About the Central Experimental Farm

The Central Experimental Farm is 427 hectares (1,055 acres) of open space in downtown Ottawa, the capital of Canada, and borders the historic Rideau Canal.

History of the Farm

The Central Experimental Farm dates from 1886. Its original mandate was to be the central or focal point for a Canada-wide system of experimental farms to help resolve farm production questions. From an initial 5 sites, this national network has grown into a partnership of 19 and now includes multiple locations, sub stations and field sites in every Canadian province.

The Central Experimental Farm cropping fields and plot areas have played an essential part in many research and development successes. These include new cereal grains such as wheat varieties which have proven to be highly adapted to Canadian soils and weather. These varieties have demonstrated their value as they helped open up the Canadian prairies to agricultural production during the 20th century.

The Central Experimental Farm Advisory Council was established in 1999 to ensure public participation in the Farm’s management and to help ensure the continuing historic site designation. The Central Experimental Farm National Historic Site Management Plan provides the Farm's long-term management framework to balance the Farm's dual role as National Historic Site and an active research centre though the Ottawa Research and Development Centre.

The Central Experimental Farm has housed many diverse research programs including:

  • soils and Canadian land inventory;
  • food and dairy products processing technology;
  • horticulture and ornamental plant breeding;
  • agriculture engineering and farm mechanical systems;
  • animal and poultry breeding and production;
  • agricultural and forest insect identification and control methods;
  • agricultural chemistry analysis methodology;
  • plant and animal pathology;
  • bacteriology and plant health;
  • cereal and forage crop production utilization;
  • tobacco;
  • bee research.

Frequently the research subject ranged from the whole organism down to the cellular or more recently the molecular level.

On the Farm

As an active research centre, the Central Experimental Farm is home to the Canadian National Collection of Insects, Arachnids and Nematodes and field plots devoted to plant breeding and agronomy studies.

Major attractions on the Farm include the Arboretum and the adjacent Ornamental Gardens, the Tropical Greenhouse.

The Canada Agriculture and Food Museum is a tourist destination on the Central Experimental Farm. Visit the museum to see exhibitions, artifacts and collections, learn about Canada’s scientific and technological heritage and experience the petting zoo and Farm.

The Fletcher Wildlife Garden - The Ottawa Field-Naturalists' Club and Friends of the Farm are two organizations who use the grounds and facilities of the Central Experimental Farm for public outreach programs.

Into its second century, the Central Experimental Farm continues its scientific focus as the location for laboratories and research plots. More than an active research centre and beautiful surroundings, the Central Experimental Farm is a National Historic Site and a taste of rural Canada.