Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario Commentary
By Brooke Wareing, CFFO Communications Intern
“We value our past, we believe in our future.” This was the theme for the CFFO’s 2017 Agri-Day, a day devoted to agriculture, its history and its future. This year we put a new spin on our old convention format by getting our members outside and engaging with others in the agriculture community. Agri-Day was hosted on Tuesday, October 17th and featured speakers along with a tour of Country Heritage Park In Milton.
As we celebrate Canada’s 150 years, we also recognize the history of agriculture in Ontario. The tour of Country Heritage Park gave the Agri-Day attendees a reminder of our roots. The park is home to over 80 acres of property and over 30 buildings. Guests can visit everything from an 1886 schoolhouse to a 1937 John Deere dealership. Guests were transported back in time, observing items like antique milking systems, hand operated drills and, of course, antique tractors
These items, while from a different time, are a reminder that our goals and struggles are still the same. Ploughing, harvesting and milking still need to be accomplished. While we may perform these tasks more efficiently today, things are not all that different.
Jamie Reaume, CEO of Country Heritage Park, shared historical examples that highlighted the many ways agriculture has changed, but also remained the same. For example, a newspaper article from the 1920s asked how to keep young men on the farm. Trench digging equipment on display demonstrated that farmers were installing tile drains a hundred years ago.
Agri-Day commenced with reflections of the past and concluded with a look at issues affecting today and tomorrow, thanks to two thought-provoking speakers. Sarah Rotz of the University of Guelph spoke on her research regarding agricultural diversity and land rental. Her talk raised many questions about the soil health implications of increasing land rental in Ontario and provided a unique perspective on current agricultural support for diverse types of farms. The final speaker of the day, Greg Peterson, creates musical parodies about farm life on YouTube which educate urbanites about what it’s like to be a farmer today. His speech relayed how important it is to advocate for agriculture and for farmers to “take initiative and tell your story,” whether it is on social media, giving a farm tour, or just talking with your neighbour.
Agri-Day started with a trip back in time and concluded with reminding ourselves about how far we have come. While things have changed in agriculture, the day reminds attendees that the challenges and opportunities are still the same.