Farmland preservation is a key component in keeping a strong and vigorous agricultural sector. And with Ontario having one of the biggest agriculture and food clusters in North America, it only makes sense that our citizens be proactive in ensuring that we do our best to preserve and maintain our best farmland.
The Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario has a long history of advocating for farmland preservation. We’ve taken up the fight to keep our best farmland in a number of battles, including power line developments, highway proposals, land use planning sessions and arguments about municipal housing severances. We’ve been at the forefront of those saying that our best farmland needs to be preserved for farming, not held in trust until some other competing use comes along.
With that background in mind, I was pleased to see this summer’s creation of the Ontario Farmland Stewardship Fund. It has been put together by the Ontario Farmland Trust in partnership with the Stratford and Perth County Community Foundation. It’s part of a larger campaign called “Care for the Land you Love” and is working to raise awareness and funds to maintain the lands under land trust care in the province.
The campaign allows financial donors to double the impact of their gifts as every dollar contributed by the end of 2011 will be matched up to a total of $20,000, thanks to the participation of the Ontario Land Trust Alliance and Community Foundations of Canada. The earnings from the funds will be used every year to help conduct annual monitoring, property and building maintenance, maintain regular contact with landowners and undertake environmental enhancement programs.
The Ontario Farmland Trust was established in 2004, and seeks to protect and preserve farmland and associated agricultural, natural and cultural features of the countryside. It protects farmland by working directly with landowners who want to permanently protect their farm properties for farming. This includes accepting donations of farmlands and farmland conservation easements. Easements allow landowners to continue owning and using their properties while placing some non-farm development restrictions on the land.
If you are interested in learning more about the Ontario Farmland Trust, visit www.ontariofarmlandtrust.ca. And please take the time to consider whether you’re interested in investigating a conservation easement for your property, or making a donation to the trust fund. Every bit helps in preserving an important resource for farming.