Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation
Fisheries and Land Resources
November 30, 2018

Supporting the O’Brien Farm as an Agriculture Incubator

The Governments of Newfoundland and Labrador and Canada are partnering with the O’Brien Farm Foundation on an initiative that will benefit the agriculture sector, while also preserving the history of urban farming and Irish settlement in St. John’s.

Over the next three years, the O’Brien Farm Foundation will undertake the development of the 200-year old O’Brien Farm to preserve its history, advance public education on sustainable agricultural practices, and encourage innovation in agriculture at the farm.

The Honourable Bernard Davis, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Labour, on behalf of the Honourable Christopher Mitchelmore, Minister of Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation, and Nick Whalen, Member of Parliament for St. John’s East, on behalf of the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, made the announcement today. The Honourable Seamus O’Regan, Minister of Veterans Affairs, Associate Minister of National Defence and Member of Parliament for St. John’s South-Mount Pearl also took part in the event.

The project will involve interior and exterior renovations to Thimble Cottage and improvements to the grounds and parking area, as well as constructing a learning centre, creating a community garden and developing farm incubator infrastructure, including a barn, fencing and equipment. The foundation is receiving $600,000 from ACOA’s Business Development Program and $263,750 from TCII’s Regional Development Program for this initiative.

These investments build on commitments made by the Government of Canada and the four Atlantic provinces to drive economic growth in the region through the Atlantic Growth Strategy, which involves targeted actions to create opportunities for all Atlantic Canadians. This includes supporting economic development in rural communities through investments in growth, expansion and diversification.

Provincial support for this project also delivers on commitments of The Way Forward to strengthen the province’s economic foundation through increasing the number of social enterprises in Newfoundland and Labrador and supporting existing social enterprises. The Way Forward outlines all actions the Provincial Government is taking to achieve a strong, diversified province with a high standard of living, and can be viewed at

“By helping to preserve and support urban farming in the heart of St. John’s, government is contributing to sustainable food systems, facilitate visitors' engagement, and ultimately support community well-being and sustainability. This multi-faceted investment aligns with The Way Forward, building on our commitment to increase food self-sufficiency to at least 20 per cent, while increasing social enterprises in Newfoundland and Labrador.”
Honourable Christopher Mitchelmore
Minister of Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation

“The Government of Canada believes that public investment is an important catalyst that spurs economic growth, job creation and broad-based prosperity. Making smart investments in initiatives like this one with the O’Brien Farm Foundation recognizes the growth potential in this region’s tourism and agriculture sectors and the importance of innovation and collaboration to community economic development.”
Honourable Navdeep Bains
Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for ACOA

“Developing the legendary O’Brien Farm brings Newfoundland and Labrador’s agriculture history to life, especially for a generation of people who may not have grown up with a direct family connection to farming. The introduction of a community garden and development of a farm incubator marry sustainable agricultural practices with innovation, which are the cornerstones to future growth. I congratulate the O’Brien Farm Foundation for their work on this outstanding initiative.”
Honourable Gerry Byrne
Minister of Fisheries and Land Resources

“The O’Brien Farm Foundation, and their project to develop the O’Brien Farm as an attraction that promotes the importance of urban farming and innovation in agriculture, has earned our government’s support. Agricultural education and experiential tourism play to the farm’s strengths as a hidden gem on Mount Scio, and will keep the farm’s incredible history alive for generations to come.”
Nick Whalen
Member of Parliament for St. John’s East

“This contribution from ACOA and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador will play a major role in supporting the O'Brien Farm Foundation to realize its vision for the historic O'Brien Farm. This vision includes sharing the story of the history of the Irish farming community in St. John's and supporting agriculture going into the future through educational programs for backyard gardeners and new farmers. With the generous contributions of both levels of government, the foundation plans to build a learning centre and farm buildings that will complement a restored Thimble Cottage.”
Shannie Duff
Acting Chair, O’Brien Farm Foundation

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Media contacts
Eric Humber
Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation
709-729-4819, 725-9655

Linda Skinner
Fisheries and Land Resources
709-637-2284, 632-8167

Paul McGrath
Director of Communications

Shannie Duff
O’Brien Farm Foundation

2018 11 30                              1:55 p.m.