Welcome Melissa and Hershil!

OFT is excited to announce the addition of two new team members! We would like to extend a big welcome to Melissa, our new Communications and Development Manager, and Hershil, our new Policy and Event Planning Intern. Learn about Hershil and Melissa, and why they care about farmland protection, in their introductions below!

Hershil

Hello to all! My name is Hershil Sheth, and I am the newly hired Policy and Event Planning Intern with the Ontario Farmland Trust.  I am a recent graduate of York University’s Environmental and Urban Change program specializing in Environmental Management. This year I will be participating in planning the Annual Farmland Forum for 2022, researching and developing farmland protection policies, working collaboratively with farmers and local communities, and fundraising to support current and future initiatives.

Both my parents were immigrants here to Canada, and my father was one of the first pioneers in the flour industry in Ontario to mill specific varieties of flour. Some of them included Durum whole wheat and chickpea flour and they were essential in traditional cooking for many different ethnicities. I was always raised with the mentality that “you are what you eat”, so for me eating sustainable, locally produced food makes me feel the most wholesome and healthy. Knowing our agricultural lands are being compromised daily affects me on a very personal level and this is what inspires me to be a part of a team that helps protect our province’s farmland. If I can do my part to ensure food security for future generations, I will have paid homage to my family and the many other farmers, processors and distributors that ensure we have food on our tables. There is a quote by Hippocrates, a famous Greek physician “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” and I truly believe we should view our farmland as the source of our healing.

Melissa

Hello friends, my name is Melissa Schneider and I am Ontario Farmland Trust’s new Communications and Development Manager. Having spent my career with one foot in the world of Communications and Journalism and the other foot in agriculture, I could not be more excited to align myself with Ontario Farmland Trust’s core values.

I grew up on a cash crop farm in Sparta (Elgin County) and spent many years being involved in agriculture. Now I am President of the Elgin Federation of Agriculture and stay involved in policy planning and a wide-variety of issues that face agriculture today.

As a farmer’s daughter, I know first hand I know how important it is to keep people connected to their food and the processes that get food from farm to table. Having a stable and sustainable food supply chain is critical. As a private citizen, I am greatly concerned about the rate at which we are losing prime agricultural land to development and urban sprawl. My goal is to support OFT’s mission to preserve prime agricultural lands throughout Ontario for future generations.  We can always create more houses, but we cannot create more farmland.