The high standards of Nova Scotia’s Honeycrisp variety have contributed to building a coveted reputation for the province’s apple growing industry. Creating and maintaining a standard calls for discipline, both in the orchard and during fruit handling and storage. This variety’s crispy texture and particularly delicious taste (even after many months in storage) are qualities other producing regions of North America have a hard time guaranteeing.
39 RESEARCH SCIENTISTS
The Agriculture Canada Research Centre literally dominates the Annapolis Valley, with the little town of Kentville at its feet. With its 39 research scientists and biologists, the Centre is specialized in food production, conservation and quality.
In tune with the coming and going of the world’s greatest tides (up to 17 metres (55 feet)!), the Annapolis Valley has surprising weather, to say the least. This microclimate has, in fact, proven to be the most clement of the entire Canadian East coast. It favours frost-free springs, where plants can grow earlier without risk. Cherries and peaches can even be grown here, though these crops are limited since the varieties are less adapted to high yields. Apples undeniably dominate the landscape.
Apple-growing does indeed garner Nova Scotia with its status as the agricultural jewel of the Maritimes. This crop is found all through the province’s sun-filled valleys. Orchards grow alongside fields of carrots and many other large-scale vegetable crops, and poultry and dairy farms. Growers of grains, forage and
oilseed crops round out this mosaic. Forest still abounds despite the Valley’s small surface area, which leads one to imagine the region’s future agricultural potential.
Founded in 1863, the Nova Scotia Fruit Growers’ Association (NSFGA) is currently located in Kentville at Agriculture Canada. Focussed on apple-growing and horticultural production, an experimental farm was founded there in 1910. Indeed, part of Canada’s fruit-growing history has been written in the Annapolis Valley for over 150 years. In the early 20th century, the Nova Scotia apple was exhibited around the world and Great Britain was its main taker. Its exportation is therefore well-engrained in Valley producers’ traditions, though they were forced to revisit their marketing strategies in the middle of the last century. While they intensified their focus on local markets, though the exportation of certain varieties, such as the Honeycrisp, still dominate.
Though farm stands are a frequent sight in the Valley, the bulk of the business is commercial apple growing, local retail and the prepared foods market. Handling, storage and packaging facilities are concentrated with several players, namely the Scotian Gold Co-operative. Located in Coldbrook, this leader monopolizes 50% of the Valley’s apple production. Its receiving and storage facilities, as well as its huge packaging station, have contributed to the extensive expertise of this sector since 1957.
Tourism is also a focal point in the Valley, with its busloads of visitors and vacationing families meandering through over the summer. The provincial government and regional authorities deploy remarkable effort to encourage local purchasing. Indeed, buying local is the undeniable economic strength of short supply chains, especially when there are also many tourist attractions. The tides alone, which can rise some 17 metres over just a few hours, are as fascinating as they are intimidating. To block their muddy brown waters from flowing into the Valley’s lowlands, the first settlers built dikes in the early 17th century, and in so doing, reclaimed impressive surface areas of agricultural land. Improved over the years, these earthworks are now also used as roadways and offer up dizzying views of the high tides.
Producing quality fruit to vie for a role in export markets calls not only for a great amount of discipline, but also for rigorous agronomic and technical field management. Founded by the Department of Agriculture, Perennia is an innovation centre for technical knowledge transfer that acts effectively with producers. With its own board of directors, Perennia is administered independently and therefore is free in both its greater orientation and its practical applications in the field.