“Love at first sight” leads to farmland protection

Love at first sight, that’s how Dee describes the moment she knew she found the farm of her dreams.

Working as a travel nurse in the United States in the mid-1990s, Dee had looked for over three years for a farm that would suit her needs. Having grown up in Quebec, Dee went home to visit family and friends in Prince Edward County every few months and always took the opportunity to drive around, looking for her forever home.

Alpacas grazing on the Hazell farm.

In 1998, Dee’s real estate agent took her to a rural property in Prince Edward County, and Dee knew she had found what she was looking for before she even got down the driveway. “Halfway down the driveway the tears started streaming down my face because I just knew it was home.” She made the offer later that night and owned it less than a week later.

At the time, the farm had a small house, a barn that was falling down and in dire need of repair (with trees growing out of the basement), but she saw good potential in the bones of the structures and thought it was perfect.

Dee moved in December 18, 1998, a date she recalls vividly, as she spent the first night in her new house with only a sleeping bag, air mattress and her coffee maker. After she dropped off her stuff in the house, she picked up her first farm dog, Jazz. “That was all I needed – I had a coffee maker, a dog and a house,” she laughs.

Over the next few years Dee worked hard to pay off her newly acquired farm so she could start the necessary repairs. The barn itself was a significant cost, needing new walls, concrete work, and, of course, the trees removed. Barn reconstruction began in 2004, and her partner Peter came onto the scene in 2005. Together they have made many improvements to the farm, including an off-grid house.

Mouse (the cat), supervising tractor use.

It was Dee’s love of the land that led her to the Ontario Farmland Trust. Not only did she want to see the farmland remain farmland, she also wanted to ensure the land remained affordable for the next generation.

“I would recommend the Ontario Farmland Trust to anyone who has farmland, or anyone who is concerned about farmland because we’re losing so much,” she said. “The process so far has been absolutely great and the more farms we can protect in Prince Edward County to slow down this crazy urban sprawl, the better.”

Dee’s farm, which is just under 100 acres, consists of hay fields and pastures for alpaca, interspersed with woodlots, wetlands, shorelines, and other significant ecological features. It also has a swamp, a bog and a creek.

With your help, we can help protect this farm forever.