Government Grant Helps Rural Farmer’s Product Development

Text by Lindsay Grummett

When Margaret Cornect and her husband bought land in rural Nova Scotia over 20 years ago, they decided to start a blueberry farm.

“We realised we would need bees to pollinate the blueberries so I bought two beehives,” says Cornect. Since then Cornect Family Farm’s two beehives grew into 300. Honey became the farm’s primary focus and the company’s product line has expanded from liquid and creamed honey to spreads, sauces, skincare and candles.

“I didn’t have anyone to teach me about all of this,” she explains. “It all happened through trial and error.”

Last year, Margaret was contacted by Adam Wile, an agriculture transition officer with Nova Scotia’s Department of Agriculture. Wile asked to bring professors and researchers from St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish to the Cornect farm in New Glasgow to review Margaret’s process.

“I showed them everything in a beehive – the honey, the beeswax, the propolis – anything that you can use that’s available and they said if we had any problems, they’d like to look at them and see if they could help us in any way.”

Cornect has been adding products to the family brand since she started the company, but has recently been struggling with the development of a new idea, which she is not able to describe in detail. “I know there’s a solution to it, but I can only deal with it from what I know. They can look at it from the scientific point and tell me why it isn’t working.”

Cornect applied for and received an Engage Grant from Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), which is designed to bridge the gap between Canadian companies and university experts. St. Francis Xavier researchers including food physicist, Dr. David Pink, have been investigating the honey issue and expect to have results by August.

Cornect is hopeful the results will help expand her company further and is grateful for the interest in her small business. “This is a truly unique opportunity for a small, rural based business to collaborate in applied research with a small, focused and excellent university with an anticipated end result that would benefit us all.”

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