I know it seems like a slow journey to protect this valuable resource, preserving one farm at a time, and promoting sound and beneficial farmland policy.
But, by working together, we are making good progress in farmland protection for our children, and forever.
I have been volunteering with Ontario land trusts for many years, and in particular with the Ontario Farmland Trust (OFT) since 2012. Whether we live in rural or urban communities, I believe we all have a role to play in protecting farmland and foodland for the future.
The Shaw farm is one of many examples of how farms and farmers have made and continue to make a difference. Our homestead is known as “Woodlawn”.
My brother and I still own and manage our family’s heritage farm in Norfolk County. This farm has been in our family for six generations. It was over 224 years ago that my ancestors came to Ontario to our farm homestead.
This land has been carefully stewarded and our legacy has been willingly passed down through each generation of my family.
I could not imagine and do not wish to imagine losing our Shaw farm heritage to urban and/or non-agricultural uses.
That is why the Shaw family is still farming our agricultural heritage. And this commitment to farmlands and healthy rural communities is also why I support the OFT as an annual donor, serve as a member of the Board of Directors, and serve as an active volunteer on its committees.
Whether you are a farmland owner or not, I am sure you can understand the importance of protecting the valuable soils on our farms and their food growing capacity. Where will our food come from in the future, if our local farmlands are excavated or paved over?
Our precious and productive farmland is not real estate for future development. We need to work together to protect it now, so our foodland is able to contribute forever.
Our ancestors worked hard and stewarded the land for us. Now it is our turn. We must ensure that farmlands, farmers, and farming will survive into the next generations.
I am passionate about protecting our farmlands for the benefit of all in Ontario and for the health and livelihood of the communities where we live and work. And I feel it is a debt of honour to pay it forward to my children, your children, and for the future.