A vision for the Ontario Farmland Trust (OFT) first emerged at a forum hosted by the University of Guelph’s Farmland Preservation Research Project in 2002.
Here, farmers, land conservationists, planners, and academics worked together to lay the foundation for OFT – an organization with the unique ability to support grassroots, farmer-led and community-driven action on farmland protection.
In 2004, OFT was incorporated as Canada’s first province-wide agricultural land trust. Building on its university connections, OFT collaborated with researchers to publish a book titled Farmland Preservation: Land for Future Generations. OFT went on to develop new resources as part of a ‘Places to Grow Food’ campaign that supported comprehensive planning for farmland, agriculture, and regional food systems.
In 2005, OFT was instrumental in having the Conservation Land Act amended to enable agricultural conservation easements in Ontario. This opened doors for OFT to work on-the-ground with farmers and communities in tangible ways to help them protect farmland and natural features of the countryside with Farmland Easement Agreements.
Since then, OFT has protected over 1600 acres of farmland on 17 farms. In addition to providing fresh, local food, these farms provide habitat to 15 provincially listed species at risk. OFT also regularly provides input on provincial land use planning policy to strengthen protections for farmland in Ontario, and has contributed to over 30 policy reform discussions. To help advance farmland protection through land-use planning policy, OFT also holds an annual Farmland Forum that brings together planners, farmers, researchers, policy makers, politicians, and conservationists to discuss new opportunities for farmland protection. OFT has also partnered with a number of organizations to provide resources to farmers and the public on a number of issues relating to farmland protection. Today, OFT is working with multiple farmers across the province to permanently protect their farms through Farmland Easement Agreements.
Ontario Land Trust Alliance’s (OLTA) “Award for Excellence” in 2020
OFT is excited to announce that we are the chosen recipients for the Ontario Land Trust Alliance’s (OLTA) “Award for Excellence” in 2020! Every year, OLTA chooses a land trust in Ontario who is “raising the bar for excellence in conservation or community engagement”. This year, OFT was honoured to be chosen as that land trust.
“Excellence in Agriculture, Honourable Mention Award” in 2019
The Excellence in Agriculture Awards honour the contributions of hard-working and innovative people across the province who are creating new agri-food products, adding value to existing products and raising the bar for excellence by demonstrating leadership in their field that will benefit the sector, or advanced technological innovation.
OFT was honoured with a cheque for $5000 as the Junior Farmer’s Association of Ontario’s Provincial Charity for 2013/2014
JFAO is an organization and network of young farm leaders across Ontario whose mission is to foster future rural leaders through self-help and community improvement. This particular award recognizes OFT’s vital contribution to the promotion of agriculture and protection of farmland for generations to come.