Fisheries and Land Resources
April 10, 2019

The following statement was given today in the House of Assembly by the Honourable Gerry Byrne, Minister of Fisheries and Land Resources

Vegetable Transplant Program Rooted in Success

Mr. Speaker, there is a true renaissance occurring in both farming and food awareness in this province. Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are hearing the message of this government and embracing the fact that our farmers and our local foods are important to each and every one of us. We have committed to doubling our food production, increasing our food security and raising our farms and our farmers as part of the core of our province’s economic and social well-being.

Since taking on this ambitious challenge, I am happy to report that we have supported 46 new farmers through our industry development programming, which includes awarding two large-scale land development pilots for agriculture production in the towns of Reidville and Cormack. We have created the province’s first post-secondary training program in agriculture, and expanded the role of the former Wooddale Tree Nursery and re-profiled it as the Centre for Agriculture and Forestry Development.

Mr. Speaker, in 2018 we launched a pilot project at the Centre for Agriculture and Forestry Development at Wooddale to produce vegetable transplants for commercial farmers to give them a head start on the growing season and an opportunity to try out some different vegetable varieties.

In 2018, the first year of the program, 25 farmers requested 250,000 transplants. Due to the overwhelming success and popularity of this program, in 2019 we will disperse seven times more vegetable transplants – over 1.5 million – including turnip, onion, kohlrabi, Brussels sprouts, kale, leek, broccoli and cabbage to commercial farmers to help jump start the 2019 growing season. So successful is this program, Mr. Speaker, one farmer requested 278,000 transplants to grow more vegetables for our tables. Requesting that many transplants speaks to how that farmer supports this initiative.

Since the launch of our Agriculture Sector Work Plan, more than 278.5 acres of land – the equivalent of approximately 211 football fields – have been prepared for fruit and vegetable production. This much agricultural land has the potential to produce five million pounds of food for our residents.

Mr. Speaker, this is major progress towards our goals to double food self-sufficiency, create new business opportunities and support entrepreneurs in the agriculture sector. Working with our province’s dedicated and hard-working farmers, we look forward to building on this success.

Thank you.

2019 04 10                              2:15 p.m.