Southern Ontario has lost much of its agricultural land, mostly due to urban sprawl. Over 2,000 farms and 150,000 acres (61,000 ha) of farmland in the GTA alone were lost to production in the two decades between 1976 and 1996. From 1976 to 2011, 1.1 million hectares of farmland has essentially disappeared in Ontario, according to Statistics Canada data cited by Matt Setzkorn, acting executive director of Ontario Farmland Trust. There remains about 4.9 million hectares of good growing land in the province.

Farming in the Greenbelt is vital to our provinces’ economy and food security. Ontario’s Greenbelt provides us with local food and jobs to thousands of people. In Ontario, 130,000 people are employed in the agri-food/beverage cluster, contributing $50 billion annually to our economy. Our farmers are landowners and stewards of the Greenbelt, feeding our cities and caring for the land that their businesses depend upon. Strong local farms help preserve precious agricultural land, which we will increasingly rely on as the global food crisis deepens. It’s also better for our environment and climate. When we eat local food, we dramatically reduce greenhouse gas and smog emissions from transportation.

And it tastes better! Local food is fresher and healthier because it’s harvested when it’s ripe rather than when it needs to be shipped.

###Greenbelt Food facts!

  • There are approximately 7,000 farms in the Greenbelt.
  • The Greenbelt contains some of the most valuable agricultural lands in Canada, providing fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy, beef, pork and poultry products and grapes for prize-winning wines.
  • Specialty farms in the Greenbelt produce everything from sheep and lambs, to mushrooms, maple syrup, and horticultural goods (flowers and plants).
  • The Greenbelt produces over one quarter of Ontario’s apples (26.57%); 87.63% of Ontario’s peaches; 50.04% of Ontario’s sour cherries; over 85% of Ontario’s grapes; and 42.59% of Ontario’s raspberries.