As the year draws to a close, the barns have been stocked with hay, and the quiet winter months are upon us. Yet the tranquil, snow-blanketed fields are still full of life as creatures find their homes in the healthy soil of Ontario’s farmland.

As we wrap up another year in Ontario, we at the Ontario Farmland Trust (OFT) are reminded of the resilience and persistent vitality of our province’s farmland—much like our unwavering commitment to its protection.

Bringing About Change

This year, the power of collective action was unmistakably clear. Together, we witnessed the strength of our community as we joined forces to defend the Greenbelt, a testament to what we can accomplish with shared resolve. OFT emerged as a guiding force, as we were sought after for our expertise in safeguarding these precious lands. Our message for farmland protection was picked up by over 100 news outlets, and OFT spoke at Queen’s Park and at the announcement of the Rouge Urban National Park study (Note: video starts at 44:05). We also partnered countless times with a variety of organizations to bring awareness to the concerns over farmland loss in the province.

Concerns Persist

Our team is breathing a sigh of relief knowing that the land swap and the forced expansion of urban boundaries have been cancelled. But there is still more to do to protect farmland right now. Concerns across the province remain high in a number of areas: changing policies in the proposed Provincial Planning Statement, highway 413 threatening prime farmland, and pressures for urban sprawl persisting.

Of particular concern to OFT is that rapidly rising farmland prices are creating barriers for new farmers to enter agriculture, threatening the viability of our local food sector. This concern is compounded by the impacts that climate change and global instability are having on food availability and affordability.

Whether it’s the landowners who partner with OFT to voluntarily protect their properties with farmland conservation easements, the thousands that rallied for policy advocacy, or the hundreds of community members attending our educational events, OFT is witness to the power of people to bring about change.

Quick updates on our progress:

  • The Hazell conservation easement project in Prince Edward County will officially be protected by the end of the year!
  • OFT’s first donation of farmland is scheduled to close by December 15th!
  • The Stevens property is well on its way to receiving easement designation. Our target is March 2024.
  • Our Winter Webinar series has begun, with registration numbers in the hundreds!
Big Plans on the Way

As Ontario’s only farmland trust, we are positioned to play a significant role in farmland protection. We have big plans to broaden our impact by continuing to empower people and our communities.

With your support, we can achieve these plans, which include:

  • working with a record number of landowners in 2024 to protect their farm;
  • delivering webinars on innovative solutions to farmland protection;
  • increasing our presence at community outreach events to raise awareness;
  • developing community toolkits and resources to empower groups to protect farmland in their region;
  • continuing to comment on changing provincial policy;
  • partnering with other land trusts, funding agencies, and governments, to enhance our capacity to deliver on our mission; and
  • exploring the opportunities for OFT to help new and young farmers find affordable pathways into agriculture.

More people are recognizing us as the leader we’ve become thanks to the support of our generous donors. We couldn’t do it without you.

With over 40 landowners eager to partner with us, and more land trusts, grassroots organizations, and municipalities across Ontario asking OFT for our expertise to support their efforts in protecting farmland, we are poised to broaden our impact significantly beyond the 22 properties and over 2,500 acres we have already protected.

How Can You Help?

Your involvement is the bedrock of our achievements. Donations are critical to our success. But beyond that, by amplifying our voice within your circles, you catalyze the growth of a movement poised to make a lasting legacy that future generations will be thankful for.

We invite you to propel our message forward: safeguarding Ontario’s farmland is intertwined with the well-being of our food systems, climate, and communities. A simple post on your social media feed, or a conversation at a family dinner can make a big difference. You can help spread the word and thereby strengthen our mission. And when asked by your network how they can help, encourage them to head to our website to learn more and donate… It’s that simple!

We stand at the cusp of OFT’s 20th anniversary, a milestone that both commemorates our past achievements and prepares us for growth with new projects. For 20 years we have been a trailblazer in the world of conservation and farmland protection. With your advocacy, your support, and your belief in our mission, together we can forge the path to a sustainable future for Ontario’s farmland.

We are counting on the collective support of our donors to help us see this through. Please consider making a donation today.

Together, let’s cultivate awareness, nurture public engagement, and sow the seeds for a legacy of sustainable land use.

Warm regards,

Martin Straathof
Executive Director

P.S. We are always here to discuss our initiatives or explore how you can lend your time, thoughts, or resources to further our cause. Reach out to us. Your ideas and enthusiasm are the lifeblood of our mission.

Donate before December 31st to give the gift of farmland to future generations, and to receive a tax receipt for 2023. 

“As a volunteer and donor of OFT, and as a farmer in Ontario, I can say without a doubt that OFT is surpassing expectations in the agricultural sector. Their unwavering commitment to protecting and preserving farmland is leading the charge. Their incredible efforts to advocate for farmland and for a legitimate, viable, and sustainable growth plan for Ontario are urgently needed. Your donation to OFT will support the future of our food sources and our agricultural communities across Ontario.”

-Mark Reusser

Farmer, VP of the Waterloo Federation of Agriculture, and Director with Ontario Farmland Trust