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Enhancing Local Food in Northern Ontario: Case Studies

The Northern Ontario Heritage Fund defines Northern Ontario as "all areas north of, and including, the districts of Parry Sound and Nipissing" (NOHFC, 2011). As such, the north is divided into 11 districts and

has a land area of approximately 802,000 square kilometres (Nelson & Stroink, 2013). Given the north's vastness, the region often gets over generalized. However, each district in northern Ontario varies greatly from the next with differences in soil characteristics and climate, among others. It is important to understand that the information received from each district may be drastically affected by the prominence of agricultural production from one small region of the individual district. For the purposes of this project, case studies on the following districts were conducted: Algoma District, Cochrane District, Sudbury District, Temiskaming District, and the Thunder Bay District. 

  • Cochrane district contains large areas of Class 3 and 4 soils which provides ideal conditions for future agricultural expansion to occur (Agriculture Canada, 1972).

  • A recent article from the OGRA Milestones Conference highlighted the Cochrane district as a region with the greatest potential for agricultural expansion in Northern Ontario (Korman, 2016).

  • The Cochrane district contain's the Ontario portion of the clay belt, which is a fertile agricultural region (FarmNorth, 2017a).

  • The clay belt in northern Ontario has roughly 4.4 million acres of land that is appropriate for agriculture, while the area also receives plenty of rain and is beginning to experience longer growing seasons (Korman, 2016).

  • In 2013, the total farm cash receipts of main commodities for the Cochrane district was $7.4 million dollars (OMAFRA, 2014b). 

Cochrane District
  • The Canadian Land Inventory map indicates that there are significant pockets of Class 3, 4 and 5 soils in the Thunder Bay District with limited instances of Class 2 soils (Agriculture Canada, 1971).

  • According to the 2011 Census of Agriculture, the district had 59,073 acres in agricultural production with $23.7 million in farm cash receipts for main commodities. Thunder Bay’s production is quite diversified when compared to other Northern Ontario districts (OMAFRA, 2014e).

  • The district's main production derives from 'other' crops and animals, similar to the other Northern Ontario districts, however there is also a significant presence in greenhouse, nursery and forticulture production, as well as dairy and beef production (ibid).

  • Recently there has been an increase in value-added productions such as stone-milled flour, wool and elk meat (FarmNorth, 2017d).

  • It has also been noted the potential for increased opportunities in more specialized vegetable production exists in the Thunder Bay district (ibid).  

Thunder Bay District
  • The majority of the districts land is Class 7 (bedrock), however in the region around Lake Nipissing and Wanapitei Lake there pockets of Class 3, 4 and 5 soils (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 2013b).

  • Soil in the Sudbury district tends to be acidic and needs ample drainage to be productive (FarmNorth, 2017b).

  • As the adjacent chart indicates, the majority of the districts production centers around other crops and animals, and beef production, similar to the trends across northern Ontario as a whole (OMAFRA, 2014c).

  • In 2013, the total land used for agriculture in Greater Sudbury was 20, 067 acres compared to Sudbury which was 45, 981 acres (ibid).

  • In 2013, the total farm cash receipts for main commodities for Greater Sudbury was $6.5 million and for Sudbury, $8.5 million (ibid). 

Sudbury District
  • According to the 2011 census, the total land area used for agriculture in the district was 192,307 acres (OMAFRA, 2014d).

  • In 2011, Temiskaming district produced $55.9 million dollars in total farm cash receipts of main commodities (ibid).

  • The main areas of agricultural production within the district are dairy, oilseed & grain, 'other' crops and beef (FarmNorth, 2017c).

  • An agricultural research station is located in New Liskeard and the region as a whole has 190,000 acres in production (ibid). 

Temiskaming District
Algoma District
  • There are pockets of Class 3 and 4 soils which have great potential for agricultural productivity however, these lands are mainly located adjacent to water bodies (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 2013a).

  • There is another significant section of Class 4 soils near the Goulais Bay (ibid).  

  • Sault Ste. Marie has Class 4 and some Class 3 soil however this is limited and is surrounded by Class 7 soils (ibid).  

  • According to the 2011 Agriculture Census, the total land used for agriculture in Algoma was 81,006 acres of land (OMAFRA, 2014a). 

  • The 2011 Agriculture Census also indicated that the Algoma district earned 21.7 million in farm cash receipts for main commodities.

  • In 2013, Algoma districts main agricultural commodities by share of farm cash receipts were dairy(15.7%, fruits and vegetables (14.1%), soybeans (12.8%), corn (11.3%) and 'other' (10.7%) (OMAFRA, 2014a).

 
 
 
 
 
References

Agriculture Canada. (1972). Canada Land Inventory: Soil Capability for Agriculture- Cochrane

Agriculture Canada. (1975). Canada Land Inventory: Soil Capability for Agriculture. 

Agriculture Canada. (1971).  Canada Land Inventory: Soil Capability for Agriculture- Thunder Bay. 

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. (2013a). Soils of Blind River- Sault Ste Marie Area (No Report). 

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. (2013b). Soils of Sudbury Area (No Report). 

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. (2013c). Soils of North Bay Area (No Report). 

Farm North. (2017a). Cochrane. 

Farm North. (2017b). Sudbury. 

Farm North. (2017c). Temiskaming. 

Farm North. (2017d). Thunder Bay.

Korman, A. (2016). A billion dollars for northern Ontario. Milestones Conference 2016, Volume 16, Number 1. 

Nelson, C. & Stroink, M. (2013). Northern Ontario. In Knezevic, I., Landman, K., Blay-Palmer, A. and Nelson, E. (Eds.), Models and Best Practices for Building Sustainable Food Systems in Ontario and Beyond (pp. 16-67). Guelph, ON: Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. 

Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC). (2011). Northern Ontario Districts. 

 

Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). (2016). County Agriculture Profiles. 

Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). (2014a). Algoma District at a Glance. 

Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). (2014b). Cochrane District at a Glance. 

Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). (2014c). Sudbury District at a Glance.

Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). (2014d). Temiskaming District at a Glance. 

Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). (2014e). Thunder Bay District at a Glance. 

Enhancing Local Food in

Northern Ontario