Dear reader,

We hope you are enjoying this spring weather that we have been treated with here in southwestern Ontario. As many of you know, I am both personally and professionally passionate about supporting sustainable agriculture and environmental conservation here in the province we are lucky to call home. As such, I am thrilled to share with you that the Ontario Farmland Trust (OFT) is embarking on an ambitious journey to protect and preserve Ontario’s farmlands for the benefit of current and future generations. I invite you to join us in this crucial endeavor.

Our beautiful province is home to some of the most fertile farmland in Canada. However, the pressures of urbanization, development, and climate change pose significant threats to this precious resource.

The rate of farmland loss in Ontario has nearly doubled since 2016. This means that every day, hundreds of acres of farmland are lost to sprawling infrastructure and industrial expansion, jeopardizing our local food security and environmental sustainability. As Ontario’s only agricultural land trust, OFT is uniquely positioned to address these challenges and implement innovative solutions.

At the Ontario Farmland Trust, we are dedicated to protecting and preserving the farmland that sustains Ontario. Through strategic land conservation efforts, advocacy, and education, we work tirelessly to safeguard Ontario’s agricultural landscapes for future generations.

Currently, our team is hard at work protecting eight different properties (totalling just under 1,200 acres) across Ontario with Conservation Easement Agreements:

  • four in Prince Edward County
  • one in Frontenac County
  • one in Lennox-Addington County
  • one in Simcoe County
  • one in Grey County

This is a record number of concurrent easement projects for OFT! But while it is a lot, more needs to be done to slow the loss of farmland happening across our province.

OFT started this year off by completing the Hazell property’s conservation easement. Following this, we received our first ever donation of land, located in Bruce County, which will allow us to expand our initiatives to support farmers and food producers. Plus as of the writing of this letter, another easement agreement was signed, this one in the Region of Durham.

As the awareness on the part of many farming communities of the need to share our mission with their constituents continues to grow, we are planning to meet these needs by presenting at more community events than ever before. Already this year, we have attended 14 community events, engaging 474 people with our mission, and have been requested to participate in many more!

But we can’t do all of this alone. We need your support to continue our important work.

Your donation to OFT will help us protect these eight properties of threatened farmland over the next year, ensuring that they remain in agricultural use forever. From private and public foundations and government funding programs, we are proud to share that we are well on our way to raising the funds needed to protect these lands. The remaining gap is $87,000 or 20% of our target. Your support can get us there!

The OFT team is so informative and motivating. I’m positive that protecting the farm with OFT is the right thing to do. I envision the farm as a “field of dreams”. It will always produce food and act as a diverse area for pollinators and wildlife.”

– Landowner

Prince Edward County

Your contribution will also help our message reach community members living near threatened farmland who are eager to learn about farmland preservation through our educational programs, workshops, and outreach initiatives. A donation, no matter the size, will make a tangible difference in our ability to safeguard Ontario’s farmland for generations to come, and for that, we are immensely grateful.

Our vision for the future of OFT involves protecting more farmland than ever before, and launching new ways to preserve it for future generations. With our current momentum, we are planning to add 40 new properties to our portfolio (or 10,000 acres) by 2029!

A part of our strategy is to explore the development of Land Access models for OFT to be ‘land donation-ready’. The intent is to launch a program to offer alternative and affordable pathways for new and young farmers to access land and become the next generation of farmers, food providers and local economy builders in Ontario.

We are also planning to explore the fairly novel agricultural land preserve model. The concept of an agricultural land preserve envisions large contiguous blocks of protected and preserved land, with the purpose being to maintain a critical mass of farms and agricultural land. It would open up amazing new opportunities if we could develop a methodology for creating a version of an agricultural land preserve using OFT’s farmland conservation easement tool.

Your support is crucial in achieving these goals and securing the future of Ontario’s farmlands. Consider making a donation today. Help expand our reach by spreading awareness amongst your network. If you have time, we offer many volunteer opportunities to implement your valuable skills and knowledge. Click this link to donate. Your generosity will directly support our efforts to protect Ontario’s farmland and promote a sustainable future for all.

Together, we can make a difference and ensure that Ontario’s farmlands remain productive, sustainable, and accessible for generations to come. Your support is not just an investment in farmland; it’s an investment in the future of our communities, environment, and economy.

Thank you for standing with us in our mission to preserve Ontario’s agricultural legacy.

Sincerely,

Martin Straathof
Executive Director