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Agriculture in Peterborough & the Kawarthas

Agriculture & Agri-Food is one of the main pillars of Peterborough & the Kawarthas’ economy. Here, agribusiness thrives thanks to the area’s optimal climate, expansive land base, seasoned operators, robust research capabilities, and skilled workforce.

Our region is a frontrunner in agri-food production. We embrace innovation, actively pursuing on-farm diversification initiatives and reinforcing our commitment to the always-evolving agricultural sector. Peterborough’s focus on sustainability, our engaged educational institutions, collaborative business community, and flourishing culinary scene make the region a comprehensive and dynamic hub within the Canadian agriculture landscape.

Connect directly with Gabi Dragomir to get more insights into Peterborough’s Agriculture sector:

Gabi Dragomir

Gabi Dragomir

Rural Economic Development Officer

Cell: 705-872-6224

Closeup of local fruit and vegetables
In 2020, Peterborough’s agriculture sector contributed $115 million to the GDP (in 2012 dollars), with a projected growth to $140 million by 2026 (excluding the agri-food sector).
Source: metroeconomics
In 2017, Peterborough’s agriculture sector invested $886.3 million in supplies and services, with over two-thirds of the sector’s supply chain purchases originating within the region.
Source: EMSI Analyst
In 2020, gross farm receipts in Peterborough reached $86.5 million, marking a significant 22% increase from 2011.
Source: Statistics Canada, Census of Agriculture 2016, Projections by OMAFRA

Why is agriculture so big in Peterborough & the Kawarthas?

Agriculture thrives in the Peterborough region for several reasons. Access to affordable land, providing farmers with the necessary space to expand their operations is just one.

Peterborough’s central location also contributes to its popularity as a hub for agricultural activities. Our convenient position allows for efficient transportation and distribution of agricultural products to various markets across Canada, the U.S., and beyond.

Discover a Flourishing Agriculture Scene

  • As of 2016, over 900 farms contribute to a diverse agricultural landscape in Peterborough, producing grain, oilseeds, livestock, and more.
  • Peterborough secures the 18th position in Ontario and 5th in Central Ontario for farms selling directly to consumers (Census of Agriculture 2016).
  • Eight active farmers’ markets in the Peterborough region enhance accessibility to farm-fresh produce during peak season.
  • Chefs in Peterborough, attracted by access to passionate producers and top-notch local products, showcase global flavours in their artful creations.

Access a collaborative agricultural community.

In the interconnected world of agriculture, a supportive network provides many benefits, from knowledge sharing to resource pooling and collective problem-solving. Peterborough’s large and well-established farming communities contribute to a supportive network of experts, and create an environment that is ideal for growth.

The collaborative spirit among our local community fosters innovation and empowers farmers to navigate challenges with success. Through shared initiatives and programs such as Kawartha Choice FarmFresh, our agricultural businesses can leverage the strength of community to enhance their success and sustainability, opening doors to new opportunities.

Kawartha Choice logo on an image of a person holding a tray of vegetables

Kawartha Choice FarmFresh: Nourishing Our Community Through Local Agriculture!

Kawartha Choice FarmFresh (KCFF) is a collaborative effort between Peterborough & the Kawarthas Economic Development and the City of Kawartha Lakes.

A dynamic economic development initiative and community hub, the KCFF brand and online platform unites farmers, producers, restaurants, farmers’ markets, retailers, and consumers. It facilitates consumer access to local foods, farm products, and unique experiences while fostering connections among community members.

Join KCFF to network, engage in shared activities and discussions, contribute to a thriving local food system and strengthen our community through the power of choice and collaboration.

Explore Eco-Friendly Agriculture

Peterborough & the Kawarthas stands as a recognized leader when it comes to sustainability.

  • Discover Sustainable Living: Peterborough & the Kawarthas leads the way as a committed and recognized Ontario community with a Sustainability scorecard.
  • UNESCO-Endorsed Expertise: Recognized by UNESCO as a Regional Centre of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development, our community is part of the prestigious Peterborough-Kawarthas-Haliburton region, designated one of only eight RCEs in all of Canada by the United Nations University.
  • Eco-Innovation on Farms: Peterborough actively drives sustainability through ongoing initiatives, with a particular focus on pioneering on-farm diversification strategies.
  • Cutting-Edge Research: Our region is home to the Trent Aurora Research Greenhouse Microenvironment Laboratory, a leading research facility among Canadian universities dedicated to predicting and mitigating the impact of climate change.
  • Renewable Energy Leadership: In 2016, Peterborough reported a remarkable 88 farms utilizing renewable energy-producing systems, securing a notable 4th rank within the Central Ontario Region for embracing renewable energy initiatives.

Local Agriculture Businesses Leading the Way in Sustainability:

Woodleigh Farms

Woodleigh Farms is a prime example of sustainable and innovative agricultural practices, featuring a passive solar greenhouse and utilizing regenerative and precision agriculture techniques.

Entomo Farms

Entomo Farms, a local family-run business, specializes in crafting cricket-based foods, providing a sustainable source of high-quality protein for individuals aware of and curious about their environmental impact.

Connect with Engaged Educational Institutions

Peterborough is a hub for agricultural education, providing access to cutting-edge agriculture and agri-food research, innovation, talent development, and highly-skilled graduates through programming at Trent University and Fleming College.

Trent University: Fostering Global Stewards in Sustainable Food and Farming Practices

Trent University’s Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems program offered through The School of the Environment empowers undergraduate students with a profound understanding of the ethical, economic, and environmental facets of sustainable food production.

In September 2021, Trent University introduced a cutting-edge Small-Scale Farming Specialization, providing students with over 240 hours of hands-on experience in sustainable and regenerative farming practices.

Discover state-of-the-art Agricultural & Environmental Research Facilities in Peterborough, featuring:

  • Trent Community Research Centre
  • Water Quality Centre 
  • Trent Aurora Research Greenhouse
  • Microenvironment Laboratory – The most comprehensive research facility of its kind among Canadian universities, specialized in forecasting the future impact of climate change.

A Skilled Agricultural Labour Force

Peterborough’s labour force is one of high potential, where 76.2% of workers hold post-secondary qualifications, surpassing the provincial average.

In 2020, our region was home to 2185 individuals with expertise in agriculture, natural resources, and conservation. Beyond academics, Peterborough’s workforce excels in practical, applied learning, with a significant portion specializing in creative economy occupations. This dynamic mix ensures a diverse and capable pool of talent for the agricultural sector.

Agriculture in Ontario

Ontario’s agricultural sector stands out for its cutting-edge genomics-based innovations, positioning the province at the forefront of advancements in agriculture and agri-food technologies.

With a focus on sustainability and forward-thinking practices, Ontario’s agricultural landscape is a robust and dynamic sector contributing significantly to Canada’s agricultural exports. 

Ontario’s agriculture and agri-food sector is large and highly diverse. At $37.6B, Ontario accounts for 24% of Canada’s agricultural exports at $14.8B.
Within Ontario there are 49,600 farms which cover a total of 4.88 million hectares.
Ontario’s agriculture and agri-food sector is large and highly diverse. At $37.6B, it accounts for approximately one third of the total GDP generated by the sector in Canada.
The agricultural sector generates 1 in 8 jobs in Ontario employing 807,000 people.
Ontario is home to more than half of Canada’s Class 1 Farmland.
OMAFRA defines soils in this class to have no significant limitations in use for crops.

Agriculture in Canada

Premium yields, diverse food selections, and a commitment to sustainability are all defining factors of Canada’s agriculture sector.

Recognized globally, Canada ranks as the #1 exporter of canola oil, the #5 largest exporter of agricultural commodities, and holds the 11th position in food and beverage processing.

Canada’s leadership also extends to agri-tech, where cutting-edge technologies, such as plant-based proteins and autonomous tractors are moving the industry forward.


Peterborough is part of the Canadian agriculture and agri-food system

Peterborough’s position in the Canadian agricultural landscape is marked by its commitment to sustainable practices and innovation. Our local sector contributes significantly to Canada’s reputation as a global destination for agribusiness opportunities.

In 2018, Canada’s agriculture and agri-food system generated an impressive $143 billion, constituting 7.4% of the country’s GDP and providing one in eight jobs across Canada.
Report covers for the Peterborough & the Kawarthas Culinary Tourism Strategy and the Agri-tourism report

Peterborough & the Kawarthas Culinary Tourism Strategy

Peterborough & the Kawarthas Tourism (a division of PKED) champions the region’s agricultural assets with a focus on developing Culinary Tourism and Agri-tourism. The Peterborough & the Kawarthas Culinary Tourism Strategy is an effort to showcase and celebrate our region’s abundant agricultural treasures.

Culinary tourism immerses visitors in the history, heritage, and culture that define the food and drink of our region. Agri-tourism experiences seamlessly integrate the tourism and agricultural sectors, bringing together the processes, people, and places that make our region so unique.

Explore the diverse offerings that make Peterborough & the Kawarthas a premier destination for those seeking a culinary adventure deeply rooted in local traditions and flavours:

Connect with Jaimie Eastabrook to learn more about the Culinary Strategy:

Jaimie Eastabrook

Jaimie Eastabrook

Tourism Development Officer