“Places to Grow Food” was the theme of the 2007 Farmland Preservation Conference, held in April at the University of Guelph in Guelph, Ontario.

The Provincial Places to Grow legislation will shape future urban growth in the greater golden horseshoe but the associated decisions will also have a big impact on farming. The projected urban population increase of four million new people in Ontario over the next thirty years has implications both for farm viability and our growing local food system and for the preservation of southern Ontario’s very unique and valuable farmlands.

This conference explored the challenges and opportunities related to three particular issues critical to the future preservation of farming in southern Ontario:

  1. Local food marketing initiatives – urbanites are increasingly looking for the opportunity to purchase ‘local food’ and reduce ‘food miles’, while farmers are looking at local food production as one route to economic viability.
  2. Innovative new directions in land use planning for agriculture – there are specific programs and policies that can be initiated or improved at the municipal level and elsewhere that go beyond farmland preservation to support farm viability.
  3. Support for immigrant and young farmers entering the industry – both New Canadians and many young people wish to try farming, at least on a small, near-urban scale and children of the next generation are hoping to take over family farms, but costs make it almost impossible – how can we support them?