Pilot Project announcement on October 14 in Niagara-on-the-Lake. From left, Phil Tregunno, chair of the Ontario Tender Fruit Growers, Jim Bradley, MPP St. Catharines, Wayne Gates MPP Niagara Falls, Burkhard Mausberg, CEO of Friends of the Greenbelt, Lord Mayor Pat Dart, Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Last week the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation announced a $400,000 investment in the Niagara tender fruit industry.
Not only is it the largest investment we've made in the last five years into the province’s agricultural sector, it will also result in 13,000 new tender fruit trees in Niagara, and is projected to provide an injection of roughly $4 million into Ontario’s economy.
All that to say - we're pretty excited.
The pilot project, the result of a partnership between the Foundation and Ontario Tender Fruit Growers, is among the first of its kind in Ontario. The project, which emerged due to the leadership of Phil Tregunno, chair of the Ontario Tender Fruit Growers, and everyone on the Ontario Tender Fruit Growers board, will introduce improved and new tender fruit varieties in the protected Greenbelt that will meet consumer demand for local, high quality, and delicious tender fruit.
Here's how it works - the Foundation’s $400,000 will support 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 project will to provide a financial boost to Greenbelt growers, strengthen this key economic sector, and increase prosperity in the Niagara Region.
And, of course, it will mean that Ontarians will have even more opportunities to experience delicious pears, peaches, apricots and more!
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.
We'll keep you updated as the project progresses!