Ontario awards Brock $3.5M for sustainable agriculture research farm

May 01, 2024

The Ontario government has awarded Brock $3.5 million for a national sustainable agricultural project that will see the University’s innovative grape and wine research expand into other areas of the agricultural sector.

Funding from the Ontario Research Fund – Large Infrastructure Fund program supports the three-part Clean Agriculture for Sustainable Production (CASP) Field Infrastructure project. Central to the project is the Brock-led research farm where scientists from Brock, other institutions and industry will develop and test out agricultural innovations.

Co-leading the multi-institutional initiative are Principal Scientist Sudarsana Poojari and Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences Jim Willwerth (PhD ’11, OEVC ’04), who are both with Brock’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI).

“The Ontario government has recognized the time is now to be proactive in building resiliency and sustainability into Ontario’s $5.5-billion grape and wine industry by supporting this university-industry partnership,” says CCOVI Director and core scientist Debbie Inglis.

Brock held a small ceremony Friday, April 26 at the site of the future research farm — on Merrittville Highway south of the University’s main campus — to celebrate the Ontario funding, which was announced last month by Minister of Colleges and Universities Jill Dunlop. The Ontario grant matches a $3.5-million commitment from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).

“Ontario’s grape and wine sector supports critical rural economic development, both in Niagara and across the province,” says Sam Oosterhoff, Member of Provincial Parliament for Niagara West. “This provincial funding for Brock University through the Ontario Research Fund will help support sustainable local farm practices and establish a home for Canada’s first Clean Plant Program for grapevines at the University’s new research farm.”

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