Food Production Trends to Celebrate on Canadian Ag Day
By Alex Frew, Customer Service & Sales Associate at A.M.A. Horticulture Inc.
Today is Canadian Ag Day. It’s a day to celebrate the dedication of Canadian farmers and growers, the innovation they’re bringing to improve food production and sustainability, and the connections they’re making with consumers so that we can better understand and appreciate what we eat, and where it comes from.
Sustainable food production has been an interest of mine since my undergraduate days at the University of Guelph in the Crop Science and Horticulture program. And judging by my bookmarked articles and websites, you might say it goes beyond interest!
So in recognition of Canadian Ag Day, I thought I would share the top three things that have me excited about the future of food production in Canada right now.
1. Consumer ‘foodscaping’ trend
If you haven’t heard the term yet, you will. This growing trend is about maximizing available green space – especially urban green space – to increase the availability of fresh food. So think landscaping, but with edible plants. Consumers are planting leafy greens, herbs, tomatoes and berries right alongside perennials and annuals to create gardens that are beautiful and productive.
This concept especially took off during the pandemic, and garden centres saw an increase in edible plant and seed sales. At A.M.A., we saw an interest in using Al’s Flower Pouch as a niche container for vertical edible gardens.
More interest in agriculture at the consumer level is something to celebrate, and foodscaping is a clear sign of a growing appreciation for food production.
2. Greenhouses supporting ‘locally grown’ movement
As farmers bring crops into greenhouses and increase their use of hydroponic growing techniques, we’re seeing longer seasons for locally grown produce. Greenhouse-grown berries are a great example of this. Typically, at this time of year, store-bought strawberries would come from California or Mexico. But today, in February in Canada, I can buy Ontario-grown berries at my Loblaws.
Leafy greens are another example. Growers are building ponds to produce and sell hydroponic lettuces, kale, kohlrabi – you name it! – all year round. These products are available locally and integrated into the communities where they are grown, by restaurants, school boards and other institutions. Thiel’s Greenhouses in Alberta, for example, has seen such success with its leafy greens production that it recently launched a spin-off e-commerce store called Naked Greens.
The payoff isn’t just local produce. It’s less carbon footprint, more food security and fresh, quality products. Less trucking (often across borders), less movement of pests across jurisdictions, less time from greenhouse-to-table, and picking times that are closer to full ripeness.
This type of growing can also increase access to fresh produce in rural and remote communities, which for a country like Canada, is really important.
The third thing I’m excited about really gets to the root of the issue when it comes to sustainable food production. And that’s an increasing interest in root quality. Whether in urban forestry or in farming, people are experiencing the same issue. As we experience climate change, we need to produce trees that can withstand windthrow and other harsh weather events. Farmers can’t afford to have a portion of their orchards blow over every summer. Root quality matters now more than ever, because roots play a vital role in making sure trees have a solid footing in the soil.
On #CdnAgDay, I want to raise my fork to all the farmers and growers who are working hard (they’re farmers – they always work hard) to advance agriculture in this country! Learn more about Canadian Ag Day here and celebrate farmers using the #CdnAgDay hashtag.
What has you excited about the future of agriculture? Share your thoughts with us on social media by tagging @amahort!