Since the start of the pandemic, there has been an increased focus on purchasing from local businesses. Given the current fragility of supply chains, it has never been more critical to support local growers. From contributing to provincial GDP to creating meaningful work for farmers, supporting growers can have a major impact on the health of local communities.
Grand River Enterprises is based out of Ohsweken and is licensed by the federal government as a tobacco grower. Grand River Enterprises is located on the Six Nations of the Grand River Reserve and benefits from the continued support of the local community. Representatives of the business take the time to outline why it is essential to support local growers, citing employment, economic support, fresher products, accountability, and environmental impact.
There are currently roughly 38,000 farm members across Ontario. According to the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, the agriculture industry contributes 13.7 billion to Ontario’s annual GDP, employs over 158,000 people, and produces $8.1 billion in wages and salaries for local growers. It might surprise you to know that Ontario farmers currently grow more than 200 commodities. As innovators, planners, and hard workers, local growers contribute immense value to our communities, and Grand River Enterprises are here to outline exactly how they do that.
Additional Employment Opportunities
Supporting local growers provides and sustains paid opportunities for thousands of workers. At Grand River Enterprises, the reserve that their facility is built on is the most populous reserve in Canada, employing more than 400 people. As the largest private employer on the reserve, Grand River Enterprises has created long-term employment opportunities for people living in Six Nations of the Grand River—which has the largest population of all First Nations in Canada. The support of this community also directly supports other individuals, businesses, and community members in the surrounding area.
As a representative of Grand River Enterprises explains, “Every dollar spent locally by employees re-circulates in the economy with other local businesses; this includes everything from housing, food, gas, entertainment, electricity, property, and income taxes. Undeniably, choosing local growers helps create jobs and supports economic growth in your community.”
Local Economic Support
Taxes paid by local growers increase the ability of the government to improve roads, public transportation, health care, policing, and other public programs and facilities. According to studies by the American Farmland Trust, farms contribute more in taxes than they require in services, whereas most development contributes less in taxes than the cost of required services. Grand River Enterprises is one of the largest taxpayers in Southwestern Ontario—the jobs that they produce help to drive the Ontario economy forward.
Many local growers also invest in the well-being of their communities. Local businesses tend to be larger supporters of local organizations like networking groups, chambers, charities, events, sports sponsorships, etc. For example, Grand River Enterprises currently makes large charitable donations to First Nations causes. They also provide funding for projects on the reserve, aiding in the creation of other reserve-based businesses. As a grower deeply invested in uplifting the Six Nations of Grand River Reserve, Grand River Enterprises have already made significant contributions to the health, well-being, and growth of the community in which they operate.
Unlike imported commodities, local produce has to travel a shorter distance, providing the end-user with the freshest possible product. Grand River Enterprises, which sells Sago, Putters, DK’s, Ménage, Oakdale, and Golden Leaf in Canada, explains that the difference in freshness is undeniable. Locally grown commodities often taste better because they have had less time in transit. This state of freshness also ensures that the consumer is experiencing the product as it was intended. When items are harvested at their peak and processed in nearby facilities, everyone benefits.
How many commodities do you currently purchase that were grown in Brazil, Mexico, Chile, or Guatemala? Unfortunately, these imports are not without an environmental impact. Supporting local growers decreases the number of miles your product has to travel. The more miles collected during transportation, the more fossil fuels are burned, allowing more harmful greenhouse gas emissions to be released into the atmosphere. In addition to reducing the distance, your product has to travel, well-managed farms provide ecosystem services: they conserve fertile soil, protect water sources, and sequester carbon from the atmosphere. Ontario farmers take pride in being good stewards of the land, helping to preserve it for future generations.
Founded in 1993, Grand River Enterprises is an entirely native-owned Ontario grower. According to a representative of Grand River Enterprises, “Supporting local growers like GRE is an investment in the future of your community. Every time you support local growers by purchasing their products, you help to ensure that there will be farms in your community tomorrow.”