by BETTER FARMING STAFF
They may have flinched at the juice’s taste but three of the five entrepreneurs on CBC’s popular show, Dragon’s Den, decided that juice made from wheat grass or broccoli sprouts was worth a $75,000 investment.
Now, the provincial government has given the registered organic products - grown, harvested, extracted, packaged and sold by Garden Gate Farms near Barrie - the nod in its most recent round of regional innovations awards.
Last week, the farm and its owners, Anna Small-Adams and Carl Adams, were among six recipients of regional Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence recognized in a ceremony in Lindsay. They were also only one of two individual farms owners that received the honour this year in an area spanning the City of Kawartha Lakes and the York Region as well as Peterborough, Prince Edward and Simcoe Counties.
Each year, the award recognizes 55 outstanding innovations developed by farmers, agri-food businesses and organizations.
Other recipients in the area were: Lenberg Farms, Oakwood; Kawartha Choice FarmFresh/Greater Peterborough Area Economic Development Corporation, Peterborough; Taste the County, Bloomfield; Holland Marsh Growers’ Association, Newmarket; and Shandiz Natural Foods, Markham.
It took the Adams two tries to convince the dragons to invest in their company. Their first request, for $275,000 representing a 33 per cent share in the company to help finance special high pressure, cold pasteurization equipment was at first treated with interest until the dragons tried it.
“That smells like the armpit of a toad,” said Kevin O’Leary, who made his fortune in software and establishing a mutual fund company.
On a second chance show in January, however, the couple’s resourcefulness in acquiring access to the equipment they needed to make their product, along with news that they had doubled their earnings to $250,000, acquired two new distributors and planned to expand their market across Canada, earned the admiration and investment of Arlene Dickinson, CEO Venture Communications.
“I do think there is a huge opportunity,” she said during the January episode.
However, technology entrepreneur Robert Herjavec remained unconvinced. “It just tastes awful,” he said of the wheat grass juice cocktail the couple prepared for the show’s “dragons.”
The other dragons who bought in (each of the three put in $25,000 and together hold 40 per cent of the company) were: W. Brett Wilson, chairman, Canoe Financial and Jim Treliving, chairman, Boston Pizza International Inc.
The couple have also introduced frozen versions of their juice that they plan to sell not only into their current customer base but also into the restaurant industry. BF