2024 Farmland Forum: The Future of Ontario Farmland

Thursday, March 21, 2024
Join us in Elora, ON and online

Registration is now open
Early bird prices available until March 1st


General Information

The 2024 Farmland Forum, The Future of Ontario Farmland, celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Ontario Farmland Trust with a return to the foundational dialogues and round-table discussions that sparked the creation of OFT. This year’s forum is a pivotal gathering for exploring innovative solutions to the pressing challenges of farmland preservation in Ontario. As we confront the realities of farmland loss, the forum will delve into necessary policy reforms and strategic approaches to protect our agricultural lands.

In recognizing that protecting farmland is only part of the equation, the forum takes a holistic view by addressing the importance of policy for farmland preservation, the lack of succession planning for Ontario’s food system as a whole, and how municipalities and organizations can support land access for new and young farmers. This year’s discussions will not only focus on farmland protection but also on breaking down barriers to ensure a vibrant and sustainable future for agriculture in Ontario.

Through this comprehensive approach, the forum aims to foster collaborative strategies involving the province, municipalities, the agricultural sector, and land trusts such as the Ontario Farmland Trust. It’s an opportunity to forge a path forward that not only preserves our farmland but also nurtures the next generation of farmers, ensuring the longevity and prosperity of Ontario’s agri-food sector.

Location
The GrandWay Event Centre
7445 Wellington County Rd 21
Elora, ON

and online!

Click through the tabs above to read the current schedule and more information on the day.

Registration

In Person Attendance

Early Bird (available until March 1st)Regular Price
General$140$160
Farmer$110$125
Student*$60$75
In person attendance includes morning refreshments, lunch and beverages throughout the day.
*See supported registrations below.

Online Attendance

Price
General$50
Student$25
Online attendees this year will have the opportunity for small group break out rooms.

Supported Registrations

The goal of the supported registrations option is to support new, young, aspiring and equity deserving farmers, planners and conservationists in attending the forum. OFT will be offering student and pay-what-you-can rates for both the online and in person options.

Send us an email at tamara@ontariofarmlandtrust.ca to use this option.

Schedule

The Farmland Forum is a full day event, from 9am – 5pm. There will be a number of table discussions and breaks throughout the day with concurrent online break-out rooms.


Welcome, Martin Straathof, Executive Director, Ontario Farmland Trust
Opening Remarks, Shawn Watters, Mayor of Township of Centre Wellington


Opening Keynote: Speaker & Title TBD


Morning Panel: Policy, policy, policy!
Provincial policy changes over the last two years have been drastic for the agricultural and conservation sectors. This panel will review the implications those policies will have for the future of food systems and conservation in Ontario, and how we can encourage policy that centres farmland and environmental protection. 

Speakers:

  • Phil Pothen, Program Manager, Land Use & Ontario Environment & Counsel, Environmental Defence
  • Deborah Martin-Downs, past Credit Valley Conservation CAO & past Greenbelt Council Member
  • Drew Spoelstra, Farmer and President, Ontario Federation of Agriculture
  • Moderator: Dr. Bronwynne Wilton, Principal at Wilton Consulting and Councillor for Township of Centre Wellington

Lunch & Networking: Online break-out rooms will be available


Plenary: Melana Roberts, Title TBD


Afternoon Panel: Who Will Farm It? Supporting Farm & Foodland Access In Ontario
Farmlands need farmers; the next generation of new, young and equity-deserving farmers are facing new challenges for farmland access. What policies and programs can be enacted to ensure we have pathways and succession for the next generation of farmers? This panel will specifically look at opportunities for municipalities, conservation authorities, land trusts and other non-profits to support land access through policy & programming.

Speakers:

  • Rav Singh, Farmer at Shade of Miti as well as Youth Advisor to the Board, National Farmers Union Ontario
  • Don Hargrave, Farmer and Chairman, Grey Dufferin Community Pasture as well as Director, Beef Farmers of Ontario
  • Ayla Fenton, Food Systems Manager, Loving Spoonful
  • Scott Taylor, Director of Planning, County of Grey
  • Moderator: Briana Vanular, Farmer and Land Access and Young Farmer Support Coordinator, National Farmers Union – Ontario

Closing Keynote: Richie Bloomfield, Title TBD


Final Reflections: Martin Straathof, Executive Director, Ontario Farmland Trust
Closing Remarks: Margaret Walton, Chair of the Board of Directors, Ontario Farmland Trust


Accessibility Information

In person: The forum will be taking place at the GrandWay Events Centre in Elora, ON. The Centre has a non-gendered, wheelchair accessible bathroom, as well as marked parking spots out front for those in a wheelchair. We will have masks available for attendees, but will not require them. If you need a quiet break during the day, there are comfortable couches in the main lobby. We will have 15 minute breaks every 1.5-2 hours. Attendees will be requested to refrain from wearing strong scents. Carpooling: When attendees register, we are asking if they can drive another attendee. Send an email to tamara@ontariofarmlandtrust.ca if you want to attend in person, but would need a ride; Tamara will reach out when there’s a ride available for you.

Online: Automatic captions through Zoom will be available. We will have 15 minute breaks every 1.5-2 hours.

Slides and speaking notes can be shared in advance as available. Student and pay-what-you-can registration prices are available. Please reach out to tamara@ontariofarmlandtrust.ca for these or for any other accessibility questions or needs!


Thank you to our 2024 Farmland Forum Sponsors!

If you are interested in sponsoring this event, please contact Tamara Brown, Volunteer & Community Engagement Coordinator at tamara@ontariofarmlandtrust.ca.