BERWICK – A Kings County farm and food processing business is getting a sizeable boost from the federal government.
Sawler Gardens Limited, established in 1959, recently received $250,000 in repayable assistance from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) for the purchase of new processing and sorting equipment designed to increase output while reducing food processing times.
“Sawler Gardens will now be able to purchase a new optic sorter used to remove defective produce. This new processing equipment will have more accurate shape recognition and will be able to identify and remove unacceptable products from the line,” an ACOA press release reads.
“Employees that had been manually sorting vegetables will now have the opportunity to operate this new equipment, check quality assurance, and label, box and ship products.”
The introduction of the new equipment will allow employees to devote more attention to technical work, the prepared statement from ACOA said.
The loan is being distributed through ACOA’s Business Development Program as part of a commitment outlined in the Atlantic Growth Strategy.
West Nova MP Colin Fraser recently visited Sawler Gardens for a tour of the Berwick-based enterprise that farms 400 acres of land and processes about 100 acres of crop for a variety of local farmers.
“Upgraded manufacturing and processing equipment will greatly improve Sawler Gardens’ ability to ensure top-notch quality products reach retailers in a timely manner,” said Fraser in a media release announcing the release of the repayable financial assistance from ACOA.
The equipment upgrades will make the Annapolis Valley-based business more competitive on a global scale, said Sawler Gardens co-owner Mark Sawler in a prepared statement.
“The updated grading line with the new optic sorter used in the production of baby mini carrots and turnip sticks will greatly assist with reliability and improved performance,” he said.
“This line upgrade will allow us to continue to be competitive against the imported products from the U.S. and continue to grow the number of brands that we supply, including private labels such as Compliments and Farmers Market. We are grateful for the support on this project and the opportunity to strengthen our business.”
Sawler Gardens grows carrots, onions, beets, parsnips and turnips for grocery stores across Atlantic Canada.
The company employs 15 full-time workers and about 65 seasonal employees.