Pro­duc­ing our own food

MHA Mitchel­more be­lieves gov­ern­ment ini­tia­tive will help North­ern Penin­sula avail of agri­cul­tural re­sources

Northern Pen - - EDITORIAL - BY STEPHEN ROBERTS

NORTH­ERN PENIN­SULA, NL – St. Barbe- L’Anse au Mead­ows MHA Christo­pher Mitchel­more sees great op­por­tu­nity to ex­pand agri­cul­ture on the North­ern Penin­sula.

On Oct. 23, the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment an­nounced it is un­der­tak­ing 43 ac­tions to dou­ble New­found­land and Labrador’s food self-suf­fi­ciency and the num­ber of peo­ple di­rectly em­ployed in agri­cul­ture. All ac­tions out­lined in the plan are to be in place within 24 months.

Mitchel­more be­lieves the North­ern Penin­sula has the means to ben­e­fit from the plan as there are al­ready a num­ber of suc­cess­ful ven­tures in agri­cul­ture un­der­way in the re­gion. Mitchel­more points out that Bro­phy’s Dairy Farm in Daniel’s Har­bour is the sec­ond-largest dairy farm in the prov­ince.

There are many road­side gar­dens on the North­ern Penin­sula, as well as sheep farm­ing, vegetable farm­ing, and a num­ber of hobby farm­ers.

Dark Tickle, based out of St. Lu­naire-Gri­quet, has been pro­vid­ing its berries for a dis­tillery in Clarke’s Beach.

“In Rod­dick­ton in one green­house, there’s been at times sum­mer squash, grapes grow­ing, and there are peo­ple who make their own teas,” Mitchel­more told the North­ern Pen.

Op­por­tu­ni­ties

While these ini­tia­tives are ev­i­dence of po­ten­tial, Mitchel­more be­lieves more can be done to tap into it.

“We’re see­ing tremen­dous op­por­tu­ni­ties to look at our lo­cal prod­ucts,” he said. “I think on the North­ern Penin­sula we’ve got a lot of po­ten­tial, we’re just not tap­ping into it.”

He’s op­ti­mistic the prov­ince’s ini­tia­tives will help lo­cals avail of the re­gion’s land po­ten­tial.

“There are some agri­cul­tural zones that have been around for a very long time that have not come into play,” said Mitchel­more.

He cites the prov­ince’s healthy bee pop­u­la­tion as another op­por­tu­nity.

And he would love to see craft brew­ery on the North­ern Penin­sula. For these prod­ucts, in­gre­di­ents like malt and bar­ley have to be grown.

When New­found­lan­ders and Labrado­ri­ans – young and old – are look­ing for em­ploy­ment, he be­lieves agri­cul­ture is an op­tion.

Mitchel­more’s sen­ti­ments echo those of Richard May, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of CBDC Nor­tip, re­ported last week in the North­ern Pen.

A re­port com­mis­sioned by Nor­tip en­cour­ages more agri­cul­ture de­vel­op­ment on the North­ern Penin­sula, specif­i­cally for res­i­dents to pro­duce their own food so they’re not as de­pen­dent on food im­ports.

Both Mitchel­more and May high­lighted the pos­si­bil­ity of us­ing hy­dro­ponic gar­dens to grow fresh pro­duce in­doors for 12 months of the year.

“Hy­dro­pon­ics pro­vide a great op­por­tu­nity, par­tic­u­larly for ru­ral and north­ern and more iso­lated com­mu­ni­ties, where the cost of fresh pro­duce can be quite high,” said Mitchel­more.

Pre­par­ing to com­pete Another rea­son agri­cul­ture self-suf­fi­ciency is im­por­tant to Mitchel­more in­volves pop­u­la­tion growth in the Asian Pa­cific Rim.

Ac­cord­ing to the MHA, the prov­ince has to be pre­pared for this.

He ex­plains that by 2036, the Asian Pa­cific Rim will have more peo­ple than in the rest of the world.

In these coun­tries, de­mand for fresh food and pro­duce is in­creas­ing with the grow­ing num­ber of mid­dle-in­come peo­ple. The in­crease in de­mand will in­crease prices for these foods.

Mean­while, New­found­land and Labrador cur­rently im­ports 90 per cent of its pro­duce.

Mitchel­more be­lieves the prov­ince should grow what­ever it can to be­come self-suf­fi­cient and less sen­si­tive to mar­ket fluc­tu­a­tions.

“As a gov­ern­ment we have to be very proac­tive to take steps now so we can plan, get our pro­duc­tion up, so we can meet de­mands lo­cally and have less sen­si­tiv­i­ties to price in­creases,” he said.

As min­is­ter of Tourism, Cul­ture, In­dus­try and In­no­va­tion, Mitchel­more said his de­part­ment will work on mar­ket ac­cess and de­vel­op­ment, and carv­ing out en­ter­prises for niche prod­ucts such as par­tridge­ber­ries, blue­ber­ries and salt­wa­ter lam.

As part of his de­part­ment’s man­date, there is also a re­gional in­no­va­tions as­sis­tance pilot project on the west coast to fa­cil­i­tate greater col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the Col­lege of the North At­lantic, the Gren­fell Cam­pus of Memo­rial Univer­sity, and busi­nesses.

KYLE GREENHAM/THE NORTH­ERN PEN

One of many high­way gar­dens along the North­ern Penin­sula.

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