Author Archives: Katie Baikie

**Deadline Extended** EFAO is hiring a Training and Resource Assistant

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EFAO Training and Resource Assistant (Summer Student)

Position: 30 hours/week, offered through the Canada Summer Jobs Program (eligibility criteria listed below). *Pending receipt of funding.

Duration: 14 weeks, April 30th – August 3rd, 2018

Compensation: $14/hr                                                               

Location: Guelph, Ontario

Job Opportunity:
The EFAO is looking for a motivated and organized individual to help deliver training, mentorship and peer-to-peer networking for ecological farmers. This includes training on business management, marketing and new product development, as well as environmentally sound agricultural practices (i.e. cover cropping, crop rotation, planting green manures, composting, soil conservation, timely and appropriate tillage, good livestock management, promoting biodiversity, and avoiding the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides). Training for farmers will include workshops (in person and by webinar), farm tours and networking meetings. Some webinars will be offered in French.

This position will also provide opportunities to connect with Ontario’s ecological agriculture community and take part in a dynamic grass-roots organization dedicated to supporting farmers!

About the EFAO:
The Ecological Farmers of Ontario (EFAO) is a farmer-led charitable organization that has been supporting ecological farmers in Ontario since 1979. We strive to provide practical farmer-to-farmer training in ecological farming and to build community and support for our member farmers. Our main activities include workshops, farm tours, kitchen table meetings, an advisory service, farmer-led research, an annual conference and a bi-monthly newsletter. To learn more about EFAO please visit


This position is being offered through the Canada Summer Jobs program. To be eligible for the program, students must:

  • be between 15 and 30 years of age at the start of the employment
  • have been registered as full-time students in the previous academic year and intend to return to school on a full-time basis in the next academic year
  • be a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, or person to whom refugee protection has been conferred under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act for the duration of the employment
  • have a valid Social Insurance Number at the start of employment and be legally entitled to work in Canada in accordance with relevant provincial or territorial legislation and regulations



  • Assist with promoting training activities through e-newsletter, social media, posters, outreach at events, etc. Attend training events when possible/interested and compile workshop feedback to inform future training activities.
  • Assist with gathering content for EFAO’s “Ecological Farming in Ontario” printed newsletter, including outreach to new potential newsletter contributors. Assist with archiving past issues (including scanning older issues) on the EFAO website as an online resource for ecological farmers.
  • Assist with planning for the annual “Ecological Farmers of Ontario Conference” including conference promotions, logistics, speaker organization, etc.
  • Assist with developing content for social media and blog posts.
  • Assist with the execution and development of member research packages.
  • Assist with member outreach.


Skills & Assets Required:

  • Excellent oral and written communication skills
  • Experience with social media platforms and online file-sharing platforms (i.e. Google Drive)
  • Basic graphic design skills an asset
  • Timely and attentive to details
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team
  • Self motivated, creative problem solver with the ability to prioritize and see tasks through
  • Familiarity with the broader ecological farm community in Ontario
  • Experience working or volunteering with non-profit organizations an asset
  • Access to a car and valid driver’s license an asset
  • Ability to occasionally work on weekends


To apply please email the following in a single PDF document to   

  • A cover letter describing why you would be a good fit for this position
  • A resume outlining relevant experience
  • 3 references


***Deadline Extended***: Please apply on or before April 18th, 2018

Please note that only candidates selected for an interview will be contacted.


EFAO Talks Ontario Budget

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Ali English, EFAO Executive Director, had the opportunity to present to the Honorable Charles Sousa, Minister of Finance, on February 6th, as part of pre-budget consultations. She spoke about the many environmental, economic and social impacts made by ecological farmers and requested that 2% of the agricultural budget be targeted to ecological growers (who represent roughly 2% of Ontario farms) and the organizations that support them.

In addition to Ali’s in-person address, we also sent a written submission for their review.  You can read the submission here.



March is Membership Month!

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March is the best time to join, renew or refer with EFAO!

March is Membership Month and this year, we aim to grow our membership by 150 new members!

Join, renew or refer by March 31 and you will be entered for a chance to win some amazing prizes:

  • $100 programming (new members in March will be entered in this draw)
  • a Full Conference pass, including a ticket to the Banquet dinner (anyone who has renewed or joined since April 1, 2017 will be entered in this draw)
  • a selection of great ecological farming books (anyone with a successful referral will be entered in this draw)


Not a member but considering joining? 

Membership benefits include:

  • Discounted rates on high-quality training events
  • Subscription to EFAO’s bi-monthly print newsletter
  • Access to the farmer-to-farmer Advisory Service
  • Funding & support to carry out on-farm research trials
  • Discounted EFAO Conference registration, and so much more!

Join EFAO’s Greenbelt Expansion Consultation Committee

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“Ontario is taking action to protect important water resources in the Greater Golden Horseshoe by launching a public consultation on expanding the province’s Greenbelt.”

In collaboration with the Organic Council of Ontario (OCO), EFAO will be drafting a submission to contribute by the end of the month giving perspectives from ecological and organic farmers on the Ontario Greenbelt Expansion proposal. We will strike a committee of EFAO and OCO members to guide this process.  This committee will meet twice by teleconference in February, provide additional contributions and ideas by email, and provide feedback on the final submission.  If you are interested in being a part of this process, please be in touch with Katie Baikie at by Friday, February 2.

Member Profile: Fiddlehead Farm

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Member Profile: Fiddlehead Farm

This is the full version of the member profile that appeared in the recent September/October edition of the Eimg_1197-version-2cological Farmer in Ontario newsletter.


1.)    Please tell us a bit about you and your farm.

We are Heather and Steve of Fiddlehead Farm in Prince Edward County. We run an eight-acre market garden producing veggie boxes and running farmer’s markets locally, as well as in Toronto 11 months of the year. We have six amazing crew members who are a mix of full and part-time employees on hourly wage.

We grew up in Montreal & Toronto and came to farming in our mid-twenties. With the help of parents, we were able to purchase a farm in 2012. Steve had spent a few years WWOOFing, interning, and completing the Fleming Sustainable Agriculture program. I spent the first two years working off farm, continuing to learn from other farmers, and then joined Steve full-time, full-year, on farm in 2014.


2.) Where do you farm, and why are you there?

Our farm is in Prince Edward County, and it’s a kind of natural in-between location for family in Montreal and Toronto. Moving down from Ottawa, it was right in the middle of all our social networks. It’s in a very touristy area, which helps support city luxuries like fine dining, independent shops, and lots of other small businesses. They in turn also attract lots of folks like us who believe in making the world a better place, and it’s got a whole different vibe from some of the other rural townships we visited when property hunting… this feels so much more like home!

“The County” is a little blip on the climate zone map, so we can add a month on either end of our growing season compared to the rest of eastern Ontario. Unfortunately, it’s a bit drier too… It is in the east, where land prices are way lower than the south-west. Finally, we’re in a corner of the county where there weren’t major farm stands to compete with, we’re closer to the 401, and property values were lower as it is a quieter “ward” – although we’re happy to be part of changing that!


3.)    What are your short-, mid- and long-term plans for your farm?

Short-term we want to take a holiday this winter, provide year-round employment for at least some of our staff, and better balance out our workloads. We need to reduce our summertime stress levels, and want to do some re-visioning as we’re just coasting out of our start-up five-year plan.

Medium-term we want to make sure we can use farming to meet our life and business goals. For life, that means fixing up our 1845 house, having leisure time, and being able to spend quality time together, too. For business, this means building up our soils, improving our efficiency, adding screen-shot-2016-09-14-at-9-30-12-pmto our off-season capacity, and creating meaningful year-round jobs for employees. We want to reduce the endless training cycle of seasonal workers at our end and to creative viable long term farming careers for our employees.

Long-term we want to be able to feed people in a sustainable system that balances ecology, economics, and society. This sees us farming with minimal waste, incorporating poly-orchards into our produce offerings, and successfully feeding people 12 months of the year with a relatively stable work flow.


4.)   Heather — you have a M.Sc. in Landscape Ecology. How does this training play into your life as a farmer?

For now, it doesn’t feel like it has a role in daily life… yet I think it really does play a role in our underlying approaches to farming. Steve also has a Masters (in Political Science) and I don’t know if it’s the studies or our personalities but people seem to comment on our “business sense.” I’m going to chalk some of it up to a slightly more mature entry into farming, and most of it I’ll attribute to attending numerous workshops – like holistic management, growing forward, and endless local farm tours. We’ve also had a pretty hardline approach since the beginning: either the farm pays for itself or it doesn’t happen. That being said, we’ve heavily re-invested our “wages” back into the farm over the first five years, living off one person’s draw.

My background certainly got me through the first few winters farming as I was able to find work. I had a lot of fun tackling data management over at Vicki’s Veggies with Tim over a few winters, building a cost of production-driven employee tracking system. That itself was a huge boost to developing my “business” sense.

5.)   You are trying out different mulches this year, with the idea that you might conduct a trial with the Farmer-led Research Program (FLRP) next year. Can you talk more about your motivation to experiment with mulches, and how you are conducting this informal trial?

There’s been a lot of confusion around so-called biodegradable plastic mulches, and we got caught in the midst of it. Bryan and Shannon at Broadfork Farm do a great summary of the issue in an ACORN newsletter also posted on their website:

fiddlehead farm fieldBasically, biodegradable black plastic mulch is an amazing solution to the age-old problem of balancing the benefits of mulch with practical and efficient ways to use it. In 2015 the Canadian Organic Standards were clarified to specify that despite being biodegradable, the mulch would have to be completely removed after use to be permitted in organic systems due to the presence of a plastic polymer. If you’ve ever worked with it before, you’ll know that is almost impossible as it partly biodegrades within a season, and tears up into shreds. There was a memo extending the permitted use until 2017, but we’re left with figuring out how to replace it.

So this year we ordered two other mulches to try alongside our classic black biodegradable mulch that we’ve become so attached to.  We put three different mulches on three rows of tomatoes to get a first glimpse at how they compared. We’re comparing the classic black biodegradable plastic mulch, some reusable thick landscape plastic mulch, and some paper mulch.  It’s just a little demonstration – since there’s no controls, randomization or replication… basically it was the quick and dirty version to get an idea of things. First impressions are that the woven landscape fabric held up the best and is reusable while the paper mulch came apart easily and sections ripped out in the wind when wet. We want to take ecological footprints into consideration as well. Over the winter we’ll take some time to design a proper experiment by thinking through a research question and hypothesis, designing an experiment to test that question, and then draw conclusions.

6.)   What gets you excited about participating in the FLRP next year?

Since coming to farming I’ve found that farmers are always trying to learn and share their knowledge, which is great. Sometimes I feel that we never really “know” things though, we’re just constantly trying out different approaches. Other times, information is presented as facts, but some learning venues were harder for me to grasp. I finally realized the issue when Steve was watching a video one day on pseudoscience vs. science. It was an aha moment.


Pseudoscience sets out to prove ideas, while Science is a careful attempt to DISprove your ideas. You never really “prove” any one answer, you only disprove competing hypotheses. That way in Science the door is always open for another explanation to come along and explain something better. It ensures the system can “learn”!

I’m really excited to participate in the FLRP because I feel like I have a grounding on both sides of the fence (research and farming) and there’s so much out there for us to learn. It is so simple to build some basic experiments and it is something I’ve not yet made time to do within the hectic farm startup life.  I think there is a lot that we can learn.

7.)    What has the impact of the drought been on your farm operations/yields this year? Have you seen any mitigating effects by the mulch trials so far?

At first, we were thinking ourselves lucky as we’re a market garden and we have an irrigation system. However, the system was not designed to handle this much water moving through it. Our irrigation pond, which typically runs out sometime in August was dry by early June. We got a second gas pump, and 500m of 2” piping to try to refill the pond from the marsh at the back of our property. We’ve spent a lot of time troubleshooting the system ourselves in addition to devoting one staffer full-time to irrigation, which is a huge cost, but thankfully she has embraced the challenge. The marsh water levels were far below normal when we got there, and by early August there was no more standing water (just muck). As I write this we’ve just gotten permission from a neighbour to try and run lines about 750m through his cattle pasture over to a lake, and if we can pull that off we’ll save our season, our staff, and our winter CSA. I’ve stopped speaking or thinking in “what if’s” as a basic attempt at sanity. 😉

The mulched beds have performed better overall as they are able to make better use of the water we’ve been giving them. We generally see better wicking of moisture and fuller saturation of the beds. They stay moist to the touch for several days longer than bare beds. It was a great year to try them out!

One challenge that evolved over the summer is that voles and field mice have been seeking sanctuary under the mulch and munching into the drip lines for water. We’ve have to do some patch work with the system running to make sure the lines weren’t flooding sections of the mulch. These days the leaks can be spotted by looking for patches of green weeds next to the mulched beds.

8.)   Have you had any “ah-ha” moments this season dealing with the drought?

There’s a huge difference between triage and production. A little water can keep a crop alive, but it takes a lot more water to keep them producing. We’ll need a way bigger reservoir to keep our vegetables producing if we have any more years like this one. Reducing the size of the garden to ensure that our land can “produce” the water needed to irrigate is an important consideration.

The drought has forced us to think critically about how we irrigate. We are hyper aware of the time, resource, and maintenance issues tied to our irrigation system as a result of this season. We entered 2016 wanting to upgrade and improve our system. At first that meant bringing in more overhead and reducing drip lines, largely from a time and footprint view of the materials involved. This year has pushed us to look more creatively at future solutions to address the major holes in the system, namely lack of capacity to move sufficient water in drought.

Moving to a solar electric pumping system emerged early since we are spending a hour of labour to cycle our pumps as the gas tanks empty, and a solar pump on a WiFi hookup could run itself with a text from our phone. Increasing our reservoir to allow us to survive extremely dry seasons is the another. Simplifying the system so that it is easier to water sections of the garden without switching each line on and off is the next challenge to think about. We like to build our infrastructure to survive the worst case scenario. This year has been a good case study.

8.) You are representing EFAO at the Organic Science Research Conference in Montreal in September. What are you hoping to learn or gain from the conference?

It’s so hard to tailor research to be useful to farmers and then get that research to them. Having worked in a research lab and also been a farmer I know it’s a tricky world to navigate. Research gets published in a scientific format in journals that are often physically inaccessible, as well as being overly technical. If we’re lucky, it gets interpreted by journalists who mostly interpret correctly. On the other side of  things, it’s easy to get lost in the concrete reality of farming and trying to think about science in season seems daunting, let alone tiptoeing around experiments and protocols as we work long days and are mostly desperately trying to keep things alive. There’s always something getting lost in the weeds, desperately needing transplanting, or drooping dangerously… at least at our place!


9.) What does the future of farming look like from where you are now? Fiddlehead farm team

Labour is a key issue on farms, and as we’ve moved from interns to staff on hourly wages we’re always dreaming about how to make it better. We see ourselves spending copious amounts of time training each year, and building a returning staff base feels like a far more efficient use of our time. We see that as requiring a new role on farms – rather than interns on minimal stipends or full-fledged owner/operators there needs to be a middle ground. Returning career farmers, with experience and expertise, could share the responsibility of farm management and production with the farm owner and should be compensated accordingly.

Starting a farm makes you realize how much of a jack of all trades you really have to be, and master of most. The trick is to recognize which bits you’re not good at, and to delegate or hire others to complement your skills. We’re lucky as our skills complement one another as a couple, but that’s not to say there isn’t ample work around to share the responsibilities of managing the farm with staffers.

Farmer Health Day at Zócalo Organics

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Regional Report

Farmer Health Day at Zócalo Organics: July 10
By Bethany Klapwyk


This is the full version of a Regional Report that appeared in the latest Ecological Farming in Ontario newsletter.



Participants gather in the Zócalo Organics barn for yoga.

In collaboration with the EFAO, our farm (Zócalo Organics) held a “Farmer Health Day” on Sunday July 10.  I want to share with you some musings about why I felt motivated to host this day and some reflections from the day itself.

In the last five years of farming, I have been able to access some incredible supports to help me cope with chronic health issues.  The supports I needed were not always easy or quick to find.   A therapist friend of mine once asked me the question I have often asked myself, “Farmers deal with so much, why are there no support groups for farmers?”

I get why people quit farming; it can stretch the body and mind in a fast and furious way. A week of missed weeding/planting/harvesting and the effects can reverberate for the rest of the season.  A farmer’s body works incredibly hard physically toward a specific goal.  When things do not go as planned or when things fail, I have often wondered how to let go of the physical memory of all this hard work and how we envisioned things happening on our farms, when we ask our bodies for so much.

It is also important to consider the role of geography and community in farmer health, and how farmers can feel isolated from one another or from a supportive community.

Despite the many challenges farming might present to a person’s health I maintain that farming, especially ecologically, is the best profession there is.  The rewards are so many!  So how do we strengthen our farming community so that geographical isolation or other factors that separate us do not get in the way of our individual and community resilience?



Carla Giddings leads the group in a stress management workshop.

What did we do together at our Farmer Health Day?

Throughout the day we offered workshops to farmers that related to both physical and mental health.  The day started with gentle yoga and breathing exercises to relax. We then learned some practical tips about how to be flexible farmers; we learned how to move our bodies and improve our physical fitness so that we have more energy for our work and we can farm safely. We had a delicious potluck lunch, filled with discussion and connection.  The day continued with a workshop on Homeopathic first aid where we learned about an alternative to Western Medicine and talked about how homeopathic medicines are made.  To finish, we discussed stress management on the farm, and were led in a discussion of how we can use our minds to respond, rather than react, to stresses on the farm.

Concurrently with the workshops, we had four local health practitioners offering individual treatments to farmers under a tent outside the barn.   There were many different modalities offered including osteopathy, Reiki, Indian head massage, foot reflexology, the body code, and shiatsu massage. The healers were booked back-to-back all day long, generously offering their services at reduced rates.


What were the results of the Farmer Health Day?


In addition to the scheduled group activities, participants could partake in reiki, Indian head massage, bio-energetic sychronization technique (B.E.S.T for short) and shiatsu massage with practitioners in a quiet setting.

Gathering together as farmers and acknowledging the work we do on our farms can be a powerful and comforting experience. It may not be logistically easy to meet up with other farmers, but I personally never regret making the effort. It was also amazing to host health practitioners who were eager to sympathize with and give to our farming community. This day was a reminder that we are part of a community of people who need support from one another.  There is a role for everyone — as supporter and supported (and likely a combination of the two!)

Hosting the Farmer Health Day was one of many activities I hope that can happen on this topic and one that I hope can continue.  Manorun Organic Farm in Hamilton has volunteered to host a fall Farmer Health Day for the West Region, and I look forward to being a part!  Please come on out or plan one at your farm for you and your neighbouring farm friends.

For more information about the Manorun Farmer Health Day visit  To find out about hosting a day on your farm, please be in touch with


Practical Tips for Farmer Health

We will be including these in future newsletters and/or blog posts, so please be in touch ( to share your thoughts and suggestions.


#1 Communication

Many of us are amazing communicators and great at telling others the what/how of the farm.  Talking about the products you produce, your production practices, and the details that most consumers wish to know about your operation.  As you communicate these details, I encourage you to tell others what is happening with your body and mind. “Come-out”, so to speak, about your struggles and successes.  Communicate boldly and authentically.  Educating consumers by telling them stories from the field AND connecting to people through conversations at a heart level will provide you with tangible support.  As far as you can, help non-farmers understand that when we say there is “trouble in the fields”, many times that “trouble” extends beyond the fields to a farmer’s heart/home/relationships/family/body-health.  Engage in conversations.  Listen, support, and be open to learning from anyone.

And as you engage and communicate with others in your life here are some things I learned from a mentor that I like to keep in mind…

  1. Be related. find and foster the things that connect
  2. Be authentically interested while not intrusive in the business of others
  3. Be intimate with others but not inappropriate
  4. Be bold with others, but not overbearing
  5. Be unreasonable, challenge others, while also being sensitive
  6. Be inspiring while not over-sentimental.


#2  Being a Flexible Farmer

(contributed by Naomi Krucker Farmer Health Day participant from Manorun Farm and EFAO staff)

Tips from Biomechanics graduate Andrew Sweetnam and his session on ‘How to be a flexible farmer’

Dynamic Stretching: Incorporating a few minutes of stretching before your work day can really help prepare your body for a full day of work and lessen the chances of injury. Dynamic stretching is a cardio type of stretching that gets the blood flowing and muscles active and ready for work. Incorporating jumping jacks followed by a couple minutes of stretching into your morning meeting are an easy way to fit stretching into your day.


Helpful body positions while working: Lifting bushel after bushel of vegetables out of the field will take a toll on your back if not done properly. Andrew explained that every time we bend over to pick something off the ground we are exerting 10 X the weight of our upper body onto our lower back. That is a lot of extra stress on the back! This can be eliminated by lifting with your legs. Keeping you back and shoulders nice and straight and then squatting deep to lift things shifts the stress from your back to your legs. While awkward to adjust to at first, your back will thank you later! Hand weeding is also hard on the back, especially when a lot of people tend to do it hunched over on their knees. This can be avoided by switching to the ‘jaguar’ position occasionally to relieve the stress on your back. In this position you are on your knees and bent over at the waist so that your forearms are bearing most of the weight. It works great for straddling carrot and beet rows and frees up both hands for thinning and weeding!
Extending your energy reservoir: Are you repeatedly exhausted after a hard days work? According to Andrew, you can extend your energy reservoir in order to avoid always feeling like you’re running on fumes. By making time for a bit of extra activity in your off hours (biking, 10 minute run, hike, etc.) you are building up your energy reservoir, which will leave you less exhausted at the end of your work day. Helpful tips for the hardworking farmer!

New opportunity with EFAO and NFU-O!

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EFAO and NFU-O are hiring a Communications Assistant



The Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario and the National Farmers Union – Ontario are seeking a Communications Assistant to work jointly with both organizations.


Position: Full time, 35 hours/week, offered through the Canada Summer Jobs program (see eligibility criteria below)

Duration: 8 weeks starting June 6th (flexible start date)

Compensation: $11.25/hour

Location: Guelph, Ontario


About the EFAO

The Ecological Farmers of Ontario (EFAO) is a farmer-led charitable organization that has been supporting ecological farmers in Ontario since 1979. We strive to provide practical farmer-to-farmer training in ecological farming and to build community and support for our farmers. Our main activities include workshops, farm tours, an advisory service, an annual conference, a Farmer-Led Research Program and a bi-monthly newsletter. To learn more about EFAO please visit


About the NFU-O

The National Farmers Union – Ontario (NFU – O) promotes policies that will revitalize agriculture in Ontario by strengthening family farms. On local, national and international levels, the NFU – O advocates alternative structures and government policies that resist corporate control of food. With farmers and consumers, the NFU – O works to encourage vibrant rural communities, environmentally sustainable practices and the production of safe, wholesome food. To learn more about NFU – O please visit



  • Experience and knowledge of communications and/or marketing (preferred)
  • Event planning experience an asset.
  • Direct experience with WordPress and/or MailChimp an asset.
  • Design skills and multi-media experience–including photography, podcasting, or proficiency with design software — an asset.
  • Experience working or volunteering in a non-profit organization.
  • Excellent communication skills, both verbal and written.
  • Flexible, skilled in working on multiple projects at a time.
  • Excellent time management skills.
  • Have capacity for independent work when necessary.
  • Interest in community-building, environmental sustainability and/or food security.
  • Knowledge of Ontario agricultural community an asset.


Tasks and Responsibilities:

  • Assist staff with communications to members, government, and the general public.
  • Assist with planning and promoting events and projects.
  • Attend events when possible.
  • Engage with farmers, eaters, and food system stakeholders through social media, electronic communication, and face-to-face conversation.
  • Assist in raising awareness about farming issues and programs to improve the economic viability of rural and farming issues.
  • Give and gather feedback on the success of outreach and messaging.
  • Research and compile available resources to enhance web presence.



This is a Canada Summer Jobs position. Candidates must be

  • between 15 and 30 years of age (inclusive) at the start of employment;
  • registered as a full-time student during the preceding academic year;
  • intend to return to school on a full-time basis during the next academic year;
  • in a student in a secondary, post-secondary, vocational or technical program;
  • a Canadian Citizen, permanent resident, or person on whom refugee protection has been conferred under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and;
  • legally entitled to work in Ontario.


Other requirements:

Valid Ontario driver’s license and regular access to a vehicle an asset


To apply:

Send your cover letter detailing how your skills, experience, and education fit with this position, along with your resume, in Word or PDF format to Sarah Bakker, NFU-O General Manager at with the subject line “Communications Assistant Application” by Thursday, May 19 at 5:00 p.m.


Only those applicants to be invited for an interview will be contacted. No phone calls please.

Farmers, consumers and non-profits gather to strengthen local food and farming in Ontario. New project launched at “Fair Finance Day.”

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GUELPH – On Monday February 22, 2016 at Loyola House (at Ignatius Jesuit Centre) in Guelph, farmers, consumers, and non-profits are gathering to launch a new project to strengthen local food and farming in Ontario. The event, Fair Finance for Local Food and Farms is the kick-off for a new collaborative project called ‘Strengthening Farm Viability and Co-operative Market Development for Ecological Farmers in Southwestern Ontario’. This project is funded for two years through Libro Credit Union’s Prosperity Fund, and is a collaboration between the Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario (EFAO) and the Local Organic Food Co-ops Network (LOFC Network.)


As the first in the series of collaborative events, Fair Finance for Local Food and Farms will bring together food and farm stakeholders from across the province to explore innovative and adaptable forms of finance.  Presenters include Brian Iler from Iler Campbell LLB, Christie Young from FarmStart, Frank Kennes from Libro Credit Union, Diana Jedig from the OAFDC among many other experts. Conversations with lenders and funders will explore various financing sources and how to build meaningful dialogue.  The event is open to the public.  Registration is at


Sally Miller, Network Project Coordinator with the LOFC Network says that “this is an amazing collaboration that links producers, workers, consumers and partners across the province to strengthen local food and farming in Ontario. Financing in this sector can be a significant challenge and this session will help to address the issue with innovative solutions for needs both large and small.”


The whole project is focused on environmental sustainability of agricultural production and the viability of agricultural businesses. Through peer-to-peer education, mentorship, and community-building initiatives, this project aims to increase connectedness to farming and local food entrepreneur peers, and help to enhance the understanding of best practices around production, marketing and business planning, while supporting and increasing the number of food and farming co-operative initiatives in Southwestern Ontario.


“Libro’s funding is going toward supporting our two organizations over the next two years – the Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario (EFAO) and the Local Organic Food Co-ops (LOFC) Network. The funding will allow us to expand our training opportunities for ecological farmers in Southwestern Ontario and support the development of food and farming co-ops. We’re grateful to be working with an organization that values our work!” says Ali English, Executive Director of the Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario.