Share this Article

Durham Region sits along the eastern side of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), stretching out over urban and rural areas and nestled between three lakefronts. If you’re looking for a location with great access to customers—both local food enthusiasts and major food distributors—Durham Region is it. Agri-food businesses in Durham thrive because an economic mega-region is at their gates.

Durham Region is also in the Golden Horseshoe—that magic economic zone with rich, fertile soil— around Lake Ontario. Durham has the highest number of farms, acres of farmland and gross farm receipts in the GTA. In fact, Durham has as many as one quarter of the 5,000 farms in the entire Golden Horseshoe.

Production in Durham includes beef and dairy, poultry and egg, sheep and goat, oilseed and grain, vegetable and fruit, and greenhouse, vertical farms, nursery and floriculture. Durham Region’s farmers are known for adopting cutting-edge technology; state-of-the-art farming practices; and leading the way on research and innovation. Durham’s location on major transportation corridors makes it effective to distribute these goods to major urban areas.

Fresh to Market

Durham Region’s location makes it part of Canada’s dominant urban economy, a metropolitan area that ranks fifth in population among Canadian and American mega-regions. The GTA consistently occupies the positions of global rankings for livability, safety, and the best and easiest places to do business. Durham Region offers access to more than 135 million consumers within a day’s drive.

Given Durham’s proximity to consumer markets, and numerous transportation channels including the Port of Oshawa and multiple 400-series highways, Durham Region is in a great position to be a leader in supplying our urban markets and province with agri-food products.

Local Food Economy

Durham Region has a strong local food movement inspired by the diversity of locally grown and processed food options. With a current population of more than 700,000, the region is booming with an expected population of more than 1.3 million by 2051. This is a population with demonstrated interest in the local food movement, and food producers have incredible market potential right at their gates.

Based on the 2021 census, 291 farms reported direct-to-consumer sales of agricultural products, which include both unprocessed products such as fruit and honey, as well as value-added products like preserves and cider. Many farms sell directly through stands or gate sales, as well as pick-your-own and community supported agriculture. There’s a strong community of farmers markets in Durham.

Gates Open

Invest Durham’s Agriculture and Rural economic development and Tourism teams work together with Durham Farm Fresh to produce an annual event known as Gates Open, bringing additional attention to farms that have on-farm diversified uses.

A recent participant is Two Blokes Cider. Founded on a family farm, the cidery’s orchard contains more than 2000 apple trees representing 10 delicious bittersharp and bittersweet cider varieties. Two Blokes produces a variety of ciders and offers flights, tours, events and live music in a bucolic rural setting. The diversification of this working farm has created jobs and increased the long-term financial sustainability of the operation.

Durham is the Apple Capital of Canada and will soon be home to 10 cideries. Durham is home to the Country’s largest apple grower and processor, Algoma Orchards—who benefit from a favourable microclimate for apple growing alongside Lake Ontario. Durham is also home to many pick-your-own orchards, an Apple Festival and a few well-known fritter destinations.

The future of farming looks delicious in Durham

A demonstrated strength in urban farming and culinary talent are training nearby at Durham College’s W. Galen Weston Centre for Food. Indoor farms are expanding and innovative vertical farms have been choosing Durham Region for investment. A strong innovation community is established, momentum is building for on-farm diversified use and a growing population who support local food producers are residing nearby.

When combined, these factors mean that Durham Region is the very best choice for investment in Ontario for agri-business or related industries.

Learn more: InvestDurham.ca/agriculture.

Want more Durham articles? Click here.