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New tools for farmers in northern Ont.

New tools for farmers in northern Ont.

The province invested in an ecological ag training program

By Paula Schuck

A recent investment of $93,546 from Queen’s Park is intended to nurture farming in northern Ontario. The Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario (EFAO) will use the funds to help establish a three-year program to train farmers in the region about ecological agriculture.

“Our government recognizes the importance of having skilled producers across this great province,” Ernie Hardeman, Ontario’s minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs, said in an interview.

“Investing in programming to train new, young and existing farmers in ecological farming methods in northern Ontario will further develop the skills of our producers and will create exciting opportunities to expand agricultural opportunities in the north over the long-term.”

The EFAO has a track record in supporting the success of Ontario producers, Hardeman added. 

Allison Muckle, the EFAO’s northern program director, told Farms.com that the funds will be used for farmer-led training, research and community building in northern Ontario. These education sessions will include workshops that feature experts, kitchen-table-style meetings where farmers can gather and share their knowledge and experience, and farm tours to see production techniques in action. The EFAO also is working on webinars so farmers can participate in workshops from home.

In addition, starting in 2020, the EFAO will offer specific training workshops and events geared towards new farmers in northern Ontario. The organization will focus on business planning for farmers starting their operations.  

“In general, we focus on practical training to help farmers improve the health of their soils, crops, livestock and the environment, while at the same time running profitable farm businesses,” said Muckle.

“Our programs are ultimately about farmers sharing their knowledge with other farmers, so our hope is that, over the next three years, we will have helped create a supportive community of thriving ecological farms in northern Ontario. We also hope to have helped more farms in the north implement agricultural practices that protect our resources, increase biodiversity, mitigate climate change, and foster healthy, vibrant communities,” Muckle said.

emholk/iStock/Getty Images Plus photo

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