The Oshawa Express - Farming flourishes in Durham
Farming flourishes in Durham
Ian Critchell, a local beekeeper, has been keeping bees since 1997.
He sells pollen, honey and candles.

By Lindsey Cole and Katie Strachan
The Oshawa Express

There is nothing like pulling out a honeycomb from a hive filled with bees and tasting the fresh product that nature creates. This is how Ian Critchell describes his experience when he goes to one of his beehives. A bee farmer in Canada since 1997, Critchell says he currently has 160 colonies of bees spread around the region in Oshawa, Whitby, Pickering and various other places. Each colony, or beehive, contains around 50,000 bees.“It’s a lot of bees,” he says, adding it is also a source of income for him as a business on the side as he sells honey, pollen and candles.“Each beehive works as unit. Bees are very important to agriculture.”

And agriculture itself is a vital part of Durham Region’s economy, says Marlene Werry, a rural economic development officer for Durham Region.“I look at it from the perspective as an industry, we are the second largest industry in Durham Region,” she explains. Specifically, the dairy sector leads the way followed by floriculture, nursery and sod.“We have a very diverse industry. We have excellent land. We can grow a lot of different crops.”

Durham Region has more than 500,000 acres classified as farmland, according to Durham is famous for its apples, according to a region report. The United States, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Trinidad, Guyana and the Caribbean Islands have all had a taste of Durham’s apples. Critchell is an example of just how diverse the region is when it comes to different types of farming, and he also says farming in general is integral to any part of society.“It’s so easy to buy at the superstore. If you don’t have local foods, if there is ever a fuel crisis (as that is what essentially allows trade), we’re in trouble. It’s a safety thing to
have a food supply.” What’s more is that farming generates a lot of revenue for the area. Gross farm sales in Durham Region amount to $240 million, Werry says, adding that farming also creates jobs.

Areport released in 2008 by the region, shows that all of Durham’s
main commodities have brought in more money in 2006 than in 2001, except for fruit and cattle/calves.“From a career perspective, for young people, there’s so many opportunities in agriculture.” Investment, packaging, robotics, product development, food processing and running a farm itself are all avenues a young entrepreneur can take.


“It’s exciting,” she says, adding that in the area major sources of industry stem from
apple orchards and other forms of produce like asparagus, beans, carrots and many more, the dairy industry as well as chicken farms. Farmland and open space land also contributes to improving air quality, something that is crucial to today’s world.

Ontario Corn reports that onehectare of corn produces enough oxygen on a summer day to meet the annual respiratory needs of about 325 people. Recently, Farmers Markets of Ontario conducted a study that calculated the economic impact on markets over the last decade. “The key message we took away from this study is that Farmers’ Markets Ontario needs to get more markets with more farmers vendors to produce and sell an even greater variety of products,” says Robert Chorney, exec tive director of Farmers Markets Ontario.

“The demand is growing rapidly and we need more producers to fill that demand.” The study also revealed that 93 per cent of people felt strongly about the importance of being able to buy directly from a farmer while 61 per cent called it extremely important.

According to Farmers Markets Ontario, shoppers expressed a strong sense of community pride in supporting local producers and that meeting the actua producer was part of the shopping experience they enjoyed.“It just really affects so many a pects of our lives. Agriculture affects every facet,” says Werry.

“It just really affects so many aspects of our
lives. Agriculture affects every facet.”
-Marlene Werry
Rural economic development officer


Farming statistics across the region


Farming population- 141,590
Farms- 62
Cows- 1,568
Pigs- 111


Farming population- 561,258
Farms- 1,686 Cows- 45,853
Pigs- 24,253

Top Crops Alfalfa and alfalfa mixtures, corn for grain, soybeans, winter wheat and barley

*2006 Statistics Canada facts


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