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In recent years, sustainability has become an integral part of our world. As we learn more about the damaging effects we are having on our environment, the more we strive to do more to minimize the damage. Farmers are no exception to this.
The term “sustainability,” as it is applied to agriculture, describes a holistic, long-term approach to business on-farm that means maximising economic and environmental stability, equity and health of the farm, business and family. In the pursuit of sustainable agriculture, farmers must balance three interactive components;
- Economic Profitability
- Environmental Stewardship
- Social Responsibility
Let’s talk about these components.
Farms are businesses. For farmers, it is often their sole source of income. For a farm to be sustainable, they must be economically viable. Many people believe that environmentally sustainable farming practices are much too expensive for farmers to implement, however this is not true. While implementing practice that improve the environmental sustainability of a farm may not translate into immediate economic profits, there will be positive economic impacts.
For example, if a farmer diversifies their crops, it can aid in the reduction of financial risk over time, as well as improving water quality and increasing environmental benefits, which will ultimately raise the value of the farm itself.
In the agriculture industry, environmental stewardship is often what first comes to mind when people think of sustainability. Environmental stewardship uses ecologically sound practices that have a neutral or positive impact on the natural and non-renewable resources on-farm. It can mean working towards reversing existing damage. For example, soil erosion or draining the wetlands can help reverse existing damage.
Taking steps to prevent the future degradation of land and water resources can enhance environmental stewardship. This can be done through conservation practices such as;
- Naturalizing riparian zones
- Using smart cattle-watering practices
- Establishing proper cover crops
An important factor in sucessful environmental stewardship is soil health. To ensure that crops can be feed for a long period of time, farmers want to ensure that adequate organic matter, biological activity and nutrient balance in soil must be maintained. If this is done properly, the need for synthetic fertilizers can be reduced or even eliminated.
In order to enhance soil fertility and soil health, farmers utilize many techniques, such as;
- Legumes in crop rotation
- Using manure or compost instead of and/or in complement to synthetic fertilizers
- Maintaining a working knowledge of the fertility of the field so as to properly manage them
Other stewardship concepts include;
- Protecting water quality
- Establishing year-round soil cover (residue or cover crop)
- Integrating crop and animal systems to maximize efficiencies, nutrients and energy
- Controlling invasive plants
Social responsibility relates to the quality of life for everyone who interacts with the business; employees, customers, neighbours, local community members and the farmer.
Some indicators of social responsibility include;
- Support for other local businesses and families within the community
- A stable or increasing rural community population
- Return of post-secondary school graduates to the community after graduation, to family farms or associated businesses
Sustainability in Practice: What are Farmers doing?
- Rotating crops to control pests and keep nutrients in the soil
- Use conservation tillage to lower greenhouse gas emissions and control soil erosion
- Investing in environmental improvements through environmental farm plans
- Using good bugs to fight bad ones through integrated pest management
- Planting native grasses to sustain wildlife populations
- Rotational grazing
As farm practices continue to become more sustainable, farmers continue to gain a deeper understanding of the natural resources they steward and how this affects they’re business. Farmers within Durham Region, Ontario, Canada and throughout the world are committed to being sustainable while continuing to provide for the demands of the food supply chain.
Interested in learning more about agriculture? Get social with us! Visit our instagram @farmconnections & our facebook page @Durham Farm Connections
Durham Farm Connections is a volunteer organization passionate about educating the community about agriculture and all things food.Leave a Comment
Whether it be enjoying a big turkey dinner during the holidays, or simply enjoying a turkey sandwich, turkey is a staple in many people’s diet. But how much do you know about turkey and turkey production? Durham Farm Connections is passionate about teaching the public about the food they are eating, and how farmers produce it. Ontario produces 45% of all turkeys grown in Canada! Today, we will be talking all about turkey!
Turkey-A nutritional SUPEROOD!
Turkey is a tasty, lean protein that is naturally low in cholesterol and provides essential nutrients such as niacin, zinc, and vitamins B6 and B12, which help booster heart health while lowering cancer risks. In fact, turkey is such a nutritional powerhouse that it is the only meat protein to have every been labeled a superfood.
Turkeys are raised in specially designed, environmentally controlled barns that provide protection from predators, disease and bad weather conditions. Turkeys are not kept in cages and are free to roam on floors that are covered with soft bedding. The environment is monitored on an ongoing basis to ensure access to feed and water, adequate, lighting, temperature, air quality, and space per bird.
Day old turkey’s (poults) come from the hatchery and are placed in a Brooding Barn, where they are kept warm and given special care for the first five to six weeks of life.
Turkeys are then moved into a growing barn. There is plenty of space to move about and birds stay here till they grow to their market weight!
What do Turkey’s eat?
Ever wondered what Turkey’s eat? Turkeys are fed nutritionally balanced diets of mixed grains and oil seeds, which typically include corn, wheat, barley, soybean meal and canola meal. This helps with healthy growth and development. Turkeys have free access to feed 24 hours a day, which means they can help themselves to food or water anytime.
DID YOU KNOW?
In Canada Turkeys are not given hormones or steroids. The have been prohibited for over 30 years!
How do farmers care for their turkeys?
Consumers and farmers alike want to ensure that birds are cared for in the most humane way possible. To ensure safety and care standards are being met, all farmers who raise Turkeys in Canada must meet or exceed the national standards outlined in the National Farm Animal Care Councils (NFACC) code of practice for the care and handling of hatching eggs, breeders, chicken and turkeys. This code of practice was developed by the Canadian poultry industry, along with researchers, retailers, the Canadian Federation of Humane societies and The Federal Government. Its purpose is to ensure that the highest standards of bird care, health and welfare are met by Canadian farmers. It outlines;
- Optimal Housing
- Transportation Practices
- Processing Practices
In addition to the code of practice, Turkey Farmers of Canada has also developed and implemented an auditable National Flock Care Program (FCP) to complement and augment the code. The FCP applies the code of practices and requires that all farmers keep detailed on-farm records and documentation that verifies that they are meeting all requirements to properly handle and care for their birds.
Turkey farmers in Durham Region, Ontario and all of Canada work hard to ensure that you can have safe, healthy delicious turkey to enjoy all year round. For more information on turkey, visit https://www.ontarioturkey.ca/. Here you can find delicious turkey recipes, read about real Ontario turkey farmers and learn about all thing’s turkey!
Durham Farm Connections is a volunteer organization passionate about engaging the Durham Region community in conversation about all things farming and food. For more information on agriculture in Durham, check out Durham Farm Connections on Facebook @durhamfarmconnections and on Instagram @farmconnectionsLeave a Comment
As you drive through Durham Region, you are greeted by acres of green, luscious farmland. You see cows peacefully grazing in the field, tractors driving down the roads and corn growing up tall in the field. Over 80% of Durham Region’s land is rural and the total farmland area in the region is 292,815 acres! The vast amount of farmland in Durham Region has made it a leader in agriculture. Annually, Durham Region produces $321.7 million to Ontario’s total farm production.
As the largest economic driver in the region, agriculture is part of the economic, social and environmental fabric of Durham. Over 1,400 Durham farm families derive income from their farms. Additionally, the agriculture sector provides many job opportunities. There are 16,778 employees working in the agriculture food value food chain. Durham Region is home to a wide variety of different sectors of farming.
In Durham, there is…
- 5 producers of pork
- 457 farms registered with beef cattle
- 90 sheep farms
- 59 vegetable and melon farms
- 101 greenhouse, nursery and floriculture production farms
- 48 poultry and egg farms
- 278 oilseed and grain farmers
- 81 dairy cattle and milk
- 43 fruit and nut tree farms
- 488 other farms
*Numbers are based on available information. Actual numbers may vary slightly.
There are a number of characteristics that make Durham Region an ideal location for farmers. In an interview for Think Big, Think Durham, Kirk Kemp, President of Algoma Orchards, a large apple orchard in Newcastle, Ontario, speaks about why he believes Durham Region is a great place for agriculture businesses to set up shop;
“Durham is an excellent place for us to do business because we’re right on the north shore of Lake Ontario. This makes it a great area to grow apples, plus it is not far for us to deliver to our customers who only live an hour away”
Additionally, Kemp highlighted the talented pool of skilled potential employees that are available to agriculture businesses in Durham Region. You can watch Kemp’s full interview here;
With so many farms within the area, there are many opportunities for customers to buy local, fresh produce. Over 200 farms within the region report direct to consumer sales. This provides the local community many opportunities to get to know their local farmers and enjoy fresh food. In addition, many local communities run a farmers markets, where residents can connect with local producers and buy local, farm fresh products!
Many farms within Durham Region have been around for multiple generations. This creates a strong connection for farmers with their farm and their community. The passion they feel for agriculture motivates them to continue producing and contributing to food security in their communities. They are committed to high-quality, environmentally friendly farming practices.
“Agriculture in Durham Region is a vital service that ensures residents have access to fresh, high-quality and safe food options to feed themselves and their families” –John Henry, Regional Chair and Chief Executive Officer for The Regional Municipality of Durham.
As farming is such an integral part of Durham Region, agricultural awareness and education are important to many local farmers. Durham Farm Connections began with the mission to provide Durham Region with agricultural education opportunities and spread agricultural awareness. Beginning in 2006, volunteers began to provide opportunities for the local community to learn about farming and connect them with local farmers. Durham Farm Connections believes that it is important that people know about the food they are eating. We aim to shrink the knowledge gap between farmers and consumers regarding food and farming
A few of our note-worthy programs include;
- Grade 3 Education Program
- High School Education Program
- All About Farming! Trailer
- Active Social Media Pages
- Celebrate Agriculture Gala-
The agricultural sector in Durham Region provides the community with more local jobs, strengthens the local economy & builds a strong sense of community. Buying local supports your local farmers and ensures that that agriculture industry will continue to thrive in Durham Region!
For more information on agriculture in Durham, check out Durham Farm Connections on Facebook @durhamfarmconnections and at on Instagram @farmconnections