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Fruit farm plans major expansion with new automated equipment

Noggins Corner Farm hopes to more than double its production

2 min read
caption Loose apricots sit on a grocer’s shelf in St. John's.
Michael Chubbs

A Nova Scotia fruit farm is hoping to tap into new markets and expand its season after upgrading its processing and packaging system.

Noggins Corner Farm Ltd. is buying a piece of automated equipment called a CombiSort, which will be tailored to the farm’s products and operation.

“This allows us to pack not only apples but also allows us to pack peaches, pears, nectarines and apricots,” said Beth Pattillo, food safety manager at Noggins. “Most packing lines do maybe apples and pears but don’t do them all.”

Noggins farms fruit on 468 acres of orchards in the Annapolis Valley. It also produces cider, apple chips and other foods.

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Noggins expects to more than double its production with the new machine. Pattillo said it will enable the farm to access other markets in Canada and the United States.

“We would look at moving our peaches into the eastern parts of the United States, possibly the pears particularly into the eastern parts of the U.S. and then into Ontario,” said Pattillo. Noggins products could also hit shelves in New Brunswick, P.E.I., and N.L.

The upgrade also means Noggins will be able to offer more products locally.

“It’s going to allow us to increase our production of apple chips, work on our syrup, our juice, that type of thing,” Pattillo said.

“Then if we are able to store and pack those different types of fruit, then we can extend our season, not totally to 12 months of the year, but we can extend our season in some of the other fruits we produce.”

Noggins currently employs 60 people full time and hires an additional 30 seasonal workers for harvest. The upgrade likely means an additional three or four full-time jobs, as well as other jobs, Pattillo said.

“Most of our harvest is through seasonal workers, so we will probably look at an increase in seasonal workers. If there are locals available, then they are definitely hired.”

Noggins has received a $600,000 loan from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. It expects the upgrades to be finished in late spring or early summer of 2021.

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About the author

Michael Chubbs

Michael Chubbs is a reporter based in St. John's, Newfoundland & Labrador. he/him

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