Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario – Climate change presents an unprecedented challenge to the productivity and profitability of farms in Ontario. It is a struggle for farmers to manage the increase in droughts, heat and heavy rainfall brought on by climate change. As a result, many farmers are suffering reduced crop yields and income, are required to make new investments in infrastructure such as ponds and wells, and face increased stress and anxiety levels as they do their best to cope, often largely in isolation during the busy farming season.
Brent Preston and his wife Gillian Flies have been running a certified organic farm in Creemore, Ontario, for over 15 years: “With every decision that we make on our farm, we are thinking in the back of our minds: What is it going to be like to farm in 10 years? Are we going to be able to continue doing what we’re doing? Is the kind of extreme weather that we’re experiencing [going to] get worse? And how is it going to impact our business? So, for sure, [climate change is at the] top of [our] mind all the time in all of the decisions that we make, especially for investments.”
Preston and Flies are continually adjusting their operations in order to adapt. If there is anything that keeps their farm moving, it’s their ability to accept new realities, look forward, and put in place new strategies through diligent planning and adopting a holistic approach, both on and off the farm. But for farmers like them who are operating outside the mainstream, it can be difficult to get the support and training needed.
The Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario (EFAO) is helping to address this need by offering training on ways to adapt to and mitigate climate change. The theme of their upcoming Ecological Farmers of Ontario Conference (December 2-5, Belleville, ON) – “Climate of Curiosity” – speaks to the nature of farmers as curious and resilient innovators in the face of the very real impacts of climate change.
Renowned speakers from both Canada and the US will deliver intensive and practical training meant to help farmers build resilience in a changing climate. Among the over 30 speakers at the EFAO Conference is Andrew Mefferd – the editor of Growing for Market magazine, and the author of The Organic No-Till Farming Revolution – who will talk about organic no-till strategies to fit a smaller-scale operation, which can help mitigate climate change through carbon sequestration, while also resulting in reduced labour, and increased soil health and water-holding capacity. Javan Bernakevitch of All Points Land Design in BC will introduce the principles and practicalities of Keyline Design – a land design system that passively captures, redistributes and stores water evenly over a landscape promoting vegetative growth, farm productivity and soil fertility. Dr. Derek Lynch from Dalhousie University will discuss how to both measure and manage soil organic carbon – the key to climate change mitigation, soil health and climate resilience.