NIAGARA – An agricultural boost is being planted in Niagara.
The Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation and Ontario Tender Fruit Growers are launching a pilot project to plant up to 130,000 tender fruit tree varieties, such as peaches and pears, to provide a financial boost to Greenbelt growers, strengthen this key economic sector, and increase prosperity in the region.
Working with government and industry partners, the $400,000-investment from the Foundation will help the industry introduce both improved and new tender fruit varieties in the protected Greenbelt that will meet consumer demand for high quality local stone fruit and pears, says a press release issued this week by the Ontario Tender Fruit Growers.
The Foundation’s support consists of a 25 per cent cost-share at an expected $3.50 per tender fruit tree.
Planting will take place in the spring of 2016, with the tender fruit varieties available to consumers in grocery stores, farmers’ markets, on-farm markets, and restaurants as soon as summer 2019.
After three to four years, the harvest from 500 acres of tender fruit trees will provide an injection of about $4 million into Ontario’s economy.
Niagara is the top producer of the province’s tender fruit, one of only two designated specialty crop areas in the nearly two million acres of permanently protected Greenbelt. The tender fruit varieties will benefit from Niagara Region’s sandy soils and the moderating effects on temperatures provided by Lake Ontario and the Niagara River.
“Niagara’s tender fruit industry has been one of the most important drivers of our region’s economy for generations,” said Jim Bradley, MPP, St. Catharines.
“Partnerships are pivotal in moving significant projects forward and I’m pleased to see the Greenbelt Foundation and Ontario Tender Fruit Growers work together to bring more fresh and delicious tender fruit across the province,” added Bradley.
“I’m very excited to see The Ontario Tender Fruit Growers and the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation form this partnership and make this very important grant announcement in support of our local tender fruit growers and the Niagara Region as a whole,” said Wayne Gates, MPP for the Niagara Falls riding.