2024 Farmland Forum

The 2024 Farmland Forum, The Future of Ontario Farmland, celebrated 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. As we confront the realities of farmland loss, the forum delved 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 took 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. Discussions not only focused 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 aimed to foster collaborative strategies involving the province, municipalities, the agricultural sector, and land trusts such as the Ontario Farmland Trust. It was 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.


Welcome & Opening Remarks

  • Martin Straathof, Executive Director, Ontario Farmland Trust
  • Mayor Shawn Watters, Mayor of Township of Centre Wellington

Keynote: Indigenous Land Trusts & Conservation

  • Becky Big Canoe, Chair & Co-Founder, Mno Aki Land Trust

Panel: Farmland Protection & Environmental Policy: Planning for the Future

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


  • Melana Roberts, Community Advocate & Food Policy Strategist


  • Students, Rural Planning and Development Course, University of Guelph

Panel: Who Will Farm it? Supporting Farm & Foodland Access in Ontario 

  • Rav Singh, Farmer, Shade of Miti
  • Don Hargrave, Chairman, Grey Dufferin Community Pasture
  • Scott Taylor, Director of Planning, County of Grey
  • Ayla Fenton, Agriculture Systems Manager, Loving Spoonful
  • Moderator: Briana Vanular, Land Access Access & Young Farmer Support Coordinator, National Farmers Union – Ontario

Keynote: Farming for Everyone

  • Richie Bloomfield, Huron University; Urban Roots London

Wrap Up & Concluding Remarks 

  • Margaret Walton, Chair, Ontario Farmland Trust 

Thank you to our 2024 Farmland Forum Sponsors