Nationally, fruits and vegetables account for less than 3% of organic farmland in Canada. However, this category is a cornerstone of the organic market as it is the most commonly purchased category of organic foods (Canada Organic Trade Association).

In 2018, Ontario had roughly 5,900 acres of organic fruit and vegetable crops, which made up approximately 3.6% of Ontario's total organic acreage (Canada Organic Trade Association). In 2018, Ontario ranked third among the provinces for total organic fruit and vegetable crop area (7.4%), behind Quebec (63%) and British Columbia (18%). In 2018, Ontario's top organic fruit crops by acreage were wine grapes and apples, and Ontario's top organic vegetable crops by acreage were tomatoes, sweet corn, and potatoes. This report provides an overview of the Ontario organic fruit and vegetable sector.

Distribution of Organic Nationally

The Canadian organic sector has been growing steadily as demand for organic products continues to rise. Nationally, organic operations and acreage represent approximately 3.2% of cropland and 2.2% of farms, as measured by the Canada Organic Trade Association and 2016 Census of Agriculture.

Ontario Organic Overview

Ontario Organic Farms

In the 2016 Census of Agriculture, 854 farms reported selling organic or transitional products. Of the farms reporting organic product sales, 136 were classified as producing primarily fruits and vegetables and 57 were classified as producing greenhouse crops and floriculture, together making up roughly 7% of all Ontario fruit, vegetable and greenhouse farms. 

Roughly 19% percent of organic farms in Ontario (nearly one-fifth) are producing fruits, vegetables or greenhouse crops as their predominant type of production, compared to 11% of non-organic farms.

Ontario Organic Acreage

Ontario’s total organic acreage in 2018 was approximately 161,970 acres, up from 160,700 in 2017 (Canada Organic Trade Association). Of this, organic fruits and vegetables accounted approximately 3.4% of total Ontario organic acreage. 

In 2018, organic fruits and vegetables accounted for approximately 3% of total horticultural crops grown in Ontario (COTA and Statistics Canada Fruit & Vegetable Survey, 2018). This is a slightly higher percentage of organic than for other types of crops. 

Organic Fruit and Vegetable Crop Acreage by Province

Nationally, fruits, nuts, vegetables and root crops make up approximately 2% of Canadian organic acreage. In 2018, Ontario ranked third among the provinces for total organic fruit and vegetable crop area (7.4%), behind Quebec (63%) and British Columbia (18%) (Canada Organic Trade Association, 2019).  

Provincial Share of Canada’s Organic and Non-Organic Fruit and Vegetable Acreage

For further context, Statistics Canada collects total fruit and vegetable acreage in their annual Fruit and Vegetable Survey. This chart compares data from the Fruit and Vegetable survey with acreage data collected by the Canada Organic Trade Association. 

In 2018, Ontario made up approximately 24% of Canada’s non-organic fruit and vegetable acreage, just ahead of Quebec at 23%. However, Ontario has a much smaller share of organic fruit and vegetable acreage, making up only 7% of Canada’s total organic fruit and vegetable acreage. In contrast, Quebec has the largest organic fruit and vegetable acreage in Canada with 63%. British Columbia and Saskatchewan are each occupying a larger share of organic fruits and vegetables grown than non-organic fruits and vegetables.

Historical Organic Fruit and Vegetable Crop Acreage by Province

The Canada Organic Trade Association tracks the organic fruit and vegetable acreage by province. Nation-wide between 2014 and 2015, fruit & nut acreage increased by nearly 50 percent, while the fresh vegetable and root crop acreage tripled. Ontario’s growth in fruits and vegetables has been largely in the vegetable category. Ontario’s 2018 fruit and vegetable acreage numbers are about 52% greater than 2013 levels. However this is much less than other provinces which have experienced triple-digit growth since 2013.

In particular, Quebec’s organic fruit and vegetable acreage has grown significantly since 2015, when the Quebec government announced a $9 million Organic Growth Strategy that included a number of sector supports.  According to the Quebec Ministry of Agriculture, between May 2015 and April 2017, a total of $1.1 million was provided in financial assistance for organic advisory and extension services to benefit a total of 1142 organic businesses.  That’s an average of approximately $500,000 per year or $963.00 per producer (Organic Council of Ontario, Sector-Wide Report 2018).  

Ontario’s Historical Organic Fruit and Vegetable Acreage

The following chart illustrates Ontario’s historic organic acreage by crop type, with the fruit and vegetable category highlighted. Data from 2003-2013 was collected by the Canadian Organic Growers, and data from 2012 to present is collected and analyzed by the Canada Organic Trade Association. Growth has been gradual and steady for the most part. The increase in organic acreage between 2009-2010 coincides with the Canada Organic Regime coming into effect.

Ontario Organic Fruit and Vegetable Acreage, 2020

Ontario Organic Key Fruit & Veg Crops

The following data for the 2020 detailed fruit and vegetable organic acreage was provided by the certifying bodies (Pro-Cert, Ecocert, CSI, and OCIA) and analyzed by OCO. Note that our totals are slightly different from the totals reported in COTA’s annual By the Numbers report, likely due to differences in categorization. 

The table to the right includes acreage numbers for some of the key organic fruit and vegetable crops grown in Ontario. In Ontario, organic fruit acreage makes up about 40% of the total organic fruit and vegetable acreage, and organic vegetable acreage makes up roughly 60% of the total organic fruit and vegetable acreage. In 2020, apples made up the most organic acreage in Ontario, which is likely in part because organic orchards a greater acreage than other types of fruit and vegetable production. It is followed by followed by sweet corn, wine grapes, potatoes and asparagus. 

Ontario Detailed Vegetable Acreage by Crop Type, 2020

Ontario produces a diverse number of organic vegetables. Sweet corn, potatoes, and asparagus made up the largest acreage in 2020. 

Other and mixed vegetables include mixed vegetables (when recorded by the certifying body this typically means that more than one type of vegetable is grown on the same plot of land), rhubarb, artichokes, fennel, fiddlehead, mushrooms, and other unspecified vegetables. This category makes up roughly 32% of the Ontario organic vegetable acreage.

Cucurbits include squash (including zucchini), cucumbers, pumpkin, and other unspecified cucurbits. Squashes made up 46% of this category in cucumbers made up 44% of this category in 2020.  

Fruiting vegetables include tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, okra and tomatillos. Tomatoes made up approximately 52% of the organic fruiting vegetables.

Roots and bulbs include carrots, sweet potato, garlic, onions, beets, Jerusalem artichokes, turnips, shallots, radishes, horseradish, leeks, garlic chives, rutabaga, ginger and turmeric. Carrots made up about 44% of this category. However, sweet potato and garlic together made up nearly 30% of the roots and bulbs. Potatoes are also a root crop, but have been given their own category in the chart below, as potatoes made up 10% of the total organic vegetable crops in Ontario in 2018.

Brassicas include broccoli, kale, cabbage, bok choy, brussels sprouts, collards, cauliflower, kohlrabi, pak choy, and unspecified brassicas. Broccoli, kale, and cabbage made up 92% of this category.   

Leafy Greens include lettuces, spinach, arugula, swiss chard, celery, sprouts, shoots and microgreens and other greens. Lettuces, spinach and arugula make up about 56% of organic leafy greens. 

Herbs include cilantro, chives, basil, dill, parsley, oregano, sage and other unspecified herbs. Cilantro makes up 35% of the organic herbs. Together, brassicas, leafy greens and herbs make up about 10% of Ontario’s 2018 organic vegetable acreage.   

Legumes include fresh beans, edamame, fresh sweet peas, and other legumes. Fresh green beans make up 52% of this category. 

Please note that greenhouse vegetables have not been included as data was inconsistent for this category.

Ontario Detailed Fruit Acreage by Crop Type, 2018

Tree fruits made up the majority of organic fruit acreage in Ontario, which makes sense as orchards and vineyards need more land space than other types of fruit crops. Apples made up 95% of the acreage in this category in 2020. Other tree fruits included in this category are pears, peaches, cherries, plums, nectarines and other tree fruits not specified.

Grapes made up the second largest segment of fruit acreage in 2020, with wine grapes making up at least 94% of the grape acreage. 

Berries include blueberries, haskap berries, strawberries, raspberries and other berries. Berries make up 8% of Ontario’s fruit acreage, with haskap and blueberries making up 67% of the berry acreage. Haskap berries are growing in popularity, which StatsCan has observed may be due to new scientific research that has identified haskaps as “a viable crop because of its ability to withstand frigid Canadian temperatures” (Shumsky, 2018).

Melons include watermelons, cantaloupe and unspecified melons.

The Other category includes nuts and other fruits (not specified, or listed as small fruit or mixed fruit). 

A Closer Look at Key Fruit and Vegetable Crops

The following charts and analysis combine fruit and vegetable acreage reported in the 2018 Statistics Canada Fruit and Vegetable Survey (total acreage) with the acreage data that OCO collected from certifying bodies. The charts look at some key fruit and vegetable crops grown in Ontario in 2018, and what percentage of the acreage was grown organically. The crops are sorted in the order of greatest organic acreage.

On average, organic vegetable crops made up approximately 2.6% of total vegetable acreage in Ontario in 2018.  There are some vegetables performing better than this 2.6% average (in particular sweet potatoes and garlic), but others that are either at or below the average but make up a larger proportion of Ontario’s total vegetable crop acreage (eg. potatoes and sweet corn).    

Tomatoes: According to the StatsCan 2018 Fruit and Vegetable survey, Ontario had roughly 90% of Canada’s tomato acreage. Tomatoes are the vegetable crop with the highest organic acreage in Ontario, however as a percentage of total tomato acreage in the province, organic made up only 3% in 2018.

Sweet Corn: In the StatsCan 2018 Fruit and Vegetable Survey, sweet corn made up the second-largest acreage of vegetables grown in Ontario with over 19,000 acres. Organic sweet corn acreage made up 1.9% of the total sweet corn acreage.   

Potatoes: In 2018, potatoes made up the largest acreage of vegetables grown in Ontario with 34,000 acres. However, organic potatoes made up less than 1% of this total.

Sweet Potatoes: Sweet potatoes have increased significantly in acreage over the past 15 years (Statistics Canada, 2018).  In 2018, Ontario had nearly 98% of the sweet potato acreage in Canada. This is a crop where the ratio of organic acreage is higher than average, at 5% organic.   

Garlic: According to the Statistics Canada 2018 Fruit and Vegetable survey, Ontario made up nearly 50% of Canada’s garlic acreage. It is therefore quite significant that organic garlic in Ontario made up 11% of total garlic acreage reported in 2018.

On average, organic fruit crops made up approximately 4.6% of total fruit acreage  in Ontario in 2018. 

Apples: In the 2018 StatsCan Fruit and Vegetable Survey, Ontario led all provinces with roughly 36% of Canada’s apple acreage. Organic apples made up 8% of the total apple acreage in Ontario in 2018.

Grapes: Grapes are another significant Ontario fruit crop. In the 2018 StatsCan Fruit and Vegetable Survey, Ontario led all provinces with roughly 59% of Canada’s fresh grape acreage. Organic grapes made up 4.2% of the total grape acreage in Ontario in 2018.

Berries: In 2018, organic berries made up 3.2% of the total berry acreage in Ontario. In Canada, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and British Columbia lead all berry production.

Source Notes and Methodology

Please visit our source notes page for more information about the data sources used in this report.

Further Reading was launched by Canadian Organic Growers Perth-Waterloo-Wellington as part of a project funded by the Agricultural Management Institute to support the local organic sector through the development of farm management tools. Please note that this tool is no longer being actively maintained.

The COABC maintains a weekly organic fruit and vegetable price list.

Statistics Canada conducts an annual fruit and vegetable survey, collecting data to produce estimates of the total cultivated area, the harvested area, total production, marketed production and the farm gate value of selected fruits and vegetables grown in Canada. In July 2020, Statistics Canada published experimental data on fruit and vegetable certified organic cultivated area.

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) publishes regular statistics on the horticultural sector in Ontario. Please note, these statistics do not include organic specific data.

Learn More About

Cost of Production for Organic Salad Greens

This document is part of the 2020 series of organic cost of production (COP) models prepared by the Organic Council of Ontario. This particular model focuses on the organic production of salad greens based on financial data from 2018.

This resource enables a producer from a working market garden to use budget figures to determine their approximate full Costs of Production (COP) for organic salad greens. This can be used by either large or small-scale growers, for seasonal outdoor production, with or without season-extension hoop-houses, and/or year-round greenhouse production which includes microgreens. It could also be modified to work for additional market garden vegetables. The results can serve as a valuable guide for business decision-making, and understanding elements of profitability.