Calling all farmers: Humber Valley group wants to help industry thrive

Calling all farmers: Humber Valley group wants to help industry thrive

Farms in the Humber Valley help supply some local needs, but Sean Dolter thinks much more food could be finding its way to local kitchens. 

Now, he's inviting people in the valley to bring their ideas to the table.

"What we do, we do well and we just have to look at expanding it," said Dolter, a consultant for the Grand Lake Centre of Economic Development, which wants to put together a strategic plan for agriculture in the region, which organized public meetings this month. 

Dolter said the valley has almost 40 farms, which raise everything from "vegetables, to fruits and berries, to florist products, to cattle, to sheep."

According to Dolter, the centre wants to build on the region`s "tremendous agricultural history." 

Dolter points to statistics that Newfoundland and Labrador produces only about 10 per cent of the food it consumes.

He said farmers, agriculture industry suppliers and municipal councils need to put their heads together and come up with ways to make farms thrive. 

Green thumbs, black ink

The Grand Lake Centre has received money from a federal-provincial program called Growing Forward 2 to help pay for the strategic plan.

Dolter said while "everyone wants to buy local," it's crucial that farms are profitable. If not, "farmers move on, they turn to different things."

He added that everyone in agriculture needs to work together with municipalities, to make sure that agricultural land is preserved when communities make their land-use plans.

Once agricultural land is developed for some other use, "it probably never goes back into farming," Dolter said.

The Grand Lake Centre will use information it gathers from the public feedback sessions, as well as data from past agricultural studies in the Humber Valley and Codroy Valley.