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2024 Ecological Day Presentations
Updates for the 2025 program will be made in the fall of 2024.
Why improving farm worker conditions in a win for agriculture

Description coming soon!

Presented by: David Thompson

Biography coming soon!

Presented by: Hannah Kaya

Biography coming soon!

Presentation begins Monday January 8th, 2024 at 10:00 am.
Land Access and Linking
Presented by: Amy Stein

Sharing a farm property involves complex and nuanced considerations, both financial and non-financial, for which few templates or successful long-term examples exist (yet!). In 2020, Amy created a farm co-ownership model under which several co-owned ecological farms are now up and running, in and near Grey County. All of these farms are covered by conservation easements, for land protection and greater affordability. During the last four years, Amy has engaged in countless conversations about co-ownership and other land-sharing options with land seekers, land owners and many other people with relevant expertise. She will share her story about challenges overcome, practical knowledge gained and her conviction, stronger than ever, that sharing land is a key part of co-creating a more beautiful world. If you are a farm owner with possible interest in land sharing, Amy understands barriers you may perceive. She will describe equitable arrangements that can provide long-term benefits for everyone by addressing key elements: housing, an agreement with long-term potential but also fair exit provisions, clarity on rights and restrictions, and a fair return on investment.

Amy lives on a permaculture homestead in Grey County. During her past career in capital markets and financial management, Amy’s professional focus evolved from large corporations to smaller, innovative and mission-oriented enterprises. She has expertise in building financial frameworks for unconventional and complex endeavours, including Evergreen Brick Works in Toronto. In recent years, Amy created a farm co-ownership model to protect more farmland under the stewardship of ecological farmers, while offering them affordable long-term access to land with a home and the opportunity to build equity. Her education includes an MBA from The Wharton School in finance and accounting, as well as degrees in economics and environmental studies from University of Toronto.

Presentation begins Monday January 8th, 2024 at 11:05 am.
Panel & Discussion: Land prices, access & Linking

Description coming soon!

Panelist: Amy Stein

Amy lives on a permaculture homestead in Grey County. During her past career in capital markets and financial management, Amy’s professional focus evolved from large corporations to smaller, innovative and mission-oriented enterprises. She has expertise in building financial frameworks for unconventional and complex endeavours, including Evergreen Brick Works in Toronto. In recent years, Amy created a farm co-ownership model to protect more farmland under the stewardship of ecological farmers, while offering them affordable long-term access to land with a home and the opportunity to build equity. Her education includes an MBA from The Wharton School in finance and accounting, as well as degrees in economics and environmental studies from University of Toronto.

Panelist: Andrew Alford & Cassondra Dillman, Owners, Harvest Moon Farm

Andrew & Cassondra own a market garden outside Meaford ON focused on providing fresh, organic vegetables and education to their community.

Panelist: Sara Epp, Assistant Professor, University of Guelph

Sara Epp is an Assistant Professor of Rural Planning and Development at the University of Guelph. She received her BA and MA in Geography from Brock University and completed her PhD in Rural Studies at the University of Guelph. Sara has worked extensively with rural communities in southern and northern Ontario, examining issues related to farmland loss, agricultural viability, land use conflicts and social aspects of rural life. Sara has previously worked in municipal land use planning and as a private consultant for a variety of rural and agricultural planning projects. Her current research interests are related to rural land use planning for agri-food systems, migration, and food security.

Panelist: Scott Taylor, Director of Planning, Grey County

Scott Taylor is the Director of Planning with Grey County, where he has worked for the past 18 years. Scott was raised in rural Ontario on family livestock farms, but now lives in Owen Sound.

Facilitator: Heather Newman, NFU-O Field Coordinator for Grey Bruce, Owner of D&H Newman Farm and Co-owner of Two Birds One Stone Foods 

Heather was raised on a farm in Ripley ON. She studied science at the University of Waterloo. Heather now runs a farm and food business while raising her own family in Ripley ON. She is actively involved in her community and is passionate about farming and agricultural community issues.

Presentation begins Monday January 8th, 2024 at 1:15 pm.
Updates on Living Labs Research 

Each producer will give an update on Living Labs projects run on their farm in the past year: Ken Laing: In this presentation we will look at the no-till strategies and equipment for squash, garlic and potatoes. Brett Israel: Info coming soon Woody Van Arkel: Info coming soon.

Panelist: Ken Laing, Co-owner/Operator, Orchard Hill Farm

Ken and his wife Martha have been farming near St. Thomas Ontario for 44 years. Although now semi-retired, they have grown a wide range of field, fruit and vegetable crops.

Panelist: Brett Israel

Brett Israel is part of a multi generation certified organic family farm. Located in Wellington County, the Israel’s farm 3Gen Organics is comprised of 1150ac of crop land and a 180 sow farrow to finish hog operation. Brett and his family began their transition to organic production in 2015 and have not looked back since. Cover crops play an essential role in their farm system, and Brett looks forward to sharing results from their living labs projects with rye-based beans and alfalfa-fueled corn.

Panelist: Laurent (Woody) Van Arkel, Van Arkel Farms Ltd.

Laurent (Woody) Van Arkel has been farming near Dresden for 30 years after taking over the family farm from Laurent’s parents. He has grown a variety of crops typical of the Dresden area including corn, soy beans, wheat, and sugar beets. Interested in expanding their crop rotation, they grew their first crop of sunflowers in 2020. His interest in soil sustainability has led to their use of and experimentation with cover crops and reduced tillage, along with partnerships with the University of Guelph, OMAFRA, and Ag Canada. It also led Laurent to co-found the Ontario Soil Network (OSN) and is now chair of its board of directors. Laurent was the past director and past president of the Innovative Farmers Association of Ontario (IFAO), and is a farmer representative of the Mid-West Covercrop Council (MCCC).

Facilitator: Andrew Barrie, Environmental Specialist, OMAFRA

Andrew Barrie is an Environmental Specialist with OMAFRA (Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs) based in Walkerton. Andrew maintains his CCA designation (Certified Crop Advisor) and is a Past Chair of the provincial Soil Team. He has worked with OMAFRA for 26 years in positions including Soil & Crop Advisor, Rural Water Quality Program Coordinator and Nutrient Management Specialist. Andrew grew up on a Beef Feedlot farm in Waterloo County and for 12 years operated a seasonal Fruit and Vegetable farm near Hanover (Grey County) with value-added products sold across Ontario. Andrew and his wife Jennifer reside in Kincardine with their 3 children also living in the area.

This presentation is CEU accredited under the Crop Management category.
This presentation is an OSCIA recognized Knowledge Sharing Event (KSE) for Ontario On-Farm Climate Action Fund (OFCAF) applicants. 
Presentation begins Monday January 8th, 2024 at 2:35 pm.
Panel & Discussion: Living Labs research, drilling down

This session will dig deeper into the living labs projects, with discussion from the audience guiding the presentation.

Panelist: Ken Laing

Ken and his wife Martha have been farming near St. Thomas Ontario for 44 years. Although now semi-retired, they have grown a wide range of field, fruit and vegetable crops.

Panelist: Brett Israel

Brett Israel is part of a multi generation certified organic family farm. Located in Wellington County, the Israel’s farm 3Gen Organics is comprised of 1150ac of crop land and a 180 sow farrow to finish hog operation. Brett and his family began their transition to organic production in 2015 and have not looked back since. Cover crops play an essential role in their farm system, and Brett looks forward to sharing results from their living labs projects with rye-based beans and alfalfa-fueled corn.

Panelist: Laurent (Woody) Van Arkel, Van Arkel Farms Ltd. 

Laurent (Woody) Van Arkel has been farming near Dresden for 30 years after taking over the family farm from Laurent’s parents. He has grown a variety of crops typical of the Dresden area including corn, soy beans, wheat, and sugar beets. Interested in expanding their crop rotation, they grew their first crop of sunflowers in 2020. His interest in soil sustainability has led to their use of and experimentation with cover crops and reduced tillage, along with partnerships with the University of Guelph, OMAFRA, and Ag Canada. It also led Laurent to co-found the Ontario Soil Network (OSN) and is now chair of its board of directors. Laurent was the past director and past president of the Innovative Farmers Association of Ontario (IFAO), and is a farmer representative of the Mid-West Covercrop Council (MCCC).

Facilitator: Andrew Barrie, Environmental Specialist, OMAFRA

Andrew Barrie is an Environmental Specialist with OMAFRA (Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs) based in Walkerton. Andrew maintains his CCA designation (Certified Crop Advisor) and is a Past Chair of the provincial Soil Team. He has worked with OMAFRA for 26 years in positions including Soil & Crop Advisor, Rural Water Quality Program Coordinator and Nutrient Management Specialist. Andrew grew up on a Beef Feedlot farm in Waterloo County and for 12 years operated a seasonal Fruit and Vegetable farm near Hanover (Grey County) with value-added products sold across Ontario. Andrew and his wife Jennifer reside in Kincardine with their 3 children also living in the area.

This presentation is CEU accredited under the Crop Management category.
Presentation begins Monday January 8th, 2024 at 3:35 pm.
And don't forget to take a look at the list of On-Demand presentations which you can watch throughout the conference and for the thirty days following! Use the button on the left to browse full details for those!
Check out the program for other conference days using the buttons below.
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