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They're eating up organics

by 5m Editor
17 September 2007, at 1:20pm

ONTARIO - When the daughters of Cathy McGregor-Smith and Gary Smith were just four and seven, they enjoyed a family joke as their parents loaded the van with organic produce for delivery in London.

Co-owner Beatrix Enter shows off organically raised pigs in the barn at Parkhill-area organic meat producer Hungry Hollow Organics Inc.

"Back then, it was heading off with a full van and empty pockets," McGregor-Smith says. "On the way back home, it was an empty van and full pockets. It was a great way for our children to see how the business was based on direct sales."

As the delivery end of McSmith's Organic Farm grew, they established a market right on the farm for their customers. Starting with organic vegetables and laying hens, the operation expanded over the years into new product lines.

Economic security increased dramatically when they started distributing their laying hens' eggs through President's Choice and Organic Meadow- a move that helped turn seasonal income into year-round revenue.

And today, their daughters are post-secondary graduates, thanks to the thriving organic operation.

Not bad for two self-described "old hippies" who quit well-paid, secure government jobs to buy a farm north of St. Thomas and take up the then-fledgling organic farming lifestyle.

Despite those shaky beginnings and continued struggles facing many traditional farmers today, the McSmith success story is being repeated with surprising regulatory across this region, the rest of Ontario and Canada.

A five-year agriculture census released by Statistics Canada in May showed the number of certified organic farms in Canada jumped from 2,230 in 2001 to 3,555 in 2006. These operations now represent 1.5 per cent of all farms with another 0.3 per cent in transition.

A five-year agriculture census released by Statistics Canada in May showed the number of certified organic farms in Canada jumped from 2,230 in 2001 to 3,555 in 2006. These operations now represent 1.5 per cent of all farms with another 0.3 per cent in transition.

The survey reported 11,937 farms -- about 5.2 per cent of all Canadian farms -- were using organic methods in 2006. The greatest annual growth in organic production between 2005-06 took place in Ontario (19 per cent) and Atlantic Canada (16 per cent).

Source: The London Free Press

5m Editor