Ontario’s greenhouse vegetable farmers are embracing new innovations in order to find new ways to reinvigorate our economy, embrace our obligations for environmental sustainability, and ensure that everyone has access to safe and nutritious food.
Although we have faced so many difficulties during this pandemic, we as Canadians haven’t had to face any systemic food supply shortages.
Although there were challenges, most Canadians never had to worry about a lack of food at the grocery store. This was due to the hard work and dedication of farmers, agri-food employees, food processors, retailers, truck drivers and many more. In other words, while the food supply chain was tested, it remained fairly resilient.
In fact, according to the 2020 Public Trust Research Report released by the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity, 87 percent of consumers trusted that the food system would ensure the availability of healthy food for Canadians.
Most of us can consider ourselves fortunate, but that doesn’t mean we can be complacent. We must look toward the future to find new ways to reinvigorate our economy, embrace our obligations for environmental sustainability, and ensure that everyone has access to safe and nutritious food.
Canada boasts one of the most robust greenhouse produce sectors in the world. In Ontario alone, we have one of the highest concentrations of greenhouses in North America, with over 220 farmers growing delicious food on over 3,300 acres. That’s over 2,500 football fields! When you consider that a greenhouse can yield over 20 times more per square metre, with less water and fewer inputs, all enabled by high-tech production – especially compared to traditional field methods – you quickly realize how vital greenhouse vegetable production is to our resilient, prosperous, sustainable, and equitable future. Every year, Ontario greenhouse vegetable farmers grow over 476,000 tonnes of produce that feeds Canada and the world.
Looking toward the future, the Ontario greenhouse produce sector is embracing new innovations in lighting and automation. Coupled with the protective environment of a greenhouse, this gives farms the ability to grow food 365 days a year and gives Canadians reliable fresh local produce all year long.
With these new technologies and longer growing seasons come new careers, adding to the over 13,000 people currently employed by Ontario’s greenhouses. These new careers will showcase a broad scope of talent, with increasing demands for more S.T.E.M.-based positions focusing on biosecurity, engineering, food safety, and robotics.
As technologies improve, greenhouses will become even more efficient, improving their energy and water usage. The majority of Ontario greenhouses already utilize water recycling systems and many farms have incorporated cleaner energy sources such as solar power.
Growers continue to innovate on packaging, ensuring the safety of products while also addressing the need to significantly reducing plastic waste. Developments such as fully compostable pulp molded trays and 100 percent compostable cucumber wraps are some of the changes that are already being utilized.
Our growers take pride in what they do and together we will re-build a province that we’ll all benefit from and be proud of.