What does 175 acres actually mean?

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According to the data presented in the 2016 Census of Agriculture from Statistics Canada, Ontario is losing an average of 175 acres of farmland to urban development every day. It is a sobering figure, but it does lead one to wonder what does 175 acres actually mean? In terms of actual area, it represents roughly the equivalent size of 32 city blocks, 135 football fields, 437 hockey rinks or 2,635 tennis courts. But it is so much more.

“175 acres is more than an area, more than a number,” says Peggy Brekveld, President of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA). “This is the land where we grow the food we eat, fibres for the clothes we wear, sources for fuel to power our vehicles and flowers to enjoy and brighten our days.”

So what can be grown on 175 acres?

  • Grape growers typically yield about 2.64 tonnes of grapes per acre, which equates to 349,272 bottles of Ontario VQA wine.
  • The average yield of winter wheat in Ontario in 2020 was 83 bushels per acre; over 175 acres, that is the equivalent of 653,625 boxes of bran cereal.
  • More than 12.9 million apples can be plucked from a 175-acre orchard. That is enough for 3.2 million glasses of pure apple juice.
  • It will yield enough fresh strawberries (more than 1.2 million pounds) to make 611,800 jars of strawberry jam.
  • You can grow 8.3 million pounds of carrots on 175 acres, which is enough to make 2.6 carrot cakes for every family in Ontario.
  • You can have quite the game night watching your favourite team, with enough cheddar cheese for 1.3 million servings of nachos, 273,000 chicken wings and 1.1 million quarter-pound cheeseburgers.
  • More than 532,400 turkey dinners — enough to provide a turkey dinner to 133,000 families of four over the holidays.
  • Enough eggplant to make more than 5.7 million servings of baba ganoush.
  • More than 58,000 packages of bacon, the equivalent of providing 4,800 households a package of bacon every month for a year.

How did OFA calculate the 175 acres per day statistic?

Between the 2011 Census of Agriculture and its 2016 edition, Ontario lost 320,000 acres of productive farmland; average that over the number of days between those two surveys, and it works out to 175 acres per day.

Go all the way back to the 1996 Census of Agriculture, and Ontario has lost 1.5 million acres of farmland — or more than 200 acres per day.

“Whichever way you look at, it is an unsustainable hit to one of our most valuable, and finite, natural resources,” explains Peggy Brekveld. “Domestic food production is vitally important to our communities. It ensures we can support ourselves no matter what is happening beyond our borders. Plus, it is fresh, healthy and affordable.”

The 2021 edition of the Census of Agriculture will be released this spring.

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