Looking in any direction just outside whatever city or town you find yourself in, will bring you into some of Canada’s most thriving agricultural farms and agri-businesses.
So what if we have lots of agriculture here in Chatham-Kent? What is agriculture all about, anyway? Well, agriculture is a fast moving, quickly changing, innovative sector in every part of the world. Here in Chatham-Kent, agriculture is a $3 billion sector. That is huge!
So just what is agriculture all about, especially for people not from the farm? I grew up in the city and during my childhood, I thought the meat on our supper table came from Martin’s Butcher Shop around the corner from our house. I thought the milk on our breakfast table came from a glass bottle delivered by our Silverwood’s Dairy milkman, and the bread for our sandwiches came from the Jackson Bakery bread man with the horse.
I had no concept at all how the farming world operated or anything about where my food came from. I found out later, and am still learning, that agriculture is massive, intriguing, and very complex.
Agriculture is obviously about growing crops and raising livestock. However, agriculture is so much more than that. It is also about Integrated Pest Management, variable rate application, soil management, GPS systems, crop rotation, precision planting, sustainable agriculture, pollination, certified seed, nutrient management, and so much more.
Many Chatham-Kent citizens, especially younger ones, have no connection to farming. Born and raised in the city leaves little opportunity to explore or understand how agriculture affects their daily lives. Chatham-Kent and the former Kent County has an amazing history of farming. Our growers are the best anywhere in the world in terms of knowledge, expertise, experience, and care for the many food products they grow for us and their care for the land they farm. We have some of the best soil in Canada, capable of growing anything from soybeans to sour cherries, corn to cucumbers, or raising anything from cattle to sheep, or pork to quail.
Our Chatham-Kent producers are continually taking courses and attending workshops to make sure they are up to date with the latest advances in agricultural technology and farming practices. We are so fortunate to have the University of Guelph Ridgetown Campus as a hub of agricultural research and learning, both for our local producers and those across our province.
One of the many advantages of living in Chatham-Kent is the vast amount of farmland surrounding each of our communities. In fact, over 90% of Chatham-Kent’s land base is for farming purposes. Wherever you live, a quick drive gets you into our beautiful countryside to see first-hand our agricultural sector in action.
So just how significant is agriculture in Chatham-Kent?
Did you know that Chatham-Kent is the:
- NUMBER ONE in tomato production in all of Canada
- NUMBER ONE in seed corn production in all of Canada
- NUMBER ONE in pumpkin production in all of Canada
- NUMBER ONE producer of carrots in all of Canada
- NUMBER ONE producer of cucumbers in all of Canada
- NUMBER ONE in black tobacco production in all of Canada
- NUMBER ONE in Brussels sprouts production in all of Canada
- NUMBER ONE in sugar beet production in all of Ontario
- NUMBER ONE in green pea production in all of Ontario
- NUMBER ONE in quail production in all of Ontario
- NUMBER TWO in field pepper production in all of Ontario
- NUMBER TWO in banana pepper production in all of Ontario
Did you also know that Chatham-Kent is home to Wheatley, the largest commercial fresh water fishing port in the world? Fish is food too!
Chatham-Kent now accounts for over 8% of Ontario’s total greenhouse area, which is up 77% from 2011. We grow over 20% of Ontario’s total vegetable crop, including close to 3,800 acres of delicious sweet corn.
Agriculture is a leading economic driver here in Chatham-Kent and continues to grow, raise, and produce food, but also to grow jobs. In fact, agriculture and agriculture related businesses account for over 16,000 jobs throughout Chatham-Kent.
Chatham-Kent has so many opportunities ahead of us. We are fortunate in our community to have many great leaders and the sectors they represent, including those in agriculture, manufacturing, commercial enterprises, research and innovation, and so many more.
Chatham-Kent agriculture has a valued history, and with our innovative producers, agriculture will continue to have a valued future here in our community.