Non-Agricultural Uses in Prime Agricultural Areas

OMAFRA’s new “Draft Guidelines on Permitted Uses in Ontario’s Prime Agricultural Areas” for input

Please note that the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) has posted on its website Draft Guidelines on Permitted Uses in Ontario’s Prime Agricultural Areas for review and input. 

The Guidelines are intended to help municipalities, decision-makers, farmers and others interpret the policies in the 2014 Provincial Policy Statement on the range of uses permitted in prime agricultural areas.  

To submit your thoughts and ideas, you can fill out the questionnaire posted on OMAFRA’s website or send an email or letter.  We are inviting comments until May 13, 2015

Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Mailing Address:

Draft Guidelines on Permitted Uses

Food Safety and Environmental Policy Branch

Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

1 Stone Rd. West, 3rd Floor

Guelph, ON N1G 4Y2

The Dirt on the Year of the Soil

In a few months, Ontario’s rich agricultural soil will start feeding us once again. The fields and orchards will emerge from another winter, ready to produce a bounty of fresh local vegetables, grains and fruit.

The 2015 growing and harvest seasons will be especially significant because they will take place during the International Year of Soils. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has declared that over the next 12 months every country should be paying more attention to the soil that grows our food, filters our water, stores vast amounts of carbon and keeps us alive.

The Year of Soils is an opportunity for us to stop treating this vital resource like dirt. We can start here in Ontario, home to the best soil and climate conditions in Canada. This vast country is comprised of just 0.5 percent of Class 1 soil, the rarest in the world. Just over half of Canada’s Class 1 farmland is found in Ontario. Lucky us. Yet, we’ve destroyed nearly 20 percent of it.

We continue to pave it over for urban sprawl or mine it for aggregate, ignoring the fact that once this soil is gone, it’s gone forever.

Soils don’t have a voice and few people speak out for them.

Read more at: The Big Carrot

Farmland Going Public?

Ottawa based company cites potential for value of property it invests in to grow by four to five per cent annually over long term


A new company, counting on global trends that point towards increased demand for food, has announced intentions to sell public shares in Canadian farmland.

Bonnefield Canadian Farmland Corporation, based in Ottawa, announced Thursday that it plans to sell common shares in a scheme that will either buy farmland outright or, in jurisdictions like Manitoba and Saskatchewan that restrict public ownership of farmland, provide interest-only mortgages.

Investors would obtain “a liquid investment in primarily Canadian farmland, with the potential for long-term capital appreciation and dividend income,” the company’s preliminary prospectus says. The prospectus is filed with security regulatory authorities in all Canadian provinces and territories for review.


2015 - The Year of Soils


The timing could not be better! The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) will spend the next year focusing on the world's soils. We treat this vital resource like dirt, but it feeds us, filters our water, stores carbon and is home to one-quarter of the world's biodiversity. The rare soils of Ontario deserve special protection for all of the above reasons. The UN's International Year of Soils will add further momentum to our movement!Watch the FAO's terrific short video launching its 2015 campaign.

Video: International Year of Soils

sequester carbon


The United Nations also has an informative website about the International Year of Soils. Take a look!

 UN website: Healthy Soils for a Healthy Life


What does the soil say?


 "Soils don't have a voice, and few people speak out for them. They are our silent ally in food production." Jose Graziano da Silva, FAO Director-General.

However, the group Conservation International turned to Hollywood to give voice to the soil.

Watch this powerful and chilling video:Edward Norton: I Am the Soil 


By: The Food & Water First Team

December Message From the Chair


Food & Water First is the legacy of the Stop the Mega Quarry campaign that began in Dufferin County northwest of Toronto in 2006.  The Highland Companies – a front company for a $27-billion Boston hedge fund – bought 6,500-acres of Class 1 farmland and stated it wanted to become the largest potato producer in Ontario. But in 2011, it filed an application for the largest quarry in Canadian history on the best soil in the province and at the headwaters of five river systems. The Mega Quarry would have spanned 2,300-acres and plunged 200-feet below the water table.  It would have destroyed rare food-producing land and impacted water resources for up to one million people downstream.

Farmers, chefs, First Nations, city-dwellers, environmentalists and artists formed a remarkable alliance. Culinary protests were held to raise awareness about the vital farmland and water resources at risk. Foodstock in Dufferin County 2011 (28,000 people), Soupstock in Toronto 2012 (40,000 people).  In November 2012, one month after Soupstock, Highland withdrew its mega quarry application. Then, in July 2013, a Canadian investment firm, Bonnefield Financial, purchased all 6,500-acres from Highland. It has leased the land to local farmers ensuring the fields remain in food production.

However, the campaign for farmland and water protection continues. The Mega Quarry fight exposed many flaws in current land-use policies. Ontario’s prime farmland and source water regions remain vulnerable to sprawl and aggregate operations even though they’re critical to our food security and Ontario’s $34-billion agri-food sector, the largest in Canada. We believe our prime farmland and water should be protected in perpetuity, not threatened or squandered in perpetuity. We believe it’s time to put Food & Water First.

For more information and to take the Food & Water First PLEDGE, visit

Shirley Boxem, NDACT Chair