Ont. backs cucumber grading plant with $1M

Southern Ontario cucumber growers have a greater likelihood of new contracts once their local buyer’s grading and shipping plant is upgraded to process their crops more quickly.

Thames Van Farms’ cucumber grading and shipping facility in the Chatham-Kent area is to get over $1 million in provincial funds toward a retrofit allowing it to process more cucumbers.

That, in turn, is expected to boost the potential for new contracts for up to 150 local producers, the Ontario government said in a release Thursday announcing the funds.

“We know that through this project we will be able to build new relationships for growers that will open new markets and highlight Ontario cucumbers as the best in world,” Thames Van Farms general manager Jeff VanRoboys said in the province’s release.

“This investment not only allows Ontario growers to effectively compete with imported hand harvest cucumbers from foreign markets like India, but increases acreage, raises farm gate sales and creates jobs for the economy.”

The facility, which in the produce industry is called a “green” shipping plant, is where producers haul and sell their cucumbers for the company to sort, grade, clean, inspect and separate them.

“By increasing the productivity within Thames Van Farms Ltd., we will have the opportunity to replenish approximately 1,000 acres worth of high-value crop that was lost through increased foreign competition and volatile markets,” local MPP Maria Van Bommel said in the release.

The funding, flowing through the province’s Rural Economic Development program, will also help the company create and retain 100 full- and part-time jobs, plus over 2,000 seasonal jobs, the province said.

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