Pilot Project to Plant 130,000 Tender Fruit Trees in Niagara

Photo by Hans, Creative Commons

The Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation and Ontario Tender Fruit Growers are launching a pilot project to plant up to 130,000 tender fruit tree varieties, such as peaches and pears, to provide a financial boost to Greenbelt growers, strengthen this key economic sector, and increase prosperity in the Niagara Region.

Working with government and industry partners, the $400,000 investment from the Foundation will help the industry introduce both improved and new tender fruit varieties in the protected Greenbelt that will meet consumer demand for high quality local stone fruit and pears.

The Foundation’s support consists of a 25 per cent cost-share at an expected $3.50 per tender fruit tree. Planting will take place in the spring of 2016, with the tender fruit varieties available to consumers in grocery stores, farmers’ markets, on-farm markets, and restaurants as soon as summer 2019. After three to four years, the harvest from 500 acres of tender fruit trees will provide an injection of about $4 million into Ontario’s economy.

Niagara is the top producer of the province’s tender fruit, one of only two designated specialty crop areas in the nearly two million acres of permanently protected Greenbelt. The tender fruit varieties will benefit from Niagara Region’s sandy soils and the moderating effects on temperatures provided by Lake Ontario and the Niagara River.

"Niagara's tender fruit industry has been one of the most important drivers of our region's economy for generations,” said Jim Bradley, MPP, St. Catharines. “Partnerships are pivotal in moving significant projects forward and I'm pleased to see the Greenbelt Foundation and Ontario Tender Fruit Growers work together to bring more fresh and delicious tender fruit across the province."

"I’m very excited to see The Ontario Tender Fruit Growers and the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation form this partnership and make this very important grant announcement in support of our local tender fruit growers and the Niagara Region as a whole,” said Wayne Gates, MPP, Niagara Falls. “The Niagara Peninsula is Ontario’s largest and most important fruit-growing area and it’s wonderful to see this pilot project being established in order to enhance this very significant part of our local economy.”

"Since nearly half of the region’s tender fruit is grown in Niagara-on-the-Lake, agriculture is very important to our community, and we are pleased to hear of the Foundation’s investment in this project,” stated His Worship Pat Darte, Lord Mayor, Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake. “This initiative will be an excellent stimulus for this sector and Niagara’s overall economy.”

“This is the largest investment the Greenbelt Foundation has made over the last five years in the economic powerhouse that is Ontario’s agriculture sector,” said Burkhard Mausberg, CEO, Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation. “The significant support is a signal of our commitment to partnering with Niagara’s Greenbelt farmers and continuing to grow this important industry.”

“This funding provides an opportunity for growers to analyze their current product mix and strategically replant to meet consumer demand,” said Phil Tregunno, Chair, Ontario Tender Fruit Growers. “We greatly appreciate the Greenbelt Foundation’s recognition of the tender fruit industry as a key economic driver to this region.”

This release was originally written by Ontario Tender Fruit Growers.