Agriculture by the Numbers: Understanding the Greenbelt’s Unique Advantages

September 15, 2014

New Report Highlights Unique Advantages of Agriculture in the Greenbelt

The latest study from the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation captures the changes in agriculture from 2001 to 2011 and highlights the natural and locational advantages of farming in Ontario’s Greenbelt.

The report, Agriculture by the Numbers: Understanding the Greenbelt’s Unique Advantages, outlines changes in agriculture over time in the Greenbelt, compared to the Greater Golden Horseshoe and Ontario. Using data from Statistics Canada’s 2001, 2006, and 2011 Census of Agriculture, the paper looks at key variables such as number of farms, area farmed, use of farmland, production levels, and farm revenue.  

“Agriculture is changing across Ontario and in the Greenbelt,” says Burkhard Mausberg, CEO of the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation. “With the Greenbelt’s unique climate and soil, farmers have an advantage in growing particular crops such as tender fruit. Being close to an urban centre also provides farmers access to a growing market. It’s clear that continuing to protect the Greenbelt and its farmland is critical for the future of farming in Ontario.”

Key findings from the study include:

  • The Greenbelt includes 5,501 farms and 856,424 acres of farmland; it accounts for 10.6% of Ontario’s farms and 6.8% of its farmland.
  • While there has been a decline in the number of farms across Ontario, the size of farms has increased. 
  • In comparison to other areas of the province, the Greenbelt has several natural advantages in agriculture including climate, soil types, and geography, reflected in the specialized production in its two Specialty Crop areas.
  • The Greenbelt’s proximity to the Greater Golden Horseshoe supports local food supply chains by producing a large share of Ontario’s fruits and vegetables.
  • The decline in livestock in the Greenbelt largely parallels trends across the province reflecting market realities beyond farmers’ control, as well as some specific challenges related to proximity to urban development. These include complaints about odours, and constraints such as availability of supporting infrastructure and minimum acreage requirements.

To download the study click here Agriculture by the Numbers: Understanding the Greenbelt’s Unique Advantages.

About the Greenbelt:

Ontario’s Greenbelt is the solution for fresh air, clean water, healthy local food, and a thriving economy with good jobs. At nearly 2 million acres, it’s the world’s largest permanently protected greenbelt, keeping our farmlands, forests, and wetlands safe and sustainable. The Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation works to help keep farmers successful, strengthen local economies, and protect natural features. Join us! Learn more at: or find us on Twitter and Facebook.