News & Events

Farms at Work creates buzz over pollinators with on-farm plantings

planting shrubs on a farm
Pollinators are all the buzz this week as Canada celebrates Pollinator Week, bringing awareness to the importance of pollinators for ecosystems, food security, and the economy. Farmers in east central Ontario took strides this year in protecting native pollinators on their farms, but the pollinators aren’t the only ones that will benefit.

Granite Forest Farm in Campbellford worked with Farms at Work to create a “bee pasture” of plants that would support both native pollinators and their 200 hives of honeybees. The planting will increase the amount of forage available to their bees and augment their honey production. Bob Horvat of Peterborough also welcomed pollinators to his farm property with a planting of shrubs and trees that support native bees. The plants not only create habitat for hundreds of insects and wildlife, but they attract pollinators which are critical for producing fruit from his orchards.

Farms at Work worked alongside staff from Otonabee Region Conservation Authority on several planting days, and Peterborough County landowners had help from the Peterborough County Stewardship Council with the cost of plants. All three organizations are members of the Kawartha Farm Stewardship Collaborative (KFSC), working together with farmers to make environmental improvements on their farms. Farms at Work also had the support of The Schad Foundation for its role in making site visits and preparing planting plans.  

pollinator planting on farmland

Farmers in east central Ontario are employing practical solutions that support the goal of pollinator health and benefit their farm operations as well as local food systems. Farms at Work and the rest of the members of KFSC are proud to be able to help farmers achieve these goals. To learn more about Farms at Work’s Native Pollinator Program, visit farmsatwork.ca/pollinators. To learn more about the Kawartha Farm Stewardship Collaborative, visit kawarthafarmstewardship.org

The Corn Is In The Ground

The Flint Corn project got off to a great season late last week, building and planting 37 traditional mounds with flint corn and ceremonial tobacco. Squash, beans and sunflowers still to come! At the end of the season there will be a traditional feast of indigenous foods.

Our thanks go out to community volunteers, including students at St. Peter Secondary School (rock-picking and watering experts!) and Six-Nations based farmer and knowledge-holder Cameron Martin, who made it all possible with his van and roto-tilling expertise!

This year the Flint Corn project is located at the Mount Community Centre. If your group would like a tour, or if you'd like to volunteer at any time during the season, please contact flintcornproject@gmail.com as soon as possible. Another workday is scheduled for later in June, when we will be planting the squash, beans, and sunflowers.

Women’s Institute Invests in Future Farmers through Farms at Work

Women's Institute presents cheque to Farms at Work
The Women’s Institute Peterborough District has made a significant donation to Farms at Work, a local non-profit that promotes healthy and active farmland in east central Ontario. The Women’s Institute conducts a fundraising project for a community organization every year, and this year they chose a cause that would honour their agricultural roots.

The Federated Women's Institutes of Canada began over 100 years ago after Adelaide Hoodless of Stoney Creek, Ontario lost her son due to contaminated raw milk. At the time, the Farmers’ Institute gave farmers opportunities to build their agricultural skills. Hoodless’ story inspired Erland and Janet Lee of Stoney Creek to form the first Women's Institute so rural women could receive similar education in domestic skills and family health. Over time, the Women’s Institute evolved and became involved in advocacy and charity, such as knitting socks for soldiers during wartime.

JoEllen Brydon, President of Mount Pleasant Women’s Institute, nominated Farms at Work as the recipient of the donation. She felt supporting Farms at Work was a tribute to the farming origins of the Women’s Institute. Brydon says she has seen the significance of farming over the many years that she has lived in this area. “I believe that the work of Farms at Work will help carry farming in this region into the future,” Brydon said.

The funds donated will support Farms at Work’s mentorship programs which allow beginning and diversifying farmers to gain hands-on experience in their area of interest. Programs are currently offered in sheep farming, beekeeping and maple syrup production, and have provided valuable skills to close to 60 producers in east central Ontario over the past four years.

The fundraising initiative was a collaborative effort of six Women’s Institute branches: Bailieboro, Belmont, North Shore, Mount Pleasant, Selwyn, and Westwood. The branches collected donations and raised about $960, which they presented to Farms at Work at their annual meeting on Wednesday, May 11th.

FAW Maple Syrup Mentorship Wraps Up a Great First Year!

Maple Syrup Production Mentorship Mentors and Participants
Participants in the FAW Maple Syrup Mentorship Program spent their last day of the Program on a field trip, touring three well-respected maple shacks. The trip wrapped up a very successful first year of this unique mentorship.

Over the course of the season, the participants learned practical skills in maple bush management, syrup production, and business planning. Mark, one of the inaugural participants in the program, said: "I have gained invaluable experience and highly recommend this program to all novices".

Many thanks to Marc and Diane Curle for doing an outstanding job of engaging participants and sharing their knowledge. Farms at Work has begun planning the second year of the program and we're looking forward to another great season!

Monitoring for Pollinators and Beneficial Insects on Farms

Common Eastern Bumble Bee
Farms at Work is pleased to be working with the University of Guelph to monitor pollinators on farms in Central Ontario.  This project is a first for Ontario and will allow researchers and the farming community to work together to gather information about native pollinators that are important on farms.

If your farm would like to participate in the project, please contact sue@farmsatwork.ca by Friday, May 13th.