Taking initiative to protect the environment and build the soil

By Treena Hein

John and Grace Kinghorn are shown with two of their environmental initiatives – a double walled fuel tank and some of the trees they’ve planted on their farm.

John and Grace Kinghorn are shown with two of their environmental initiatives – a double walled fuel tank and some of the trees they’ve planted on their farm.

(Woodville) – John Kinghorn grew up with a strong love of the land, and it was that love which called him back to make concrete improvements to his farm and the surrounding area after a very successful career off-farm.

Kinghorn’s ancestral beef and crop operation is located near Woodville, Ontario. He farms about 250 acres with his wife Grace of 52 years. John’s great-grandfather settled the land, and his father continued the tradition. When John was ready to enter the workforce however, he was attracted to an education/work program at General Motors in Oshawa. “Over the years, I was able to be involved in many innovative new ideas and had the opportunity to travel extensively in North America and Europe to explore these ideas and be involved in implementation of some of them,” he recalls. “It was 35 years of a fairy-tale ride in the industrial world for a farm boy.” Kinghorn retired early at the executive level, as Operations Manager of the Oshawa Truck Plant. Continue reading

Taking a farm sustainably into its second century

By Treena Hein for Farm & Food Care (Battersea)

It’s coming up on an exciting time for the Sleeth family farm in Battersea, Ontario. In a few

The Sleeth family includes (from left) Jeff, Ron, Eileen, Connor and Brody (Paul and Catherine’s sons), Paul and wife Catherine (Submitted photo)

The Sleeth family includes (from left) Jeff, Ron, Eileen, Connor and Brody (Paul and Catherine’s sons), Paul and wife Catherine (Submitted photo)

short years, Ron and Eileen and their family will celebrate the 200th anniversary of their ancestors’ arrival to Frontenac County from Ireland in 1820’s. They will also soon celebrate a century on the present farm, purchased by Ronald’s grandparents in 1921.

Ronald took over the dairy and cash cropping operation from his grandfather and father in 1962 when he married Eileen, who also comes from long-standing farm family in the area. In 1986, after their son Paul graduated from Kempville College, they established Eilevale Farm in partnership with him. Paul works off-farm, but plays a major role in the farm with repairs and cropping. Ron and Eileen’s other son Jeff is a veterinarian who looks after the health of the farm’s 75 Holsteins (30 milked daily). Ronald is the principal operator of the farm, with Eileen in charge of records and accounts in addition to maintenance of farm’s beautiful grounds and gardens. Eileen was recently recognized for 36 years of school bus driving as well. Two of Paul’s four sons are old enough now to feed the calves and heifers, and do the most of the field work and raise 100 meat chickens each year. Paul and Jeff recently purchased a neighbouring farm, increasing the family’s land ownership to 250 acres. Continue reading

A 50 year journey

By Lisa McLean and Kelly Daynard

The Heeman family

The Heeman family

London – It’s been a long journey from their homeland in Holland to a successful three-generation family farming business in London for the Heemans.

That journey started more than 50 years ago for Bill and Susan Heeman. Bill said that he was looking for new opportunities. “I was in love. I wanted to get married,” he recalls with a smile. Both Bill and Susan had family that had already moved to Canada so when a recruiter offered to sell them tickets to Canada, they decided that the time was right. Continue reading

Be positive when responding to critics in social media

By Brent Royce, Ontario farmer

As I’ve watched twitter over the last week I’ve been both surprised and disappointed by how those in Ontario agriculture have reacted to the point that for a few days I didn’t even know what to say or how to say it.

With the New Year, a new hashtag has emerged. #farm365 is the brain child of a very good agriculture spokesman – @FreshAirFarmer. The uptake of this has been amazing to say the least; agriculture has grabbed hold of this and have run to open their farm doors virtually to help connect with the urban public. Continue reading

Merry Christmas!

Here are a few fun facts about Christmas and Ontario’s farms. Wishing everyone a wonderful Christmas and all the best in 2015.



Christmas on Ontario farms

Diversity, innovation and teamwork are the keys to long-term success

By Treena Hein

Brothers (from left) Steve, Glenn and Tom Barrie receive an honour from the Clarington Board of Trade

Brothers (from left) Steve, Glenn and Tom Barrie receive an honour from the Clarington Board of Trade

(Bowmanville) – Brothers Tom, Stephen and Glenn Barrie work well as a team, and like any successful team, they share a similar outlook. They’ve always worked to have their family farm (called Terwidlen Farms, located between Bowmanville, Orono and Newcastle) stay sustainable – both in terms of looking after the land and in terms of long-term profitability. Continue reading

Young couple excited by the challenge of farming

By Melanie Epp

Sarah Biancucci and Vince Tkaczuk

Sarah Biancucci and Vince Tkaczuk

Vince Tkaczuk and Sarah Biancucci are the proud new owners of a small, seven-acre farm south of Mount Forest. They bought the property in June of 2013, and in the process moved one step closer to realizing their dream of becoming farmers. The two have big plans for the property they’re now calling Bell’s Edge Farm.

As their slogan, ‘Innovation and Cultivation,’ says, the goal is to farm intensively, but as sustainably as possible. Starting a new farm from nothing comes with its challenges but as the couple’s story shows, determination and drive prevails. Continue reading

Where’s the science?

By Micah Shearer-Kudel, Environmental Coordinator, Farm & Food Care

November 13, 2014 – A day that could mark a return to the ‘dark ages’ for Europe. Sweeping the headlines of the international scientific community is the announcement of the European Commission’s decision to not renew the role of Chief Scientific Advisor (CSA). This news comes on the heels of increased pressure from Greenpeace (backed by a long list of similar-minded NGOs) to have the role terminated and to have a “”…a variety of independent, multi-disciplinary sources, with a focus on the public interest” advise European politicians about scientific evidence, or lack thereof. The safety of the public is why bodies such as the European Commission exist. The decision to sack Anne Glover, now former CSA, is why the international scientific community, particularly in Europe, is up-in-arms. Continue reading

Farm & Food Care Statement on Bee Health

By Les Nichols –Farm & Food Care Environmental Council Chairman

Ontario farmers are very concerned about bee health.  We rely on bees as important pollinators of our crops – bees are of vital importance to all segments of agriculture and food.

Bee health, and specifically the possible impacts of neonicotinoid pesticides as a factor in pollinator health, is a very complex issue that is being reviewed and examined by experts around the world.

Farm & Food Care has long supported the creation of the Bee Health Working Group in Ontario, and the work of the Pest Management Regulation Agency (PMRA) as it examines and researches the concerns regarding bee health.  These are just two of many initiatives related to bees that are trying to determine what is actually happening and why.

Farm & Food Care applauds the work that many farmers and agri-food industry stakeholders have already invested into research and adopting new handling practices such as reducing the possible exposure of bees to dust from neonicotinoid treated seed. It is imperative to the viability of Ontario’s farmers who grow crops and associated businesses that any possible decisions to restrict the use of neonicotinoids be based on sound science and credible research. The goal of reducing honey bee deaths is one all farmers can support.

Ontario farmers are the original environmental stewards of the land.  We live and work on our farms and take ecosystem and bee health very seriously. Farm & Food Care encourages anyone that shares farmer concerns about pollinator health to support sound science and research. Understanding to what extent environmental issues impact bee health is important, not only for bees but for the benefit of all ecosystems surrounding agricultural lands.

Farm & Food Care encourages anyone that shares farmer concerns about pollinator health to allow the researchers and experts some more time to continue to investigate this important issue.   Let’s allow them to establish benchmarks and recommendations for changes and actions based on science and data collected here at home in Canada.

Grown-Up Bullying Alive and Well in Ontario as Farmers Get Steamrolled Over Neonics

By: Lyndsey Smith, reprinted with permission

Yesterday, the Ontario premier’s office and the ministry of the environment and climate change revealed its plan to restrict the use of neonicotinoid seed treatments. The goal, referred to as “aspirational,” is to reduce the number of Ontario corn and soybean acres planted with the seed treatment by 80% by the year 2017. The details of the new rules, regulations and certification for using the pesticide will be determined by July of 2015, the province says, following a two month consultation process running through December, 2014, and January, 2015.

You’ll note I didn’t say that the ministry of agriculture, food and rural affairs is proposing this plan, even though, yes, technically it is. Want to know why? Because from what I saw yesterday, OMAFRA isn’t the lead on this even a little — premier Kathleen Wynne and her environment minister, Glen Murray, are. And if I were Jeff Leal, minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs, or an Ontario farmer, I’d be feeling more than a little bullied at this point.

That this isn’t being driven by OMAFRA is a significant point, and speaks to the challenge ahead for farmers. It’s one thing to have to deal with changes and increased regulation stemming from your own ministry — a ministry that should understand and respect the complexity of your industry. It’s another beast to be expected to morph and fall in line with the demands of a ministry that is only handing down demands and not offering up any help on the solutions side. Mix in a bit of blatant ignorance of (or disregard for, I can’t tell which it is) farming and agriculture, and we’ve got ourselves a hot mess.

Farmers are, understandably, upset over the coming regulations. Wynne and Murray are busy patting themselves on the back and reminding voters how great they are, while simultaneously disregarding what it means on the ground for farmers and the environment. How so? Read on.

Access the full article here.