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Cost of vegetables at local farmer’s markets starting to rise with fuel prices | CBC News

The owner of a certified organic farm in Thorndale, Ont., says she feels caught between trying to keep her prices low and the rising cost of farming. 

Laurie Ahrens says rising fuel costs, inflation and supply chain issues might force her to increase produce prices. She’s already upped the price of salad grains since the seed prices have doubled.

 “It’s obviously just costing us more to produce the food. Our tractors and tillers and all that do take fuel,” said Ahrens, who owns Edible Acres, a roughly five-acre farm that grows organic vegetables. 

“The food is actually costing more to produce directly on the farm, and then it’s costing us more to get to market,” she added. 

Edible Acres says they’re struggling to stay afloat because of rising costs of doing business. (Facebook)

Ahrens sells products at the Masonville Farmers’ Market in London, Ont., and at two other farmer’s markets in Stratford. She does some wholesale business as well. 

Gas prices across the province are at unprecedented highs, affecting how people live, work, travel and, in this case, farm. In southern Ontario, regular unleaded was selling for around 204.9 cents per litre as of Thursday. 

“Everything’s gone up,” said Ahrens. “We’ve got to get it somewhere somehow. Even just packaging. We’ve tried to get away from plastic, so now we’re using reusable containers, but those costs more.”

Tina Gokstorp, who also sells at Masonville Farmers’ Market, says she’s increased prices for her products and will potentially continue to do so because of fuel prices and inflation. 

She founded GF Farms in Ailsa Craig, Ont., two years ago, farming poultry, including duck, chicken, and eggs, among other things, on nearly 100 acres. 

Tina Gokstorp says they’re not selling products at as many farmer’s markets as they used to because of rising fuel costs. (Submitted by Tina Gokstorp)

“I set the price for our chicken and that’s based on what it costs us, where we get our birds, where we feel comfortable buying them, where we get our feed, where we feel comfortable that they have a good quality feed, where we take them to be processed because we feel like, you know, they use our methodology,” said Gokstorp.

She also explained that because of the rising fuel prices, it’s not practical to sell at markets that are an hour or so away. They’re not attending as many farmer’s markets as they used to, so sales are down.

‘Getting out of farming’

“If you’re small, your overhead still is pretty high, and your returns are diminished because of your size,” said Crispin Colvin, Director of Ontario Federation of Agriculture. “It’s a tough battle. There’s no question about it.”

“My heart goes out to the small farmers,” he said, adding that it’s a balancing act. 

“It’s trying to find the right people who want your product at a price point that you can afford to make money. But no farmer, whether it’s organic or conventional — doesn’t matter — no farmer should have to sell their product for less than a profit margin, or less than the cost of production.”

As for Ahrens at Edible Acres, she’s reluctant to raise their prices because they want to keep their product affordable, and also points out that if the price is out of reach, people won’t buy their products, and the food will go to waste. 

But the status quo isn’t quite working.

“We’re not the only farmer, but there are many of us that if something doesn’t change, we will be getting out of farming,” said Ahrens, who has been farming full time for over six years. 

“I know if we don’t look at increasing our prices, it will be another loss year,” she added. “Like last year, we had a big loss. Nothing made.”

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