Do you want to know more about how your food is produced? Start by getting to know your local farmers. Barrie Hill Farms is a second generation farm that offers a wide range of fruits and vegetables available for purchase from the on-farm market. Certain “pick your own” products are available as well.
As a part of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Environmental Farm Plan, Barrie Hill Farms is run as efficiently as possible. Steps are in place to protect surrounding waterways and eliminate soil erosion— a critical step since soil is a farm’s most valuable resource.
Home to the one of the largest blueberry plantations in Ontario, the farm has strategically-placed wind-circulating fans that are paired with temperature monitors. These fans are used only when air patterns determine that air circulation would protect cold-sensitive plants.
GPS technology is used to make sure rows are planted straight, something that has a positive impact on water use, harvesting efficiency, weed control and chemical reduction. For example, during the 2016 summer drought, correctly placed irrigation systems fed only plant roots (and not weed roots) which reduced weed growth.
To conserve water, a drip irrigation system is used. The system allows water (and soluble fertilizers) to be delivered directly to the roots of the plants. More tender crops such as strawberries are watered using trickle irrigation.
In accordance with Integrated Pest Management principles, individual Scouts are hired to walk the fields and record the location and size of insect populations. Since a healthy crop can tolerate pest populations up to a certain threshold, this surveillance is important to ensure chemical pest control measures are only used when absolutely necessary. Solutions are then evaluated based upon their environmental impact, and the least toxic alternative is always selected first.
Understanding more about how our food is produced and how agricultural operations are taking steps to protect the natural environment is important. Local farms are a great place to begin to learn more.