KINGSTON – Wednesday November 30 to Friday December 2, ecological farmers and supporters will gather in Kingston around the theme of how to build resilient and sustainable farms in the face of climate change and other challenges. The 3rd Annual Ecological Farmers of Ontario Conference will, once again, bring together more than 250 people over three days for practical farmer training, issue-awareness, networking and collaboration.
The program features over 30 sessions designed to offer farmers useful information and skills-development to increase the viability, resilience and sustainability of farm businesses in Ontario. Topics include farm-scale composting, grass-fed lamb production, low-till vegetables and field crops, wash station design, mob grazing and local food infrastructure. The roster of speakers is diverse, including growers from across Ontario and from farther afield, including Quebec farmer and author Jean-Martin Fortier, biodynamic compost expert from New York Bruno Fallodor, and executive Director of the Rodale Insitute, Jeff Moyer.
A number of sessions at the conference provide practical tools for farmers to increase the health of their soils, through strategies such as reducing tillage and incorporating cover crops. If we don’t improve the health of our agriculture soils, we are jeopardizing the long term productivity and viability of Ontario farms and our ability to mitigate and cope with the unpredictability of climate change induced droughts and other extreme weather events. Farmers will be reflecting on the 2016 season and supporting one another to find solutions to both mitigate and work with the realities of climate change.
Another key issue will be addressed at one of the conference keynote presentations: “Thinking Beyond the Farm: Decolonizing our relationship to the land, food and people”. Paula Anderson, Peterborough-area farmer and professor with Trent University’s Indigenous Environmental Studies Program, discusses the history of placing farming systems over top of vibrant and resilient food systems that the First Peoples have cultivated and lived in relationship with for millennia. Sharing her own farming story and relationship to the land, Paula will explore questions around what we have to learn from the First People about how to live in relationship to the land, food and people.
“This event brings farmers together to navigate tough questions and issues. Not only is it practical and cutting-edge farmer training, it also provides unique opportunities for community building and examination of issues facing the ecological agricultural movement across Ontario. These farmers encounter the effects of climate change every day, and are constantly engaged with the development of creative mitigation strategies to work towards a sustainable future. These strategies not only include practical soil and ecosystem stewardship techniques, but also dialogue around policy issues such as land access, environmental protection, food sovereignty, and workers’ rights. These are ground-building activists, working toward a better future for all.” – Angie Koch, Board President , Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario