MEDA’s Leamington, ON chapter members are reaching across the ocean to lend a hand to fellow greenhouse farmers participating in UHDP – the Ukraine Horticultural Development Project.
The Leamington chapter will host a delegation of 15 greenhouse growers and project staff for a 10-day visit to Leamington area greenhouse farms, buyers and co-ops from May 29 to June 5. With the largest concentration of greenhouses in North America and more than 1,500 acres “under cover,” the Leamington area is known as the greenhouse capital of North America – and the tomato capital of Canada.
Leamington chapter members have shown a keen interest in the Ukraine project, raising more than $15,000 to help increase productivity and profitability for 5,000 Ukraine farmers. Now they are looking forward to sharing their insight and expertise with others who are facing the same challenges they have already successfully overcome.
“The greenhouses in the Leamington area are 20-30 years ahead of Ukraine,” notes Nigel Motts, MEDA’s director of agriculture market linkages. “Over the past 15-20 years, they have gone through the same transformation to new technologies that their Ukraine colleagues are now trying to accomplish. On both sides of the ocean, growers recognize that adopting new technology gives you an edge in the market.”
Adds Katie Turner, senior consultant/project manager: “All farmers are very proud of their farms, and happy to share their experiences. Now the Leamington hosts can show their guests from the Ukraine the potential they have to grow. Upon their return to Ukraine, the group will share what they have learned with other farmers – so their new knowledge will reach all project clients and partners.”
UHDP now boasts more than 2,370 clients – small farmers who are working to increase their incomes and move towards a more prosperous future. MEDA supporters are helping them restore Ukraine to its former glory as the breadbasket of Europe.