By Stephanie Gordon
In 2019, the Vegetable Transplant Program provided 1.7 million vegetable transplants to 54 commercial farmers at cost as part of a government push to help increase the variety of crops grown in Newfoundland and Labrador.
The program saw significant growth from the previous year, which saw 255,800 transplants distributed to 25 farmers in 2018.
According to the province’s year-end report on the program, the program is expected to result in approximately $1.6 million in combined revenues for participants. The program distributes transplants of various crops, including broccoli, cabbage, onion, kohlrabi, Brussels sprout, kale, leek, cauliflower, and rutabaga.
“Farmers report that this program has enabled them to successfully grow food they would not usually have tried to produce in Newfoundland and Labrador, and – due to the high quality of transplants produced at the Wooddale Centre – farmers are reporting increased yields per acre. This is a fantastic result,” said Gerry Byrne, minister of fisheries and land resources, in a released statement.
In addition, the province’s Fisheries and Land Resources officials have inspected all 54 participating farms and determined that with one exception, participating farmers have complied with utilization requirements, such as planting their complete orders as soon as possible to avoid decreasing the viability of the transplants, and maintaining transplants properly until planted to prevent loss of productivity or irreversible damage.
The Vegetable Transplant Program is part of the province’s goal to increase food self-sufficiency by at least 20 per cent by 2022. Currently, Newfoundland produces 10 per cent of the fruits and vegetables its residents eat and the plan is to double that figure in the upcoming years.
On top of the transplant program, the province is also testing out a mentorship program by the Federation of Agriculture where veteran farmers help and teach people getting into the business. The mentorship program will reduce the risks associated with starting out by providing knowledge support and experience from established growers.