HALIBURTON, ON – A new report claims Census data isn’t painting the whole picture when it says the number of farms is declining in the county.

Harvest Haliburton is promoting the findings from Food and Agriculture in Haliburton Country: Looking Beyond the Census. The report is co-authored by local residents Faye Adamson and Kate Hall.

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture had the number of farms in the area down to 59 in 2016 from 84 a decade prior. Adamson and Hall admitted bigger farms may be declining, but said smaller ones are popping up all across the region.

Harvest Haliburton is now asking anyone growing and selling local food to contact it and help create more accurate statistics of the region’s agricultural community. Local growers can identify themselves by completing an online form.

Melissa Johnston is a research consultant who is assisting Harvest Haliburton to achieve its goal of creating a stronger food system in the county.

“The Looking Beyond the Census report clarifies the on-the-ground reality of local food production and consumption in Haliburton,” Johnstone said. “It really confirms the need for more action to nurture this growing sector into 2020 and beyond.”

Creating the local food growers database is just one of six priorities the organization is trying to accomplish. Harvest Haliburton also wants to develop a Taste of the County brand that promotes locally produced food to visitors.

It is also putting food security and climate change at the top if its initiatives.