The 2008 Farmland Preservation Forum brought together a network of actors to address the issue of access to land for the next generation of farmers. Our goal for the event was to define shared objectives, establish key priorities, identify common obstacles, and develop a strategic direction towards ensuring that the next generation of Ontario farmers has access to land to farm.
The recent boom in the local food movement has ignited new interest among urban consumers in where their food comes from, and a growing commitment to support local farmers. New farmers’ markets are opening up across the province, independent grocery stores are investing in schemes to promote local produce, and a growing network of organizations are working to revitalize the local food system, thereby creating new and exciting opportunities for farming in Ontario.
If the movement for a sustainable food system is to secure these opportunities, however, we will need to address a number of issues facing the next generation of Ontario farmers. These issues include barriers around access to knowledge, markets, capital, and perhaps most critically, access to land.