Martin Straathof: Executive Director

Martin is the Executive Director of the Ontario Farmland Trust. Martin comes from a farming background, and most recently worked in agricultural land planning policy at Halton Region. In addition to his experience with fundraising and relationship management, Martin also has experience with other non-profits. Martin is in the process of finishing his Masters degree in Rural Planning and Development at the University of Guelph. Martin is enthusiastic about using his experiences and expertise to protect Ontario’s farmland!

Melissa Schneider: Communications and Development Manager

Melissa is the Communications and Development Manager for Ontario Farmland Trust. She completed a two-year Print Journalism diploma at Niagara College in Welland. Growing up on her family’s farm in Sparta she has always had a keen interest in agriculture. The more land she sees developed the stronger her passion and desire to protect agricultural land becomes. She is delighted to put her knowledge and skills to work to support the Ontario Farmland Trust team.

Emma Jane Woods: Farmland Ecology Coordinator

Emma Jane is the Farmland Ecology Coordinator at the Ontario Farmland Trust. She completed her Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science (BScH) at Trent University where she also took a special interest in natural biology and ecology. She grew up on a farm in southwestern Ontario and loves all types of agriculture. In this role, she is excited to be able to combine her passion for farming with her love of nature in a way that will help protect farmland. She believes that protecting agricultural lands will be crucial in maintaining the health of both the environment and Ontarians in the future.

Hershil Sheth: Policy and Event Planning Coordinator

Hershil Sheth is the Policy and Event Planning Coordinator at the Ontario Farmland Trust. She is a recent graduate from York University’s Environmental and Urban Change program where she specialized in Environmental Management. Born and raised in Ontario, her father used to own a flour mill in Southampton and recently she has sought out her own interest in cut flower farming and vegetable gardening. In this role, she hopes to help create awareness behind the importance of sustaining local agricultural systems and inspire future generations to start their own farming endeavours. She believes the only way to achieve food security is to live harmoniously with the environment and that starts with protecting our farmland.

Brittany Zeus: Farmland Ecology Assistant

Brittany Zeus is a student who will be filling the role of Farmland Ecology Assistant this summer! Brittany is studying to be a Fish and Wildlife Technician at Fleming College, and she has a passion for protecting wildlife populations by reducing habitat fragmentation. Growing up in Peterborough, she has been able to see the direct impacts of increasing populations and the need for protecting vast landscapes from urban development. She is an avid gardener, plant and animal lover who cannot wait to begin making an impact that will last for generations to come. Brittany has pursued this education path to create a better future because good things really do grow in Ontario!

Photo of Staff (2022) (left to right): Emma Jane Woods, Melissa Schneider, Martin Straathof, and Hershil Sheth.