As you drive through Durham Region, you are greeted by acres of green, luscious farmland. You see cows peacefully grazing in the field, tractors driving down the roads and corn growing up tall in the field. Over 80% of Durham Region’s land is rural and the total farmland area in the region is 292,815 acres! The vast amount of farmland in Durham Region has made it a leader in agriculture. Annually, Durham Region produces $321.7 million to Ontario’s total farm production.
As the largest economic driver in the region, agriculture is part of the economic, social and environmental fabric of Durham. Over 1,400 Durham farm families derive income from their farms. Additionally, the agriculture sector provides many job opportunities. There are 16,778 employees working in the agriculture food value food chain. Durham Region is home to a wide variety of different sectors of farming.
In Durham, there is…
5 producers of pork
457 farms registered with beef cattle
90 sheep farms
59 vegetable and melon farms
101 greenhouse, nursery and floriculture production farms
48 poultry and egg farms
278 oilseed and grain farmers
81 dairy cattle and milk
43 fruit and nut tree farms
488 other farms
*Numbers are based on available information. Actual numbers may vary slightly.
There are a number of characteristics that make Durham Region an ideal location for farmers. In an interview for Think Big, Think Durham, Kirk Kemp, President of Algoma Orchards, a large apple orchard in Newcastle, Ontario, speaks about why he believes Durham Region is a great place for agriculture businesses to set up shop;
“Durham is an excellent place for us to do business because we’re right on the north shore of Lake Ontario. This makes it a great area to grow apples, plus it is not far for us to deliver to our customers who only live an hour away”
Additionally, Kemp highlighted the talented pool of skilled potential employees that are available to agriculture businesses in Durham Region. You can watch Kemp’s full interview here;
With so many farms within the area, there are many opportunities for customers to buy local, fresh produce. Over 200 farms within the region report direct to consumer sales. This provides the local community many opportunities to get to know their local farmers and enjoy fresh food. In addition, many local communities run a farmer's markets, where residents can connect with local producers and buy local, farm fresh products!
Many farms within Durham Region have been around for multiple generations. This creates a strong connection for farmers with their farm and their community. The passion they feel for agriculture motivates them to continue producing and contributing to food security in their communities. They are committed to high-quality, environmentally friendly farming practices.
“Agriculture in Durham Region is a vital service that ensures residents have access to fresh, high-quality and safe food options to feed themselves and their families” –John Henry, Regional Chair and Chief Executive Officer for The Regional Municipality of Durham.
As farming is such an integral part of the Durham Region, agricultural awareness and education are important to many local farmers. Durham Farm Connections began with the mission to provide Durham Region with agricultural education opportunities and spread agricultural awareness. Beginning in 2006, volunteers began to provide opportunities for the local community to learn about farming and connect them with local farmers. Durham Farm Connections believes that it is important that people know about the food they are eating. We aim to shrink the knowledge gap between farmers and consumers regarding food and farming.
A few of our note-worthy programs include;
Grade 3 Education Program
High School Education Program
All About Farming! Trailer
Active Social Media Pages
Celebrate Agriculture Gala-
The agricultural sector in Durham Region provides the community with more local jobs, strengthens the local economy & builds a strong sense of community. Buying local supports your local farmers and ensures that the agriculture industry will continue to thrive in Durham Region!
For more information on agriculture in Durham, check out Durham Farm Connections on Facebook @durhamfarmconnections and at on Instagram @farmconnections