Our grantees have assembled teams that include producers, farmers, engineers, scientists, and technologists. They are visionaries and innovators, explorers and risk takers. Their stories are a testament to the power of collaboration, innovation, and dedication in addressing this pressing challenge.

Shepherd Phase Grantees

Supported by grants of up to $1 million, the top 11 grantee teams will develop small-scale, proof-of-concept solutions to generate evidence and learning to be assessed for progression to the Scaling Phase in January 2025.

Ontario Tech University, Osman Hamid
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Université Laval, Martine Dorais
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University of Guelph, Youbin Zheng
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Collège Boréal, Sabine Bouchard
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Bishop’s University, Mirella Aoun
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Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Deborah Henderson
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Western University, Joshua Pearce
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University of Ottawa, Allyson MacLean
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Simon Fraser University, Jim Mattsson
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Toronto Metropolitan University, Lesley G. Campbell and Habiba Bougherara
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University of Guelph, Mike Dixon
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Spark Phase Grantees

In June, 2022 the top 15 grantees were awarded $50,000 to support development of their concept, build-out of their team and preparation of their full proposal (including technical plan) for the Shepherd Phase.

Growing for the future: delivering an approach that supports continuous berry production in Canada and beyond

Investigators: Habiba Bougherara, PhD & Lesley Campbell, PhD, Ryerson University
Co-applicants/collaborators: AgricUltra Advancements Inc.

Year-round greenhouse production of highbush blueberries

Investigator: Jim Mattson, PhD, Simon Fraser University
Co-applicants/collaborators: BC Blueberry Council, Sky Blue Horticulture Ltd.

Seasonal strawberry optimization: a hybrid approach to addressing seasonal challenges of strawberry production and food security in Canada

Investigator: Mike Dixon, PhD, University of Guelph
Co-applicants/collaborators: Mucci Farms, Mucci International Marketing Inc.

Automation and probiotics for improved strawberry production year-round

Investigator: Trevor Charles, PhD, University of Waterloo
Co-applicants/collaborators: McGill, École de technolgie supérieure (ETS), Vérité, Metagenom Bio Life Science

Innovative technologies for out-of-season production of berries in Canada

Investigator: Yves Desjardins, PhD, Université Laval
Co-applicants/collaborators: Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Fraises de l’lle d’Orléans Inc, Star Produce

Year-round alpine strawberry production in the Yukon

Investigator: Michael Deyholos, PhD, University of British Columbia – Okanagan
Co-applicants/collaborators: OUTFRNT Inc, National Research Council of Canada, Replic8 Technologies Inc

Developing an innovative long cane rasberry production system

Investigator: Tony DiGiovanni, PhD, Ontario Horticultural Trades Foundation
Co-applicants/collaborators: Vineland research and Innovation Centre, OMAFRA, Berry Growers of Ontario, Fenwick Berry Farm, First Green Energy, Roxul Inc.

Underground berry farm

Investigator: Marie-Hélène Fillion, PhD, Laurentian University
Co-applicants/collaborators: OMAFRA (Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs), SNOLAB, MIRACO (Mining Innovation, Rehabilitation and Applied Research Corporation), Windsor Salt Ltd.

Year-round greenhouse 3D berry production

Investigator: Xiuming Hao, PhD, Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada
Co-applicants/collaborators: The Ohio State University

Optimizing small-scale strawberry commercial viability in greenhouse for rural areas

Investigator: Johnny Kashama, Collège Boréal
Co-applicants/collaborators: Sault Ste Marie Innovation Centre – Rural Agri-Innovation Network, Smart Indoor Farming Solutions

Innovative, Integrated, Indoor Vertical Production Systems (3I-VPS) for year-round strawberry production

Investigator: Rajasekaran Lada, PhD, Dalhousie University
Co-applicants/collaborators: VerFa Agrifood Innovations Inc, Brilliant Photonics Inc, EtGrow Inc, Fenwick Berry Farm

Automation and autonomy for growing strawberries in greenhouses

Investigator: Medhat Moussa, PhD, University of Guelph
Co-applicants/collaborators: OMAFRA

Universal LED program using machine learning for controlled environment strawberry production

Investigator: Yuksel Asli Sari, PhD, Queen’s University
Co-applicants/collaborators: Genoptic

Berry integrated plant production system

Investigator: Praveen Saxena, PhD, University of Guelph
Co-applicants/collaborators: York University, Upper Canada Growers, E.Z. Grow Farms Ltd.

Novel strawberry grow systems: maximizing production yield

Investigator: Megan Shapka, MEd, Lethbridge College
Co-applicants/collaborators: Meteor Systems, Sunterra Greenhouse