Food & Water First – Saving our Agricultural Lands

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It is such a gift to be part of local networking groups which expose me to incredible people. Yesterday’s BWNA joint meeting held at Pathways to Perennials in King Township was no exception. We were fortunate to have a dynamic and passionate speaker, Donna Tranquada representing Food & Water First to share with us her personal journey over the past 3 years about saving our agricultural lands.

Donna lives and works in downtown Toronto however she and her husband own a farm property in Melancthon Township just west of Mulmur Township in Dufferin County. For those of you familiar with the area, you will know a great grass roots movement took place to stop the development of a mega quarry in this prime agricultural and precious water landmass. Thousands of citizens came together to uncover the truth of what was planned for the area and organized their efforts to educate Ontarians including the politicians on what repercussions would result for the invaluable water and food supply of the area. The process was a success and the mega quarry has been halted for now.

What developed from there was a public organization called the North Dufferin Agricultural and Community Taskforce set up to protect this area from future negative environmental development.  From that was born the current umbrella organization called Food & Water First.

The prime mission of this group is:

Food & Water First is a movement dedicated to protecting Ontario’s Class 1 farmland and source water regions. We are rural and urban citizens who understand that our province’s rare agricultural soils and water resources provide us with a great bounty that must be preserved. We encourage the Ontario government to adopt a Food & Water First policy so our vital agricultural sector and source water regions are given priority in land-use planning.

In a note from the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, Mark Reusser wrote: “Only 5% of Ontario’s land base is suitable for agriculture. And since we have no way to make more soil, we need to hold on to all the productive land and soil we have.

As farmers, we know the importance of using our land for the greatest potential – with technology and conservation tillage practices to deliver the highest yields with the lowest impact. We take our responsibility seriously to provide safe and healthy food for those in our community and beyond. And if the supply of available, productive agricultural land continues to dwindle, everyone will suffer.

Every day, prime agricultural land is lost to non-agricultural uses like housing and commercial developments and aggregate extraction. Statistics Canada reports illustrate this very clearly. In the five-year period between 2006 and 2011, nearly 260,000 hectares of farmland was lost. Whatever the reason, Ontario cannot sustain this level of land loss and continue producing enough food, fibre and fuel.”

I consider myself to be pretty aware of the importance of farmland and clean water supply, however I had no idea that the percentage of Ontario land suitable for agriculture was as low as 5%. Donna’s talk really moved me and I left the meeting loaded with Food & Water First postcards, business cards and a lawn sign to bring attention to the need for all of us to speak up and protect our future. I went to the website and Pledged to be a good steward and I encourage you to do the same. Here are the links to a couple of great videos produced that share this important message too:

And I chose to share this with you today. Let’s use our creative minds to continue the work of this group and many others who know the importance of taking care of our soil and water. They sustain us every day. Let’s celebrate what we have and keep it flourishing. Please share your ideas here for others.

You can leave a comment right here on the site, connect with me via email or telephone or click the contact tab at the bottom of the screen if you are reading this post on the website.

Until next time,


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4 replies
  1. Fervil says:

    I strongly agree how food and water plays a big role in the society, of course without this we’ll probably die. This campaign speaks a lot of ideas and it also elaborate the importance of the said subjects. I couldn’t agree more how farmers take their responsibility seriously to produce a quality and healthy foods. Great work Karen!

    • Karen Armstrong says:

      Thanks for taking time to read and comment on this post. I am filled with joy when I travel across the back roads and see these Food & Water First signs on peoples properties. I realize how many of us do care and are paying attention. Let’s make our food dollars count. To our health!


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