Industry Development
Capitalizing on opportunities and tackling industry challenges

Diversifying the Maple Industry

Nova Scotia maple producers make a world class product. With the goal of increasing overall production and sales, Perennia partnered with the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture (NSDA) on the Maple Development and Diversification Project. The project includes applied research to increase the value of production by-products, adapt products and packaging to reach new markets and increase industry’s skills and understanding of export growth. 

To prepare and educate new and current maple producers, we hired international and provincial expertise in best management practices. We also prepared a Safe Food for Canadians Guide for Maple Producers for those interested in federal registrations and export. This included producing three marketing reports on national and international trends in maple products and opportunities for growth and export. Perennia also formulated and manufactured two value-added maple beverages with roadmaps to commercialization. 

When this project is completed in 2024, the Nova Scotia maple industry will be better prepared to increase the production of high-quality maple syrup with insight into potential new markets and new products. 

Creating the Environment for Robust Weather Intelligence = Effective Crop Management Decisions

Data is one of the most valuable assets a business can have.  But it really becomes valuable and effective when presented in a way where end users can use it to act.  Being able to use weather data (heat, frost, rain) in a strategic way to make crop management decisions has always been a big part of farming success.

Working with the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture (NSDA), we started a two-year Agriculture Weather Intelligence Initiative. The aim is to encourage producers to embrace on-farm weather station technology, adopt tools that allow them to fully utilize the information and empower them to make management decisions to mitigate the impacts of climate change and adverse weather conditions.

This year NSDA launched a weather station funding program, providing subsidies from 30-70 per cent to eligible farms to purchase high functioning weather stations. Our role focused on installing the stations on farms and supporting the producers. Next year we will evolve the project to include using and accessing new sensors and stations to collect different types of weather data on farms, sharing the results and ramping up information sharing and working with farmers to increase the application of weather technology.

Number of highly functioning scientific weather stations funded under the Weather Station Program by March 31, 2022 – 56

Using Weather Data to Fight a Bacteria Deadly to Apple and Pear Orchards

This year we took the data from local weather stations and forecasts to another level to predict fire blight disease infection periods. The Perennia-developed alert model for fire blight will replace manual calculations done in the Maryblyt™ model for general email alerts prepared by our specialist and will instead put data directly into farmers hands. Using a self-managed online tool to provide information specific to their orchards, farmers can tap into data from the closest public weather station.

Fire blight is a devastating bacterial disease that infects the flowers of apple and pear trees making them look like they’ve been scorched by fire. After infection it can rapidly kill trees or greatly increase labour requirements to manage the situation.

The online model allows farmers to protect their crop by receiving alerts when infection periods are high risk based on recorded local temperature and rainfall, local forecasts and variables like growth stage and antibiotic spray dates. Our specialist did manual modelling throughout the 2021-22 growing season to support farms while also using the alpha version of the model to validate findings. The online fire blight model will be made available to the industry as a beta test next year.

Creating a Full Utilization Commercial Seal Industry

In partnership with First Nation and non-indigenous harvesters, Perennia is leading a project to build the capacity of Nova Scotia’s sealing industry and develop economic opportunities to fully utilize the meat, blubber, organs, carcasses, and pelt of grey seals.

Funded by the Atlantic Fish Fund and the Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, the aim of the initiative is to generate a long term, commercially viable, sustainable, and profitable sealing industry that will economically benefit the province’s rural and First Nation communities. It will also address concerns around the impacts of grey seal predation on wild commercial fish stocks.

Efforts for the 2022 harvest focused on recruiting new harvesters from Pictou Landing First Nation. Eleven new harvesters were trained in humane harvesting. They were licensed and received in-field training on how to properly harvest and process grey seals.

An on-going feasibility study has demonstrated increasing market interest for seal-based pet foods, which could lead to a viable option to fully utilize the resource.  This year, product was collected and will be used for research, analysis, and product development to pursue identified pet feed opportunities.

As the project continues to grow, efforts will focus on harvesting, recruitment, and market access efforts.

Promoting Nova Scotia as a Sportfishing Destination

Casting lines in Nova Scotia’s lakes and waterways is a growing passion among anglers. Perennia has partnered with the Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture (NSDFA) to promote Nova Scotia sportfishing opportunities to Nova Scotian and visiting anglers through creative content, advertising, and training for fishing guides, through the Nova Scotia Guide Service.

Perennia and NSDFA worked with contractors to develop a series of videos and collect images showcasing a wide range of species, locations, and authentic Nova Scotian angling opportunities. Guide training was completed, and Angling opportunities will be promoted on a newly launched Fish Nova Scotia website and through social media, print and television commercials.

This is an exciting project that will support growth of the recreational fishing sector and will support tourism in Nova Scotia.

Options for a Higher Rate of Return for Wild Blueberries

Nova Scotia has a global reputation for producing world-class wild blueberries, but producers believed there were ways to increase the rate of return on their product.  In 2021-22, Perennia worked with the Wild Blueberry Producers of Nova Scotia, their member growers and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) researchers to highlight areas for improved food safety, improved marketability and sustainability of packaging materials for fresh and frozen wild blueberries and possible practices to improve the shelf life of fresh berries. Together we completed the following:

  • Food safety risk assessment – several farms were sampled (field and processed berries) and processing facilities were swabbed. Although no pathogenic microorganisms were found in processed samples, results highlighted several areas for improvement. We will be following up with further studies on this part of the project in 2022-23.
  • Examination of packaging options – since blueberries generally come in a 5 lb. box, suggestions about possible alternatives were made, keeping sustainability and shelf life in mind. We also explored ideas around post-harvest handling and sanitation that could improve the shelf life of fresh berries.
  • Modified atmosphere packaging study – this study demonstrated potential improvements to extend fresh blueberry shelf life.
  • Marketing review – to differentiate the product, recommendations were made to go to a different pack size and/or format. Many aspects of scaling up to retail were covered, including the full-service effort required to get and maintain products in a retail environment.

Working with East Preston Daycare to Increase Exposure to Agriculture and Access to Fresh Food

Perennia had the pleasure of working with the East Preston Daycare to plant crops in their on-site greenhouse and garden plots as part of an initiative to increase exposure to and learning about agriculture.

The goal of the project was giving the East Preston Daycare staff and members the confidence and capability to produce horticulture crops in a greenhouse environment, providing access to hyper local fresh produce to be used at the daycare and shared in the community. Through the on-site greenhouse and garden plot, daycare children get hands on exposure to fruit and vegetable production, introducing the concept of where food comes from. They also get to eat fresh healthy food, which is added to their weekly menu.

In 2021-22, Perennia developed and presented the East Preston Daycare Greenhouse Annual Season Plan; conducted a visit to build a relationship with the production staff and discuss logistics to maximize production potential in the space; and maintained regular communication with the production staff to help them navigate unexpected obstacles through the production year and ensure the crops were progressing as planned.

This service was customized for East Preston Daycare, however similar consulting or project services are offered to all protected crop producers who require consulting in creating a season plan. we anticipate more requests of this nature as many field horticulture crop producers consider the transition to protected crop production.

The benefits gained by the East Preston Daycare will continue to grow as their staff and daycare students develop an interest in and passion for food production.