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Suprima Farms
Address: 1388 Middle Dyke Rd Canning, NS, B0P 1H0
Email Address: richard.hennigar@gmail.com
Phone: 902-582-3044
About Us
Suprima Farms was founded in 1992 by third generation apple grower, Richard Hennigar, whose family on both sides has experienced growing, value adding, and marketing apples for the past 112 years. When his brother took over management of the family farm in Sheffield Mills in 1990, Richard had the opportunity to explore another way. He found growing apples conventionally too insecure financially and unsatisfactory environmentally. So knowing the Nova Scotia industry had pioneered Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to minimize the use of pesticides and recognizing the premium people would pay for product with fewer synthetic inputs, in July 1990 he started on his current journey which can be likened to watching an ant cross the room. You know it will eventually get to the other side. You just don't know what path it will take getting there! Motivated by severe environmental illness, the Robinson family in Aylesford grew some certified organic Macintosh and Cortland which Richard turned into 2000 jugs of sweet apple cider. While marketing these, he realized that Carl Gates of Port Williams had experienced health impact from herbicide exposure in the 1960s and had planted scab resistant varieties which didn't require fungicides. These apples became the source for cider and fresh sales at several Maritime coop stores where Richard's farmers' market skills were honed by engaging and sampling with customers in store from Wednesday to Saturday each week. When this model failed for reasons beyond his control, he had to find a use for the apples. Necessity being the mother of invention, he remembered home Popsicle kits and discovered quick freezing of the juice would make a juice bar, and complemented by other Nova Scotia fruit made nine flavours of bars to market to Maritime elementary schools and special events like parades and soccer tournaments. When priority on nutrition waned due to budget cuts in the late 90s he had to find another way of marketing, which led to him joining the WFM 17 years ago and expanding to several other Farmers' Markets currently in Lunenburg, Hubbards, Seaport and Forum in Halifax. His children provide advice and technical support for their Luddite dad and he is blessed with 4 grandchildren so far who may show interest in the decades ahead. "Retirement" will hopefully just mean slowing down a bit, as he recruits more help which he can pay closer to a living wage by the higher return of value adding and direct marketing further supporting the local economy. His twice daily practice of Transcendental Meditation (TM) provides the reserves to keep up the demands he's motivated to meet by the saying, "If you enjoy what you do, you never work a day in your life." He lives his daily motto of only making plans so he has something to change. So enjoy you unsprayed apple a day, the crunchy and liquid way.
Practices
Suprima's mission statement crafted 25 years ago, remains perfectly current, "to provide food products grown locally in an ecologically sustainable manner without the use of synthetic pesticides, fertilizers and preservatives, processed as naturally as possible to optimize safety, nutritional value and flavour." There are multiple nuances in the name. Prima is one of the four varieties grown, which was a major variety in the juice bars, and the only variety in the blue cap cider which was invented out of necessity to make enough cider five years ago in a 48 hour production cycle from idea to delivery of product for sale. The e pronunciation of the letter i of Prima, connotes supreme. German translation for Prima means perfect (ganz prima). It's also a very easy name to say in many languages, something which was a consideration in early plans to take the juice bars global and validated the traditional wisdom on how to have a successful small business in NS -try to have a large one and wait! After the first re-order of juice bars in 1993, Richard, being an eternal optimist, planted a 2 acre block of mostly Prima. Over the years it became the Python block, as in Monty, as he discovered many new ways of growing apples reminded him of the famous Monty Python line "and now for something completely different." Serendipity played a role again in coming up with flattening the mature vegetation to manage the orchard's ground cover. See google video "grass benders" and learn how to pick apples too. This allowed him to develop a production regime that requires only human energy to produce the crop. Heavy pruning required in some other blocks at times utilizes a thirty-seven year old 1840 John Deere tractor and heavy duty mower to mulch the brush and leave it in the orchard, part of a strategy that mimics a forest ecosystem as dead wood and mature vegetation add 2% biomass each year to replace nutrients removed by the crop. The ant hills that flourish without mowing are recycling sulphur back to the surface from its widespread use as a prechemical fungicide and high sulphur levels encourage nitrogen fixing which also feeds the trees. Scab resistant varieties which Beth at Cosmic Tree Essentials also uses in her shampoo and conditioner products allow Suprima to grow with no sprays at all, not even organically acceptable ones. Many apples are attractively blemish free and the "cosmetically challenged" go for juice, which is cold pressed and unpasteurized to preserve the enzymes, anti-oxidants and phytochemicals that optimize health and allow it to turn into one of the world's three miracle health foods apple cider vinegar along with honey and garlic. Along the "fizzy" fermentation path, it becomes a healthy alternative to a soft drink and is safe to drink at every stage and if done in the absence of air makes an excellent hard apple cider as well. The short summary of our juice is fresh, pure, tasty, local, pressed fresh every week or fresh frozen for the summer months, purer than water as the tree filters the water as it makes the apple, tasty as we harvest at full maturity so the apples can finish ripening in storage and working together to press locally at Foote Family Farm in Woodville. Each variety has its virtues. The Redfree is very low acid for O blood types who have higher stomach acidity. Prima hangs on to its tartness even when it is fully ripe and sets up a thirst quenching pink lemonade experience of tart and sweet. Novamac tends to grow small to medium and provides snack size minis, the healthiest apples with highest nutrient levels with high skin to flesh ratio. Novaspy is the ultimate multi-purpose apple as it also meets the culinary gold standard of Northern Spy prized by the pie industry and is available year round. The only certainty is change, so stay tuned.