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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.
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!
If your farm would like to participate in the project, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, May 13th.
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.
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.
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