, an application has been received to amend the Norfolk County Official Plan and Zoning By-law to modify and enlarge a commercial block by extending the Shopping Centre Commercial designation and zone within the proposed Dover Coast draft plan of subdivision for the construction of a new medical centre.

Marked as “wellness centre” on the proposed site plan, the proposed building will be about 17,000 square foot in size and have about 103 parking spaces adjacent to it. 

A roundabout is expected to be built to connect Hwy 6 to the new public road, which may be named Dover Coast Boulevard. The street leading to the wellness centre is proposed to be named Barrett Court.

Wellness Centre




Major expansion approved at Titan Trailers

Norfolk County Council has approved a major expansion by Titan Trailers, including a 92,000-square-foot finishing plant for its transport trailer manufacturing business. About 50 additional workers will be needed for this new operation. 

Norfolk County Community Planning staff brought the combined Official Plan Amendment (OPA), Zoning By-law Amendment (ZBA), Site Plan application and Consent application for development and expansion of the Titan Trailers operation to Council on April 11, 2017.  The applications are outlined as follows:

  • An OPA to place a site-specific Agricultural policy on the subject lands.  The amendment will be an extension of the existing Site Specific policy on the main Titan Trailers property (, and permit industrial uses on the subject lands. 
  • A ZBA to rezone the lands from “Agriculture (A)” to “General Industrial (MG)” to permit the use. 
  • Site Plan application to review the technical details and design of the development for a new finishing plant facility for Titan Trailers with a ground floor area of 8,547 square metres (92,000 square feet), with associated parking, landscape and storage.
  • A Consent application to sever a 1.55 hectare (3.8 acre) parcel from the adjacent property (also owned by Titan Trailers – Parcel 1 and 2) and add it to the lands identified as Parcel 3.

Titan Trailers expansion

Wineries & Growers Association elects new Board of Directors

The Ontario’s South Coast Wineries and Growers Association has elected a new Board of Directors, naming Nick Vranckx of Blueberry Hill Estates Winery as President.

“I am honoured to have been selected as President and I look forward to working with OSCWGA members to ensure the organization’s continued success,” Vranckx said. “Ontario’s South Coast is being recognized more and more for quality grape and fruit wine production and it’s an exciting time to be at the forefront of the Association. My goals for the Association include continuing to improve the quality of our grape growing, gaining further recognition for our region’s wines, and helping develop the area’s wine and food culture.” 

Nick Vranckx

Nick Vranckx has been named President of the Ontario South Coast Wineries & Growers Association

Vranckx succeeds Mike McArthur as President. This ends his involvement as a Board member, Chair and President. He has been active in the Association since its founding 8 years ago. Mike was recently appointed a Judge with the Ontario Court of Justice in Guelph.

“It has been a real privilege to lead this organization representing the wineries in Haldimand, Norfolk, and Elgin,” said McArthur. “It’s an exciting time for us as we continue to further the goal of becoming our own DVA appellation. The organization’s strategic goals are being realized and I have been glad to be a part of this sustained effort and achievement. The Association is in a good place for the future.” 

The Executive Committee also consists of Dr. John Kelly, Vice President, Ron Barr, Treasurer and Kim Ludwig, Secretary. Elected to the Board were: Karen Matthews, Burning Kiln Winery; Kim Ludwig, Wooden BearL; Dr. John Kelly; Richard Czerlau, Frisky and Gamble; Rob Gill, Villa Nova Estates Winery; Shantel Bosgoed, Inasphere Winery.

The Board thanked Phil Ryan of Villa Nova Estates Winery, Joe Czerlau of Frisky and Gamble, Ryan Bosgoed of Inasphere and Mike McArthur of Burning Kiln Winery for their service and look forward to continuing working with them in their capacity on some of the many committees of the board.

The board also recognized the following members that are continuing on for another year of office: Anita Buehner, Bonnieheath Estate Lavender and Winery; Andrew Shelswell, Golden Leaf Winery; Mat Vaughan, Hounds of Erie Winery; Phil Ryan, Villa Nova Estates Winery; and Ron Barr, Rush Creek Winery.

In the fall of 2016, the Association applied for Designated Viticulture Status (DVA) under the title, ‘Norfolk County’ which includes wineries in Haldimand, Norfolk, and Elgin. This application is currently under consideration by VQA Ontario. If passed, Norfolk County will become the newest DVA in Canada and would join Niagara, Prince Edward County, and Lake Erie North Shore as official appellations.

“VQA is about place,” states VQA Ontario. “Special places right here at home. Places like nowhere else in the world. Where the soil, the slope, the sunshine, the warmth, the rainfall and the craftsmanship all matter. Together, they give us better grapes. And better grapes give us better wine.”


The OSCWGA is a non-profit organization that represents an emerging wine region along Lake Erie – in Haldimand, Norfolk and Elgin Counties. The organization’s mission is to “Cultivate a distinct and vibrant wine region in Ontario’s South Coast”.  The organization currently has nine winery partners including Blueberry Hill Estates, Bonnieheath Estate Lavender & Winery, Burning Kiln Winery, Frisky & Gamble Cellars, Golden Leaf Winery, Quai du Vin, Rush Creek, Wooden BearL, and Villa Nova Estate Winery.

Shabatura Produce becomes international producer

Shabatura Produce is one of those companies that show what the soils of the Norfolk Sand Plain are capable of growing.

Now in its fourth generation, the operation was originally in the Boston area. Then, in the early 1990s, the family started moving their farms to the sandy soil around the Windham Centre area.

Shabatura family

Shabatura Produce is a multi-generation family operation. Standing are Peter and John Shabatura and brother-in-law Eric Chanyi and Eric’s son Carson.

“You can get on the field earlier and go longer (in the fall),” said Eric Chanyi, whose wife Tiffany was a Shabatura. “When it rains you can still get on the soil.”

By comparison, he said following rain on the heavy soils, it’s harder to get back on the ground. It’s important in this operation for workers to be able to get on the field every day to plant or harvest the multitude of fruit and vegetable crops grown.

Only a few decades ago, the sandy soil was widely known as tobacco land.

“Back in the day, you wouldn’t think about growing on sand, but with modern technology and drip irrigation it’s possible,” Chanyi said. The Shabaturas pay close attention to crop rotation and land stewardship.

Chanyi came to be a part of the operation in a roundabout way. He grew up on a farm and paid his way through teacher’s college by working on the farm. But, after graduating, he found teaching wasn’t for him and returned to his farm roots.

“I came to do this because I enjoy it,” he said. “I like the diversity – everyday is different.”

Interestingly, both Tiffany and Peter’s wife Victoria work off the farm as teachers.

Now, Eric is in charge of labour and ensuring the multitude of crops is harvested at time. His mother-in-law Mary looks after the books and food safety regulations. Father-in-law John and brother-in-law Peter get the fields ready and ensure the machinery is in working order. Peter also teams up with Eric on the sales front.

Tomatoes at Shabatura Produce

Tomatoes at Shabatura Produce

Today Shabatura Produce operates on 1,350 acres, 800 of which they own. The variety of crops includes strawberries, zucchini, spring and summer cabbage, storage cabbage, a variety of peppers, field tomatoes and cantaloupe. The crops are staged in multiple plantings to keep a constant supply through the summer.

“As one field is tapering down in quality, another is just kicking in,” Chanyi said.

Although mechanization is part of the packing lines, and tractors with wagons transport the produce, it is all still picked and put into the baskets by hand.

“It’s all fresh market so quality is important,” Chanyi explained.

That ‘fresh market’ includes Peter’s task of being at the Ontario Food Terminal six days per week in the summer. It also includes dealing with major grocery chains. Shabatura Produce is shipped within Ontario, but also to the eastern seaboard of the United States and to the mid-west.

Originally published in Norfolk Farms, March 2017, by Media Pro Publishing, 519-429-0847.

Strawberries in forefront at Simcoe Research Station

Scientists at the University of Guelph’s Simcoe Research Station are in the forefront of  strawberry breeding research.

“We’re doing ground breaking work in North America,” said Adam Dale, professor emeritus of the  University of Guelph’s plant agriculture department.

A veteran of the SRS, Dale has been involved in strawberry research since 1983 and has contributed to making the local area into Canada’s top strawberry producing areas.

Adam Dale

Adam Dale

Strawberries are grown throughout eastern North America, but usually in short seasons. The advent of day-neutral cultivars means Ontario can now produce strawberries for ten months of the year.         

Day-neutral strawberries are now becoming more popular in temperate regions of the world. However, because the plants initiate flowers continually, runner production becomes more difficult. One way to overcome poor propagation rates is to develop F1 hybrid cultivars that can be seed propagated. F1 hybrids can be developed which are day-neutral, do not produce runners and have large, high quality fruit.

Also, plants grown from seed can be sub-irrigated so that the leaves are free of disease and be ready to plant more easily in the field at any time.

Seed propagation  has a number of benefits which can be divided into two classes: those associated with genetics of the cultivars and those assoiciated with the propagation/plant  production system.

Geneticallly, there are no runners. In Ontario, runner and flower removal costs $1,899 per hectare. Frew runners also allows more dry matter to be channeled to preproduction n and thus a high harvest index.

From a propagation/production point of view seedlings can be grown in plug trays and planted in the fields at any time of the year. Fruit production can be as soon as 40 days from planting. Plug plants can be bottom watered in the nursery and plants will not be infected with fungal diseases and be free of most viruses.

Dale said their initial steps at breeding F1 hybrids has shown it is possible to develop hybrids  adapted to a wide range of environments.

In addition to strawberry breeding, SRS researchers are looking to develop a hazel nut industry, rootstock for Ontario’s booming grape growing on the Norfolk Sand Plain and re-introducing the American chestnut tree into forests.

“The American chestnut is an endangered species,” Dale said. “It used to be a major species of the Carolinian Forest, but there are now only about 3,000 left in Ontario.”

Researcher Dragan Galic said the American chestnut tree was”embedded in the social fabric” of early settlers who used it for housing, furniture and food before a blight decimated the species.

“Hopefully we’ll get to the point where we’ll have a blight resistant tree within five years,” he said. “In tree breeding you need a lot of patience.”

Originally published in Norfolk Farms, March 2017, by Media Pro Publishing, 519-429-0847.

Years of growing success at Simcoe Research Station

Just over five years ago the Simcoe Research Station (SRS) marked its 50th anniversary.

                The milestone event highlighted the invaluable contribution of the 200-acre facility to the horticultural  industry both locally, provincially and around the world.

                Despite its prominence and reputation, the SRS toils largely in anonymity in the local community. But its newly arrived manager of crops research technical support, Ray Kaczmarski, wants to heighten the station’s profile.

                Kaczmarski recalls being queried about his University of Guelph vehicle in Simcoe. He explained the association between the university and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and its presence off Highway 3 between Culver Road and the Blue Line Road.

Ray Kaczmarski

Ray Kaczmarski is station manager

                “They didn’t know we existed and what we were doing,’ he said.

                Coming from the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre in the Niagara area, Kaczmarski  said that facility was well known in the community and surrounding area. He cited events such as open houses and station tours.

                “We want to do the same here,” he said. “This is a little gem.”

                Increased signage is an obvious first step, but Kaczmarski is looking at more community outreach in terms of open houses and tours.

                Younger people and particularly students will be targeted and informed of the potential for summer jobs at the station, as well as possible careers in agriculture.

                Focused primarily on horticultural research, Kaczmarski said work at SRS is particularly relevant in today’s trend to Buy Local when making food choices. Norfolk County is especially well-positioned to tap into those markets.

                “It’s cool what is going on out there,” he said, citing the ingenuity and diversity of crops being grown locally.

                In addition to traditional fruit and vegetable crops, entrepreneurs are creating new and lucrative enterprises with crops and value-added endeavours such as grapes and wineries and hops and craft beer.

                The millennial generation is more willing to try new things and “farmers can tap into that.”

                Kaczmarski added that local farmers can take advantage of new immigrants to
Canada who seek out different cultural foods and plants, such as flowering cherry trees for the Chinese New Year.

                “You’d be shocked at what people will pay,” he said.

                In addition to the affiliation with the University of Guelph and OMAFRA, SRS is home to grower organizations such as Ontario Ginseng and the Asparagus Growers Marketing Association.

                Contracted research projects is one source of funding for SRS.

                Kaczmarski acknowledged that accessing funding is a “frustration” as researchers go about their work.

                Adam Dale, the longest tenured researcher at the station, said funding is one of the biggest challenges for the future. He said SRS is moving to a 50-50 model where various commodity groups share in the costs.

                “It’s difficult,” agreed Kaczmarski. “We have fragmented grower groups and don’t have a ‘Big Brother’ like a Monsanto (to contribute long term, sustainable fund).”

                While funding is a chronic challenge, SRS has a critical role in advancing agricultural research, not only in Norfolk County, but around the world.

Originally published in Norfolk Farms, March 2017, by Media Pro Publishing, 519-429-0847.