Ornamental horticulture is one of Canada’s hidden gems.

Not enough Canadians know about how important our sector is to Canada’s economy. Nor do they realize what how our products contribute to the betterment of our living spaces.

COHA-ACHO is working to change that lack of recognition. We are taking initiative to raise the level of awareness of our sector across government at all levels.

The growers in our sector go about their business every day. We make our important contribution to Canada’s economy.But we don’t make headlines. So it is easy to forget about us and take us for granted.

At the time of the last federal census in 2016, there were 7,320 farms across Canada in our sector including floriculture greenhouses and field operations dedicated to nursery, sod and Christmas tree production.As a sector, the farmgate value of our production is greater than grapes, apples, potatoes, berries and tender fruit all combined together. Greenhouse floriculture accounts for more farmgate cash receipts than greenhouse vegetables.

About one-quarter of what we grow in Canada gets exported outside Canada, mostly to the US market. Unlike food products, when ornamental horticulture products from our sector are sold, the consumer pays commodity taxes.When you buy nursery stock or bedding plants, depending on what Province you live in, you may pay up to 15% in sales taxes. Our sector of agriculture is unique because we contribute far more in commodity tax revenues to federal and provincial treasuries than our growers receive through programs and services.

Our sector is responsible for products that make Canadians’ lives better.Studies have shown that plants are beneficial to mental and emotional health as well as conferring many other physical benefits to the living spaces where they thrive.

We need policy support to ensure that we can be competitive. For example, we need access to a reliable labour supply for our farms. Although advanced technologies have been widely implemented to boost productivity, ornamental horticulture is very labour intensive because of the care taken in growing and handling delicate products.

We understand concerns about global climate change. Green plants are part of the solution. Plants take carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and fix it as carbon in living plant material through the process of photosynthesis. Adding additional plants to our living spaces, indoor and outdoor, makes for better air quality.

We look forward to your help in getting our message out in the year ahead – ornamental horticulture matters to Canada!

Dave Captein