Pumpkin growing process earns Indian River Acres first Peterborough Agricultural Innovation Award

Indian River Acres farm owners Kevin Cornish, second from left and Janet Dawson, receive the Peterborough Agricultural Innovation Award from Garth Stoner, far left of Sunderland Co-op, and Elmer Buchanan from the Peterborough Agricultural Roundtable, and Peterborough County Warden Bonnie Clark. Peterborough County

Indian River Acres farm east of Peterborough has been named the inaugural recipient of the Peterborough Agricultural Innovation Award.

The award recognizes Peterborough and area farmers who display “ingenuity” in trying something innovative on their farm and achieving results. The annual award was created by the Peterborough Agricultural Roundtable and is sponsored by Sunderland Co-op.

The award is the second for the farm after the Cornish family were named Peterborough County’s Farm Family of the Year in September 2022.

Owned by Kevin Cornish and Janet Dawson, Indian Rivers Acres was recognized for their eight years or research and experimentation to grow pumpkins but also minimize the reliance on spray and chemicals.

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According to their award nomination, the farm’s unique process includes cover cropping and the use of a crimper roller to terminate the cover crop at the start of the growing season. The process has also resulted in increased soil health, minimized disease transmission and decreased soil erosion, says Cornish.

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“Excessive tillage, sprays, and chemicals use are not usual practices that we wanted on our farm,” stated the owners. “We started to research different sustainable methods and knew that cover cropping, notill planting and conservation tillage would need to be practices incorporated into our pumpkin operation. The question was ‘how do we do this when these are not common practices for growing pumpkins?'”

A crimper added to the front of a tractor and a planter on the back has led to improved farming conditions for pumpkins at Indian River Acres farm in Peterborough County. Indian River Acres farm

The owners say the innovation has also reduced input and operational costs, fossil fuel use, increased time saved and allowed the crop to be more resilience to extreme weather.

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Cornish and Dawson say the process is an “emerging practice” in Ontario. The farm also grows sweet corn, garlic and squash.

The farm received a plaque and a $500 cheque.

“I know the immense efforts, blood, sweat, and tears that go into making a family farm successful,” said Peterborough County warden Bonnie Clark. “On behalf of all of Peterborough County, I want to congratulate you and thank you for your hard work and dedication to innovation in the agricultural sector.”

Applications are now open for the 2023 award. To access the application form, click visit online at:

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