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Additional Ways to Improve Productivity

Read the topics below for additional information related to improving productivity.

Exploring Novel Business Models

When choosing your business model, there are a number of aspects to consider with labour being one of most significant.For example, Community Shared Agriculture models can save considerable time on marketing and packaging produce and can eliminate the need for any retail sales, such as at farmer’s markets. Read on for an overview of CSAs and other types of business models.

Subscription based participation or Community Shared Agriculture – connects the producer and consumers within the food system more closely by allowing consumers to subscribe to the harvest of a certain farm or group of farms.

Advantages of CSAs include1:

  • CSAs can eliminate the need to spend a lot of time, effort, and expense on learning how to market, package, label, and distribute your produce.
  • CSAs minimize the time and risk inherent in going to farmers’ markets.
  • CSAs provide a guaranteed market and the knowledge of exactly how much produce will be needed each week.
  • Funds are provided by subscribers in advance of the planting season, allowing the farmer to buy seeds, maintain or build structures, repair equipment, and to cover living costs in the off-season.

Food Co-ops – In a CSA program, the farmer is providing directly to the consumer, whereas a food co-op is more like a grocery store, but will offer a selection of products from local growers.  Food co-ops provide stable markets for regional producers and processors. Co-ops may provide training and capacity-building, and coordinate peer-to-peer support among the member co-ops.

Food hubs – food hubs provide the physical connections between small scale production and a larger market. This enables small farmers to expand production and pool resources with other farmers to reach a greater production capacity and enter a larger, more stable market than they could otherwise be able to infiltrate. Food hubs provide an interconnecting link between producers and consumers that works in conjunction with the existing food infrastructure to provide small farmers with access to a market they would normally have difficulty entering.

Some food hubs provide oversight only, or coordinate services online, while others are located in a bricks and mortar structure with a governing board and multiple employees. A food hub can be non-profit, co-operative or operate under a standard for-profit business model. 2



“Simple technology like putting a misting system in your greenhouse so you don’t have to spend 2 hours per day in the spring to water can have a big impact”
– Amanda Bilek, Owner
Chilligo Creek Farm

“Even something simple like adding wheels to greenhouse tables can save on labour. The tables can be rolled outside for hardening off in the spring, instead of carrying trays out individually.”
– Amanda Bilek, Owner
Chilligo Creek Farm

“Look at the weather forecast for market day. If it’s going to rain all day on Saturday, sales will go down. If you can, delay harvesting and bring less product to the market that day.”
– Amanda Bilek, Owner
Chilligo Creek Farm

“Recent research on processing tomatoes in Ontario has shown yield increases of up to 81% on a range of soil types with the use of properly scheduled irrigation.”

“It’s very important to measure water use. Few irrigators use flow meters to track their water use. The natural tendency of growers in Ontario is to under irrigate. When growers do a better job of tracking water use, they tend to use more water but productivity increases. So amount of water used per unit produced may actually decrease.”
– Rebecca Shortt Engineer, Water Quantity, OMAFRA

Additional Resources:

Software Helps with Labour Tracking:

Ontario CSA Farm Directory:

Local Food and Farm Co-op Ontario:

Ontario Farm Fresh Marketing Association: