The History and Future of Market Gardening in Ontario
by Dr. Barry Micallef, Plant Agriculture, University of Guelph
LOCATION: Room 202, Crop Sci
DATE & TIME: Thursday, April 4, 2019 @ 11:00 AM
Historically, market gardening has been the most significant approaches to the production of fresh fruits and vegetables, not only in Ontario, but worldwide. Market gardening can be defined as the production of fruits and vegetables for the fresh-market by small- to medium-sized family operations that each grow multiple commodities close to urban centers. The history of the fruit and vegetable industry in Ontario (and related regions) over the last 100+ years will be presented, including field and greenhouse production in the Golden Horseshoe, Holland Marsh, Norfolk County and SW Ontario, and the Ontario Food Terminal. The impact of both urbanization and the profitability of farming on market gardening and agriculture per se are analyzed. Eight myths or misconceptions regarding the fresh fruit and vegetable industry are examined, including four myths related to greenhouse production, the impact of ‘yield’, operation size, the role of corporate farming, and shifts in industry demographics. The future of market gardening and agriculture in Ontario is addressed, including evidence for a re-expansion of market gardening through organic production. As a backdrop to these analyses, I will share some experiences of my family, who have been market gardening in Ontario for 84 years.
Barry’s interest in plant science was kindled from his upbringing on a fruit and vegetable farm just outside of Milton, Ontario. He obtained a B.Sc. (Agr) from the University of Guelph in 1985, then did graduate work in plant biochemistry and physiology in the old Department of Horticultural Science at Guelph and at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Barry was an NSERC postdoctoral fellow at Queen’s University, and coordinated the Agricultural Biotechnology program as a faculty member at the University of Lethbridge for 3 years. He then accepted a faculty position at Guelph in greenhouse vegetable production in 2000, starting at the Vineland Station. His research has focused on diel physiology of carbon and nitrogen metabolism and the role of the biological clock. Barry teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in plant agriculture, vegetable production and plant metabolism.