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$1M automation system speeds up Elgin County tomato farm

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$1M automation system speeds up Elgin County tomato farm

By Calvi Leon, Native Journalism Initiative ReporterLondon Free Press

Wed., Aug. 18, 20212 min. be taught

Early Newspaper

A modern tomato processing system at an Elgin County farm helps one Southwestern Ontario grower solve the trade’s longtime reveal of discovering ample subject workers.

DeBackere Farms Inc., which produces subject and Roma tomatoes on 12 acres (5 hectares) southeast of St. Thomas, has invested $1 million in automation to ramp up sorting and processing.

“We’re very restricted on discovering ample again on the fields,” acknowledged farm proprietor Dan DeBackere. “However this (processing system) would again set extra labour.”

The machinery, made within the Netherlands, will gash help labour charges and high-tail up processing times. The farm launched the processing line and a modern barn to accommodate it on Saturday.

With four lanes and 16 automated sections sorting the tomatoes, the box gets packed by itself, DeBackere acknowledged. The one human labour required is “to position the box on, empty (it), and opt it off.”

With the old faculty machine, workers had to inch by contrivance of the processing line to name and pack tomatoes into a box – a direction of that was tedious and required extra workers, DeBackere acknowledged.

“With Roma tomatoes, it would opt 10 of us to enact what three of us can (with the modern line),“ he acknowledged.

“Now we dangle hundreds work, so we’re now now not going to be cutting again of us’s jobs. However this would possibly allow us to enact extra with much less and employ of us where they’re wanted extra.”

The system has a built-in camera that takes multiple pictures of the design, figuring out and sorting it in accordance to coloration and weight.

The tomatoes are picked, processed and dispensed to customers all the contrivance by contrivance of the province, along with to main meals terminals in Toronto and Ottawa. The farm’s main customers, DeBackere acknowledged, are the immense chain stores: Metro and Loblaws.

Like many producers in Southwestern Ontario, DeBackere acknowledged his farm continues to salvage hammered by a fundamental labour shortage all the contrivance by contrivance of the pandemic.

“As we’re growing in size, we’re getting extra labour shortages … We want between 50 and 70 extra group of workers on the facility. You might now now not opt up Canadians to enact this work,” he acknowledged, citing the seasonal nature of the work, backbreaking labour, minimum wage and long hours as just a few of the the causes why.

The farm employs 48 international workers — all from Jamaica — and 4 summer time students. Ontario farms count on 20,000 brief international workers every person year.

Between 3,000 to 5,000 cases of Roma tomatoes and 1,000 to 2,000 cases of subject tomatoes are processed and shipped out of the facility everyday. The farm also grows various vegetation, along with peppers, candy corn, potatoes, melons, beans, pumpkins and zucchini.

Although an extended-term investment, DeBackere acknowledged he hopes to survey the modern processing line repay soon.

“We’re shopping for the total hands we are able to to handpick all our design, so here is correct going to again us finally.”

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The Native Journalism Initiative is funded by the Authorities of Canada

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$1M automation system speeds up Elgin County tomato farm