3rd generation grower shares his thoughts on greenhouse vegetable production

Agriculture has definitely shifted over the years.  Traditional field farming is obviously still a necessary option, and will always have a place on peoples’ plates. However, a shift to other forms of food production is necessary as society shifts with the times.  For a few brief years in my early 20s I lived in Toronto, which is Canada’s biggest city.  Now I go back maybe once every few years for concerts and to visit friends.  Every time I drive in on the highway, I’m in shock at how much it has changed, how many massive skyscrapers have populated the downtown core, and I wonder who is living in all these buildings, says Michael Del Ciancio of DC Farms in Ruthven, Ontario. 

Counter to the above example, driving around my home towns of Kingsville and Leamington, an area which is essentially the greenhouse mecca of Canada and possibly North America, I see acres upon acres of greenhouses being built. I can’t help but wonder, who is eating all these vegetables.  It’s quite simple–people need to eat, and we need people to grow the food for people to eat. The comparison doesn’t stop there however. Skyscrapers are common practice in major cities because quite simply you can fit more bodies on less square footage of land.  The same applies to greenhouse acreage. Approximately one acre of peppers or cucumbers is equal to 20 acres of field-grown.  I see that as the biggest impact. The sheer fact that we will be able to grow more food on less land.  

Another area I believe needs focus is the proper governance in areas where these farms will be constructed.   The adjacent communities should understand how modern day agriculture grows safe food, with far less pesticides, and as I stated earlier, with far less square footage. At the same time, the greenhouse itself can be a challenge.  There is an adjustment that takes place when farmland gets covered in 24-foot high glass structures.  With proper communication, and the right leadership, problematic issues can be avoided, and a plethora of great opportunities can be found for many.

One opportunity that stands out is the start of making farming appealing to the younger generation through technology.  I can count on one hand the amount of times in my life met someone under the age of 20 who said “I want to grow up and be a farmer.”  The simple fact is the tradition of generational farms where knowledge and passion are handed down from generation to generation is dying.  Also, modern living has glamourized white collar work, which has driven would-be farmers to live in the aforementioned skyscrapers.  With advancements in tech across the entire industry, and AI in the growing specifically, I believe it’s only a matter of time before young people see a golden opportunity.  A push to educate the youth at a young age, and change the stigma associated with farming will help grow this movement at the grass roots. 

Read the complete article at www.urbanagnews.com.

 


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