News & Events

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.

Sheep Farming Mentorship: Year Three Off to a Great Start!

sheep mentorship participant building gate
The participants in the 2016 Farms at Work Sheep Farming Mentorship Program enjoyed a beautiful sunny day for their first field day at Rocky Lane Farm.  Bob and Gail Irvine introduced the group to the characteristics of various sheep breeds and led them in a number of hands-on activities, including building sheep gates, proper sheep handling, and clipping hooves.
sheep mentorship participant clipping hooves

Over three years, this successful program has immersed 21 beginning shepherds into the sheep farming community and given them the practical skills they need to skilfully manage their own flock. Click here to read an article about the program in the Ontario Sheep Marking Agency's quarterly magazine Ontario Sheep News.

For more information on the program, click here or contact us at info@farmsatwork.ca  |  (705) 743-7671.

A Fantastic Weekend with Michael Bush!

Michael Bush presenting in Lindsay Ontario
This past weekend, over 200 new and experienced beekeepers came from as far as London, North Bay, and Montreal to explore Michael Bush's proven methods for treatment-free beekeeping. The participants had the unique opportunity to hear Michael Bush's practical beekeeping techniques, to meet with other beekeepers in the region, and to have their specific questions answered.

Audience at Treatment-Free Beekeeping with Michael Bush

Michael delivered a comprehensive series of presentations covering topics from Common Beekeeping Issues to Four Simple Steps to Healthier Bees. He discussed the critical tasks for a treatment-free beekeeper throughout the year, as well as how to approach challenges during the season.

The hosts of the event, Farms at Work, Central Ontario Beekeepers Association and Fleming College, would like to thank all those who participated and helped make this workshop a great success!