OFT Welcomes New Executive Director

Ontario Farmland Trust is pleased to welcome our new Executive Director, Martin Straathof!

Martin’s previous experience is diverse, ranging from agriculture, to non-profit work, and even rural planning. OFT is excited to have him on board, so that he can put his wide range of expertise to work!

Martin grew up on a dairy farm just west of Ottawa in Arnprior, Ontario. He spent much of his childhood helping his family with the chores (of which there are many), and participating in local 4-H clubs. While much of his time on the farm was spent with cows, he does have a particular soft spot for goats. He then pursued an undergraduate degree in International Development (with an emphasis on rural and agricultural development) at the University of Guelph.

After graduation he went back to the farm for a year before taking a position with the University of Guelph’s Alumni Affairs and Development with the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC).  “Working for OAC was great, because I got to work with passionate donors who wanted to support innovative research and advance educational opportunities around food, agriculture, environment and communities.,” Martin said. “It let me keep a pulse on the needs of the agri-food industry.” While working at OAC, Martin started his master’s degree in rural planning and development, which led him to a job working for Halton Region’s agricultural land use policy team.

Martin’s dog, Calder, also loves goats!

Martin is no stranger to the impacts of urban sprawl. It’s happening in his home town. He is also keenly aware of how interdependent agriculture, food and communities are, and ensuring Ontario’s communities are able to feed themselves in the future is something he is passionate about.

With the updated Census of Agriculture statistics reflecting a loss of 319 acres per day in Ontario, Martin notes that:

“Losing this much land per day is not sustainable. This is a wicked problem and we want to work with the full range of stakeholders, including governments, policy makers, farmers, and developers, to find a solution to these problems. It will take a lot of unique thinking to find solutions to address the needs of Ontarians without losing more farmland, and we look forward to being at the table for those discussions.”

Martin’s vision for the Ontario Farmland Trust is to continue building on the incredible and impactful work the organization has been accomplishing for almost 20 years.

“We as an organization need to be active throughout the Province, engage in policy discussions, and educate Ontarians of the importance of farmland protection,” he said. “A big part of that will be done through community engagement and creating unique partnerships to get in front of people who maybe have not considered farmland protection before.”

If you have questions about farmland protection, visit the following links.

Or, reach out to Martin directly with your questions: Martin@ontariofarmlandtrust.ca