Editorial: December 2013

November 25, 2013
Written by
There’s always a lot to get excited about when attending the Canadian Greenhouse Conference, but this year was extra special.

The CGC, held each year just before the Thanksgiving weekend, offers two days of seminars and workshops, along with extensive networking opportunities and a one-stop-shopping trade show.

The show, which began at the University of Guelph before moving to Toronto for a few years, is now held in Niagara Falls, which allows attendees to extend their visit by a day or two for a little R&R after a busy season.

The conference is a winner in so many ways.

But this year featured a visit by a federal cabinet minister who came bearing very good news indeed. Parliamentary Secretary Pierre Lemieux, representing Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, announced new research funding of $2.7 million to the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers (OGVG).

Some of the research will focus on improving the year-round production of greenhouse cucumber, pepper, and tomato crops, including improvements to yield and produce quality.

This is great news for the industry across Canada.For starters, it fits in so well with the “buy local” movement. Most provinces have programs encouraging consumers to check labels when they have a choice. At present, only a few growers across Canada have year-round production, so “buy local” market demands can’t realistically be met with greenhouse vegetables alone.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, who is also Minister of Agriculture and Food, recently challenged Ontario’s agri-food industry to double its growth rate and create more than 120,000 new jobs by 2020. Year-round greenhouse vegetable production would be a great fit under Premier Wynne’s objectives.

Encouraging local food production in winter makes sense. There has already been extensive work undertaken on year-round greenhouse vegetable production at a number of centres across Canada, including the Greenhouse and Processing Crops Research Centre of AgCanada, located in Harrow, Ontario. LED, HPS and plasma lighting studies, for example, are also well established at Harrow. Lighting strategies are essential to the viability of year-round growing. It is just a question of which system, or combination of systems, will offer the best solution.

Ottawa has certainly stepped up to help steer this initiative, and the Ontario government seems to be increasingly supportive of the farm community.

This investment in year-round production technologies is a major boost for the greenhouse community across Canada.

It’s also great news for Canadian consumers.         

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