Greenhouse Canada

News
Lending a hand to food banks


September 28, 2009
By Dave Harrison

There have been some amazing industry announcements over the years, largely to do with innovations or expansions. It has often been said that the greenhouse sector is one of the jewels of Canadian horticulture, but that would be shortchanging its accomplishments in technology, marketing and export success. It has become a jewel of Canadian agriculture in general.

There have been some amazing industry announcements over the years, largely to do with innovations or expansions. It has often been said that the greenhouse sector is one of the jewels of Canadian horticulture, but that would be shortchanging its accomplishments in technology, marketing and export success. It has become a jewel of Canadian agriculture in general.

Sales last year topped $2.1 billion, a decline of 7.6 per cent over 2007 totals, according to Statistics Canada, but that’s a reflection of the recession. Greenhouses employ some 38,375 people, both full-time and part-time workers, with a total payroll of some $544 million.

Advertisment

And a news story earlier this summer demonstrates the role the industry can play within the social welfare network of its communities, both local and regional.

Nature Fresh Farms, a 67-acre Leamington-based pepper operation, announced plans to donate peppers this year to feed Ontario’s growing numbers of less fortunate families. The decision was made after company founder and president Peter Quiring connected with Turning Point, a rehab centre in Hamilton, Ontario. Once fully operational, the pepper donation initiative will be the largest giving program of fresh fruits and vegetables in the country.

“We are facing tough times in Ontario, and we all need to do more to help each other,” said Quiring, whose company is the largest single producer of yellow, red and orange peppers in the province. “I was inspired by the great work being done by the people at Turning Point, who in turn introduced me to this opportunity to help those who are less fortunate.”

Officials involved with the program are hoping these efforts will lead to tax changes to encourage other growers to participate, putting millions of dollars worth of fresh, Ontario-grown tomatoes, cucumbers and other fruits and vegetables on food bank shelves across the province annually. This is a great suggestion, a small incentive to growers, but something that would have a major impact on those using food bank services. The tax credit would help offset the cost of managing such programs.

There are already donated crop tax credits in place in many U.S. states, including Colorado, North Carolina and Oregon.

According to the Ontario Association of Food Banks (OAFB), over 330,000 Ontarians are assisted by food banks every month.

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture is onboard with the project, and is working with a number of agricultural partners and the OAFB to lobby the province on the tax credit proposal. “It’s important that everyone have access to healthy local food,” said OFA president Bette Jean Crews. “These efforts support Ontario food banks and local farmers, which helps ensure a sustainable food system for everyone.”

Fruit or vegetable growers sometimes become frustrated with low commodity prices, and don’t bother to harvest crops; market prices don’t reflect harvesting costs. There are also times when yields are much beyond what the market can absorb. Such a food bank/tax incentive program would ensure the food doesn’t go to waste.


Print this page

Related



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*