Richard Grant Howes

(1956 - 2017)

Inducted in 2024

Origin: Prince Edward County

Nominated by: The County Cider Company (Picton, Ontario)

Specialty: Agri-business, Agritourism, Crops, Crops - Fruit, Horticulture

In 1982, Grant Howes and his brother established a successful 50-acre orchard in Adolphustown.  From the mid-1970s to 2017, Grant also helped to manage the home farm, Howes Orchards at Waupoos, Prince Edward County. In 1995, he established The County Cider Company which became the longest producing cidery in Ontario and here he planted 10,000 new trees. He selected varieties for more complexity and tannin and hand grafted his trees with cuttings from many locations. He planted both dessert/culinary apples and specialized heritage/cider apples and had a large private collection of rare European heritage cider apple trees. He also experimented with new blocks of apple trees on dwarf root stocks with various row spacing and trellising. He promoted environmentally sustainable farming techniques, minimizing chemical sprays, and was aware of how much carbon his orchards sequestered. Grant participated in multiyear research projects with the Ontario Craft Cidery Association and the University of Guelph. In 2009, he received the Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence for producing Ontario ice cider. He also planted the first vinifera grape vineyard in Lennox-Addington in 2000.

All of his orchard innovations and product development did not deter him from major commitments to the broader industry. He was a founding member of Fruit Wines of Ontario in 1992, the Prince Edward County Winegrowers in 1999, and of the Ontario Craft Cider Association in 2013. Grant lobbied Ontario governments for fair taxation and official recognition of hard cider as an alcoholic beverage. Finally, in February 2017, one month after Grant’s death,  the “Ontario Small Cidery and Small Distillery Support Program” was passed enabling eligible cider businesses to scale up.

Grant was also noted for his commitment to education as he sat on advisory boards for both Niagara College and Loyalist College. He mentored several startup cideries and he paid his staff to upgrade their knowledge of apple growing, cider making and administration. There are now 10 cider facilities in Prince Edward County and 100 across the province.  Much of this growth is a result of the initiatives by Grant Howes in agronomy, lobbying, education, and research.

It is innovators and visionaries such as Richard Grant Howes who are most deserving of induction into the Ontario Agricultural Hall of Fame.