I ♥ Farmland: Heather’s Story
Despite a late introduction to agriculture, I’m well and truly hooked. Over the past decade, I have been fortunate enough to work on a farm, be on both sides of the stall at farmers markets in Ontario and Newfoundland, and complete university research with farming communities. As Ontario Farmland Trust’s Policy & Land Program Assistant, my dedication to farmland protection is both professional and deeply personal.
My farmland story really begins on a small mixed-vegetable farm in the Holland Marsh where I learned the ins and outs of long days, hard work, and hands that were always a ‘clean’ kind of dirty.
Our location in the Marsh felt really unique.
On the one hand, we were surrounded by fields upon fields of carrots and onions. I saw the same people at the softball games, the library, and out in their fields or in their barns. Whether we chatted about field conditions, commiserated about the weather, or something entirely unrelated to farming, I always got a sense that we were in it together, despite differences in our operations, and I was surrounded by people who understood.
On the other hand, we were also within a short drive of our markets. I could connect weekly with our customers and a whole community of people who appreciated what I did and wanted to talk and learn about farming. Whether I was grabbing a coffee at a local café after delivering our produce or chatting with families at a nearby farmers market, I could connect with people who were really passionate about local food.
These were two different communities but we needed both to thrive. The farming community on one hand and our customers and local food enthusiasts on the other.
For me, when we protect farmland we’re also protecting communities. We’re helping to protect a whole system.
Farms cannot thrive in isolation and cannot exist without productive farmland.
This is why I work hard to permanently protect farmland and support the Ontario Farmland Trust. I want to make sure that farmers continue to have access to the resources they need and that we all have access to local food now and in the future.