2016 is the year we remember as being unusually dry across much of Niagara Region. The dry conditions highlighted the need for access to irrigation water and consequences of inadequate irrigation. A number of grower organizations, working together with Niagara Region, coordinated by Niagara Peninsula Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association, were approved for a Growing Forward 2 grant to develop an Irrigation Strategy Action Plan for Niagara. The focus of this work is on farmland used for horticultural production, including grapes, tender fruit, nursery and greenhouse, below the escarpment. The work is important to the future of your farm and your neighbours’.
The strategy depends on grower input – your input. You will help define and assess the need for irrigation water and build the business case for the benefits that better access will bring. Your input is vital in order to develop a series of prioritized short term and long term actions to address the supply and utilization of irrigation water for your crops.
On Monday, October 30, the Irrigation Strategy Action Plan Steering Committee, chaired by Bill Schenck, is hosting a special session for growers in the cafeteria at Niagara Region 1815 Sir Isaac Brock Way. Thorold in Campbell East wing. from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Refreshments will be served.
What is the session about?
The Committee has engaged Erik Lockhart, an experienced facilitator from Queen’s University with a system of capturing input simultaneously through digital means, to conduct this session. The facilitator will be leading the participants through a set of questions designed to draw out and define the needs for irrigation water. Preliminary work on the strategy shows that the needs vary from farm to farm and from area to area across the crop-growing land below the escarpment.
Even if your farm had sufficient supply of water in 2016, it could be very important for you to participate, if you have any concerns about the continuity of or access to that supply in the long term ahead. You will have opportunity to express those concerns to make sure that they are factored into the plan.
It’s a busy time of year — Why does it matter if I come?
The meeting is being held as late in the fall as the terms of the funding grant allow in order to respect the harvest demands on growers.
A strong showing by growers and your active engagement will help convey a message to governments of the importance of the issue of irrigation water access to cropland in Niagara and provide the underpinning for a sound strategy.