For the first time in Ontario, prime agricultural land has been permanently protected through a farmland conservation easement with the Ontario Farmland Trust (OFT).
Made possible through the generosity of long-time horse enthusiast Deirdre Wright, the easement ensures that the Belain Farm in Caledon remains in farming for generations to come.
“It’s terribly important that we preserve our countryside and see that it stays rural,” Wright says. “It’s so disastrous to see it being eaten up by aggregate and all those houses.” Since moving to the farm in 1970, she has witnessed rapid land use changes in the area, including the development of enormous aggregate pits that now surround three sides of the property.
Described by supporters as an oasis amidst the many aggregate and urbanization issues, the Belain Farm sets a precedent for other farmland owners facing similar development pressures. The 97 acre mixed grain and horse farm also contains mature hardwood forests and provincially significant wetlands.
The OFT farmland conservation easement, which is now tied to the title of the land, prevents current and future landowners from altering the property from its natural state and existing use for agriculture. Urban development and aggregate extraction, for example, are not permitted.
Wright says many of her neighbors operate horse farms as well and are delighted with the land preservation initiative she has pursued with the OFT. She hopes word of the activities at Belain Farm has spread across the province and many more people will now follow suit to protect their land as well.
Those involved in the horse industry can play a large role in the preservation of Ontario’s rich countryside and rural heritage. Through farmland conservation easements like Wright’s, the equine community has the potential to raise a strong voice in support of agriculture and land preservation, especially near urban areas where development pressures are high and future of farming is uncertain.
An appreciation ceremony was held in August to acknowledge Wright’s donation and the support of the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation and the Credit Valley Conservation Authority, who were key partners with the OFT in this historic easement project. Since then, one more farm near Goderich in Huron County has been preserved through the Farmland Trust.
For more information on the OFT, please visit www.OntarioFarmlandTrust.ca or contact Bruce Mackenzie, OFT Executive Director, at (519) 824-4120, ext. 52686.
The Ontario Farmland Trust is a not-for-profit organization that works to preserve the agricultural, natural and cultural features of the countryside. OFT engages in research and advocacy for farmland preservation, as well as administering the farmland conservation easement program which allows for on-the-ground land protection, working in cooperation with landowners.
Equine Guelph is the horse owners’ and care givers’ Centre at the University of Guelph. It is a unique partnership dedicated to the health and well-being of horses, supported and overseen by equine industry groups. Equine Guelph is the epicentre for academia, industry and government – for the good of the equine industry as a whole.