Presenter: Mark Shepard, Farmer at New Forest Farm
Ecosystems provide essential services to society, from crop pollination and pollution mitigation to climate and water regulation. By initiating natural patterns and processes, ecological restoration has the ability to restore degraded ecosystems while being economically profitable. This can be accomplished by developing productive agroforestry systems that are patterned after natural plant communities. In this keynote address, Mark Shepard will share his story from living in the Alaskan wilderness for 10 years to developing his family’s 106-acre perennial agricultural ecosystem. Mark has been farming in nature’s image for over 20 years and now he will be joining us in Cornwall to share his insights and development approach to restoration agriculture. There will be 15 minutes of Q&A following the presentation.
Mark Shepard is an agroforestry farmer in the Driftless region of Wisconsin who developed his family’s 106-acre farm, New Forest Farm, into an ecologically diverse system using the oak savannah, successional brushland, and Eastern woodlands as the ecological models. Their farm utilizes NRCS best practices such as contour farming, grassy waterways, and terracing to optimize the management of the soil and water on the farm. In all, they have planted 100,000 trees on this property featuring chestnuts, hazelnuts, fruit trees, pigs, chickens, cattle and a variety of other fruits and vegetables. Mark serves on the board of The Stewardship Network and the Southwest Badger Resource Conservation and Development Council. He is the author of “Restoration Agriculture: Real-world Permaculture for Farmers” (ACRES USA), the founder of the global landscape restoration company (Restoration Agriculture Development), founder of the agroforestry tree nursery (Forest Agriculture Enterprises), and a farmer member with the Organic Valley Cooperative.
Presenter: Mark Shepard
Mark Shepard will be facilitating this workshop to address the water challenges and water management strategies that are applicable to the local challenges.
Video: Water management install completed on a 200-acre farm in Virginia, https://www.youtube.
The session on water management is set to build upon the keynote address by Mark Shepard on Restoration Agriculture. Since water is of such critical importance for plant life and growth, the very first step for a restoration agriculture farmer, no matter where the farm is located, is to optimize the land’s relationship with water. The landforms all around us are a reflection of the land’s relationship with water and gravity over the eons of time. In this talk, Mark will discuss the reasons why we need to manage the water and some effective tools to do so.
Presenters: Hilary Moore, Titia Posthuma and Kylah Dobson
Moderator: Leela Ramachandran of Bluegrass Farm
In this dynamic panel presentation, 3 farmers will discuss some of the challenges and opportunities for women farmers based on their experiences. Women have always worked on farms, but today the fastest growing demographic of new farmers is women farmers. Questions and contributions from the audience will make this a lively and engaging discussion for all.
Leela Ramachandran – Leela’s career began in environmental education, developing learning resources for university students, environmental NGOs, municipal governments and new farmers. She volunteered for many years in food systems initiatives including community gardens, food policy projects, and food preservation workshops. Wanting to play a more direct role in local sustainable development, Leela and her partner Brad ventured into organic vegetable farming in 2011. After co-founding and managing market gardens in west Quebec, the couple joined Just Food in Ottawa to help establish and manage their Start-Up Farm Program for two years. In 2014, Leela and Brad started Bluegrass Farm near Smiths Falls, building an innovative system of heated greenhouses where they grow greens almost year-round. They currently run a unique 120-member Winter CSA program, and sell their certified organic greens to restaurants and food stores throughout the region.
Hilary Moore – Hilary and her husband Nick run a mixed non-certified organic farm in Lanark, Ontario. Hilary has been farming organically since she graduated from Environmental Studies at Carleton University in 1998, dabbling in designing and implementing schoolyard gardens, also. She ran Teamwork CSA for 13 years, but let it go in 2015 in order to diversify her scope on the farm. Along with vegetables, Nick and Hilary also raise Tamworth pigs and keep bees, using as much heavy horsepower as they can. Hilary has always been quite determined to make her living from the farm, and has been successful thanks to the wonderful community that they live in.
Titia Posthuma – Titia grew up gardening organically from the time she was 6. In 1981, after homesteading in SW Ontario for 5 years, she bought her farm (Ravensfield) in Maberly ON., where she tends to the needs of pigs, goats, chickens and a 1 acre market garden. She has been a vendor at Kingston Public Market since 1989. Her interests in soil processes and bioremediation have lead her to biodynamics and the farm is Demeter certified. Titia loves delving deeply into the theories of plant, soil, animal and human nutrition and how we apply our growing understanding to our work as farmers. She has happily shared whatever knowledge and insight she has gained, offering it through apprenticeships, public speaking, courses and workshops throughout the years.
Presenter: Norm Eygenraam, President of Multi Shelter Solutions, Palmerston, ON
For this workshop, we will cover 3 ways of getting the most of your greenhouse investment with time for Q&A at the end.
1: To get the most out of your greenhouse during all four seasons you need to consider heat efficiency for the winter and cooling for the summer. We will discuss how different plastics affect heat efficiency and the challenges of using solar power to inflate between the layers. For cooling, we will discuss different venting options, mechanical and natural, as well as the impact of vent locations.
2: Moveable structures can allow for getting more than one crop area per structure. Moving a structure can be done on wheels, rollers on tracks and by sliding on a base. We will emphasize the importance of anchoring the structure and address the pros and cons of different options for making a structure moveable. We will also talk about endwall design considerations for moveable structures.
3: Finally, we will look at the option of caterpillar tunnels as temporary structures that can be relocated. We will look at some of their advantages and challenges, the importance of rope tension, land preparation and adaptations for winter use.
Norm has been working with greenhouses and cold frames since working at various nurseries in the 70’s and early 80’s. In the mid 1980’s his focus changed to manufacturing and sales of greenhouses. Multi Shelter Solutions was started by Norm in Palmerston Ontario in 2005. Much of his efforts and contacts with customers today is geared to educating them in the choices and consequences of using these buildings for their growing, housing and storage requirements. Norm is looking forward to sharing some of his knowledge and expertise with you today.
Join a panel of certified organic farmers as they describe their personal experiences of transitioning to organic certification. Why did they transition? How did they do it? What about the 3 year transition period? How is farm production management different now that they have organic certification? What else would you like to know to help you decide whether transitioning to organic is the right thing for YOU? This panel hopes to break down barriers and foster community support among organic farmers and farmers interested in the transition to organic.
Presenter: Dick Coote
Dick has always found record keeping a challenge, not least because he doesn’t enjoy doing it. The most useful aid he has found is a daily planner/diary in which he tries to record every significant event and quantity. He can then complete production, storage and sales records accurately at a later date.
Dick and Bev Coote run Littledown Farms, just west of Stittsville, with 180 certified organic acres, of which 120 are variably in soybeans, spelt, buckwheat, hay and pasture. They usually have 14 to 16 beef yearlings on pasture and hay, with some of these being certified organic.
Presenter: Renée Primeau, a founding member of Tourne-sol Co-operative Farm
Renée spends much of her time managing the field crew and is actively involved in the day to day operations of the farm. She also manages the farm’s organic certification and associated record-keeping systems. In her eleven years of dealing with certification on a busy and complicated farm, Renée has faced many challenges with certification and looks forward to sharing some of her insights and suggestions on making things easier.
Renée Primeau is one of the founding members of Tourne-sol Co-operative Farm, a worker’s co-operative in Les Cèdres, QC. She has been co-running the farm with her 4 farm partners since 2005. They produce organic vegetables, seeds and cut flowers, which are marketed through their 400 member CSA, farmer’s market and online seed store.
Presenter: Carolyn Young, Organic Council of Ontario
Ontario has over $1.4 billion in retail sales of organic products and yet only 2% of all Ontario agriculture is organic. Ontario is falling behind other jurisdictions like Quebec and the US where the organic industry is better supported with the result that more acreage there is farmed organically. The Organic Council of Ontario is consulting with the sector to better understand what challenges are preventing the sector from growing and what supports are needed. Come discuss the findings from over 500 surveys and 40 interviews with producers and value chain members. Give your input on what the organic sector needs to grow and thrive.
Carolyn Young (Consultant)— Carolyn Young is the past Director of Sustain Ontario, the alliance for healthy food and farming. As a former organic inspector, Carolyn has extensive expertise in the area of organic value chains. She is also an expert in non-profit management, business planning and strategic planning, having helped lead the growth of the Sustain Ontario alliance over four years. She has conducted several sector-wide consultations for the purposes of the Ontario Food and Nutrition Strategy, the Local Food Act and Regional Designations for the government. Carolyn has a background in membership and governance development as well as action planning.
Presenter: Laurie Maus MSc., Hawk Hill Farm, Dunvegan, ON
Internal parasites are found in all livestock. While these parasites can cause serious even fatal problems with your livestock, they can be controlled with proper management. Increasingly producers are relying on fecal egg counts to identify and monitor parasite loads in their animals. However too many producers are intimidated by the costs and uncomfortable with the interpretation of the results of these tests. The result is they choose not to include this useful tool in their management program. Most if not all producers are capable of learning how to do fecal egg counting “on-farm”. This talk will demystify the technique and explain the benefits to producers.
Laurie Maus is a scientist by training and a farmer by choice. After a varied career in research, education and regulation, she has chosen to farm full time. Over the last 45 years she has raised cattle, chickens and horses most recently specializing in the breeding of rare, heritage breeds. She has used her experience as a scientist to set up an “on farm” lab. She has been monitoring parasite burdens and management success in her livestock using fecal egg counts. Over the last few years she has been training other producers how to do their own fecal egg counts. She and her husband Bob Garner live at Hawk Hill Farm in North Glengarry, Ontario.
Presenter: Jacqui Ehninger-Cuervo, J & F Farm, Dunrobin, ON
By now, I’m sure just about everyone has seen, or been forwarded the information about the Flow™ Hive (“Honey on Tap”) system. In fact, if your friends know that you are a beekeeper, they’ve probably all sent you the information about Flow™ Hive. As one person said to me: “If I get that stupid email one more time, I’m going to scream!”
Flow™ Hive definitely has the bee world up in arms: Some rave, others rant about it. Is it a silly fad, or is it the next big disruptor in beekeeping? The fact that it made a huge splash amongst both apiarists and layfolk alike, and is probably the most successful Indiegogo campaign ever, cannot be denied.
Here is your chance to judge for yourself – we’ll present to you a year in review using the Flow™ Hive system. We’ll also talk about what effect Flow™ Hive might have on global bee populations, why it might be of interest to organic farmers and we will bring a Flow™ Hive system along, so you can take a close-up look at the mechanics behind it.
Jacqui and her husband Fernando have been part-time farmers and homesteaders for close to 20 years. As their professional careers are winding down, they are spending more time on their land, trying to create integrated ecosystems. Last year, bees were added to the mix using the new Flow™ Hive system.
Presenter: Barbara Schaefer, Upper Canada Heritage Meats and Board of Directors, Farmersville Community Abattoir
Farmersville Community Abattoir (FCA) is a not-for-profit corporation that was conceived in February 2016 to address an urgent need in Leeds and Grenville and surrounding counties for livestock slaughter services to local farmers. The purpose of FCA is to provide a long-term, secure and reliable service to farmers so they may better plan and operate their farm businesses. Opened in October 2016, FCA now provides weekly slaughter, meat cutting and packaging services. In this session, Barbara Schaefer will discuss the development of the Farmersville Community Abattoir and how this farmer-led initiative is filling a much-needed gap for area farmers.
Having a lifelong interest in environmental protection, Schaefer focused the early years of her career on policy and program development. Prior to 2007, Schaefer spent 18 years working in a variety of positions that had nothing to do with her current life as a farmer. In 2007, Schaefer made the dramatic switch from office to farm, purchasing 4 bred sows of the Large Black Pig variety. Since then, she has increased the herd to over 300 pigs and raises them for meat and breeding. She has sold breeding pairs all across Canada and into the U.S., helping to ensure the continuation of this rare breed into the future. In February of 2016, Schaefer faced the very real possibility that she would no longer be able to find a slaughterhouse to process the meat from her pigs. A steady decline in the number of slaughterhouses in Eastern Ontario, particularly in Leeds County, was making it harder and harder to find reliable processing. The closure of Rideau Meats of Smiths Falls in February was an enormous blow to the local livestock farmers and Schaefer realized that if something wasn’t done to address the problem, she and other livestock farmers would have to give up their businesses. Schaefer has spent the last year establishing Farmersville Community Abattoir, a not-for-profit slaughterhouse located near Athens, Ontario. She is here today to share the experience with you.
Presenter: Roger Samson (M.Sc.), Executive Director of Resource Efficient Agricultural Production (REAP)-Canada, https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Roger_Samson2
Switchgrass, a native Ontario perennial warm season grass is now setting its deep roots again in the organic farming movement in Ontario. Leading farmers are now recognizing the potential of the crop as a productive, soil restoring and resilient species for their farm. It also has unique features that make it superior to straw in both livestock applications and as a horticultural mulch.
This intermediate level workshop will introduce producers to the key steps to growing the crop, why it is so good at building soil fertility and innovative new applications for organic farming. One of the key advantages of switchgrass as a bedding or mulch is that it is carbon rich and has a low nitrogen content. It is much slower to decompose than cereal straw and harbours less bacteria creating a more hygienic poultry and dairy bedding. As a horticultural mulch, it is gaining popularity in organic garlic and strawberry production in Quebec. Compared to wheat straw as a mulch it provides: superior winter protection to high value crops; harbors fewer annual weeds seeds; and its low nitrogen content makes it very slow to decompose offering residual weed control. It also makes a fine horticultural mulch for urban permaculture and prairie gardens.
Roger Samson (M.Sc.) is the Executive Director of Resource Efficient Agricultural Production (REAP)-Canada in Ste Anne-de Bellevue Quebec. Mr Samson has worked for nearly 3 decades to advance the development of agroecology in Canada and in developing countries (China, The Philippines and West Africa). He was involved in some of the first participatory on-farm research on sustainable farming in Ontario in the mid-1980’s. In 1991, REAP-CANADA began the first work in Canada to promote native grasses of switchgrass and big bluestem as perennial biomass crops for agri-fibre and bioenergy applications. REAP has developed new selections of switchgrass and big bluestem selected for low input farming that are currently being scaled up in Ontario. He also recently helped support a recent OMAFRA project to develop an 89 page production guide on switchgrass and accompanying videos. Mr Samson is certified permaculturalist, specialist in prairie gardening and amateur tomato breeder.
Presenter: Joshua Biemond, New Care Eco Farm and Biemond’s Upper Canada Creamery
This workshop will focus on the importance of cover crops and the diversity they offer as solutions to soil issues. We will review cover crops for weed control, pest management, nematode control, and soil biology. This session will provide you with the tools to prevent issues rather than reactive measures normally taken and aid in improving the overall soil health. The information shared will apply to anyone working with soil – large and small operations.
I am Joshua Biemond, a second generation organic dairy/cash crop owner and operator. I have been playing an active role on the farm for the last 15 years and in 2011 my brother and I bought the farm together. My primary role on the farm is crop management and soil fertility, a subject I have been passionate about and taking a number of supplementary courses on for the last 10 years.
Presenter: Anne Weill, agronomist, Ph.D.
CETAB+ is a college-level organization dedicated to applied research in organic agriculture. Since 2011, the control of perennial weeds has been the focus of much on-farm trials by researchers Weill, Duval and participating farmers.
Spring fallow against sow thistle, Canada thistle and coltsfoot has been tested during 4 years on 6 farms in the Southern Québec. The effectiveness of 2 and 3 mechanical destructions of the weed prior to seeding a green manure or soybeans was evaluated. Excellent results have been obtained when the timing of the weed destruction was adequate and if a very aggressive green manure or cultivated soybean is sown just after the last destruction of the weed. Other cultural techniques such as mechanical weeding or introducing hay in the rotation have also been evaluated and will be summarized in this workshop.
Anne Weill, agronomist, Ph.D., holds an industrial research chair on organic crop protection. Her actual work focusses on weed control in cash crop farming. She also works extensively on soil evaluation and management. She published a few bulletins on weed control as well a guide on visual soil evaluation (Guide sur les profils de sol agronomiques – Agri-Réseau) and a guide on subsoiling (see on www.cetab.org for the English version). She also has been a crop advisor for cash crop and vegetable producers for 15 years. She joined CETAB+ team in Victoriaville, Quebec, in 2010.