EFAO Membership: Farm size and products

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The second in our Membership Month blog posts (if you haven’t already, check out the first blog post),we offer some more insights into the types of farms that are a part of the EFAO community.

Membership by farm size

EFAO represents members of all sizes, even though the majority of farmer members (63%) operate farms between 20 and 250 acres. EFAO has several farmer members and aspiring farmer members with very small farms, or even backyard gardens. But it also represents operations of 500 acres and bigger – the largest one operating a dairy with 1000 acres.

Membership by farm size

EFAO members offer a large variety of products. These range from vegetables as the most listed product, over fruits, grains, a variety of meat products, to niche and specialized products – seeds, fibre products, or nursery stocks.

In more detail, of those members who reported their products,

  • two third of members (63.1%) offer produce of some type (veggies or fruits).
  • almost two third of members (57.3%) offer animal products (meat or dairy).
  • one third of members (32.8%) offer grains or other field crops.

Half of all producers of vegetables or fruits also offer animal products, and half of those offering field crops as well. It is thus fair to describe the EFAO membership as highly diversified, and EFAO represents integrated crop-livestock operations.

Products offered by members. Members reported that they offer, on average, 2.1 product categories.

EFAO is thus not a typical commodity group that would focus on optimizing the production and marketing of a single product. Instead, EFAO represents farmers with complex production and marketing strategies. Typical problems  that our members face center around managing diversity, e.g. combining wholesale and direct marketing, integrating livestock into field fertility management, multi-species grazing, intercropping in vegetable fields, and complex crop rotations that include “exotic” crops (not corn, beans, wheat, canola) with limited commodity markets. Such management tasks tend optimize trade-offs among multiple income streams, rather than maximizing the benefits from a single activity.

EFAO Membership: Spatial representation

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In the spirit of Membership Month at EFAO, we would like to share some information about who our members are.  This is the first of two posts to tell you more about the EFAO community.

Regional representation

As of March 7th, EFAO had an active membership of 368 farms (plus 88 which recently expired and may be in renewal).  With 274 members or 61%, the region with most members is Western Ontario – an area from Niagara to Hamilton, Dufferin and Grey Bruce all the way to Essex.  The second-largest membership is in the East, with 97 members or 21% – basically the counties of Kawartha Lakes and further east. Central Ontario has 69 members or 15% – the region between Halton and Durham all the way north to Muskoka. EFAO has lowest representation in the high north (Nipissing to Rainy River), with only 11 members (2.5%).

The 10 counties best represented (with the most members) are, beginning with the most, are Wellington, Grey, Bruce, Elgin, Hamilton, Simcoe, Huron, Waterloo, Oxford, and Frontenac.

Membership categories

EFAO currently offers 6 membership categories: Farmers, Aspiring farmers, Friends of Farmers, Businesses & Organizations, Educators, and others. The vast majority of EFAO’s members are farmers (70.0%) or aspiring farmers (20.2%). The new category of Friends of Farmers make up 6.6% of all membership. We welcome this group of supporters – it connects our farmer membership with the broader population! The remaining 3.2% are educators, organizations/businesses, or “others”.


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.

EFAO is seeking a Fundraising Coordinator

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EFAO Fundraising Coordinator Position

Position: 30 hours/week, offered through the Ontario Job Creation Partnerships (OJCP) program (see eligibility criteria below)

Duration: 26-40 weeks, starting early February 2018

Compensation: $423/week through OJCP program                                                               

Location: Guelph, Ontario

Job Opportunity:
The Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario (EFAO) is looking for a motivated and organized individual to research, design, carry out and evaluate a fundraising strategy for EFAO. The 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 Ontario Job Creation Partnerships (OJCP) program. After being selected by EFAO, candidates will also be interviewed by a program representative. Eligibility criteria include the following:

  • Unemployed and legally entitled to work in Canada (if working part-time, must be less than 20 hours per week);
  • Eligible for Employment Insurance Benefits, or have collected EI Benefits in the past 36 months, or finished a maternity or parental claim within the last 60 months are now looking to return to the work force;
  • Have completed a Needs Assessment interview with a designated Service Provider, and developed a Return To Work Action Plan (RTWAP) indicating that a JCP position is a suitable intervention to meet the Plan’s goal.



  • Research potential fundraising opportunities
  • Develop both a short-term and long-term Fundraising Strategy
  • Coordinate and attend fundraising events, gather feedback and prepare reports on event success
  • Develop communications materials
  • Attend public events, conferences and tradeshows to promote donor fundraising program
  • Explore fundraising opportunities through EFAO merchandise (i.e. baseball hats, t-shirts, etc)
  • Other project-related activities as needed.


Skills & Assets Required:

  • Experience with fundraising and marketing/communications
  • Experience preparing budgets and making budget reports
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills
  • Experience with social media platforms
  • Timely and attentive to details
  • Relationship-building skills
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team
  • Self motivated, creative problem solver with the ability to prioritize and see tasks through
  • Experience working or volunteering with non-profit organizations
  • Familiarity with the broader ecological farm community in Ontario
  • Access to a car and valid driver’s license
  • 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: Please apply on or before February 2, 2018

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

Event Coordinators Wanted!

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EFAO Volunteer Positions

On-Farm Event Coordinators

Position: On-Farm Event Coordinators

Type: 7-month volunteer position (details below)

Organization: Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario (

Location: Guelph, Ontario

EFAO is looking for 2 Volunteer On-Farm Coordinators, one located in Eastern Ontario and one located in Southwestern Ontario.

In this position, you would attend and facilitate farm tours and on-farm workshops covering a variety of topics, from irrigation to cut flower production on behalf of EFAO. The On-Farm Event Coordinator is a volunteer position starting in April and lasting until November 2018. The position involves approximately 40 hours of work total, depending on schedule and availability. Events may be on weekends or weekdays (typically, though not exclusively, Sunday, Monday, or Wednesday) and can be up to 6 or 8 hours, including travel time. Volunteers are reimbursed for travel expenses.

Application Deadline: February 24, 2018

Responsibilities may include:

  • Bringing necessary supplies
  • Taking registrations and payment
  • Introducing EFAO
  • Supporting farm tour host as needed
  • Collecting evaluations
  • Documenting the event (blog post, pictures or video)


  • Experience coordinating events
  • Experience public speaking
  • Practical farming experience
  • Knowledge of ecological agriculture
  • Excellent oral communication skills
  • Timely and attentive to details
  • Relationship-building skills
  • Ability to see tasks through
  • Familiarity with broader farm community in Ontario


Position Requirements

  • One of the volunteers must live in, or close to Guelph, Ontario and be available to come into the office
  • You will need to have access to a car and valid driver’s license


A complete application will consist of:

  1. A resume outlining relevant experience
  2. A cover letter describing why you would be a good fit for this position


Questions about the position can be directed to Katie Baikie, Membership Services Program Manager (, 519-822-8606).

Email resume and cover letter in a single document by February 24th to

Provide input to Ontario’s Soil Health Strategy

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OMAFRA is inviting comments on their Draft Agricultural Soil Health and Conservation Strategy until Dec 31. This is an important opportunity to shape priorities and directions on managing soil health in Ontario for the next 15 years. According to OMAFRAs own statistics, 82% of farmland has been losing soil organic matter and 54% of farmland is at serious risk of erosion. The Strategy covers 4 main Soil themes: Management; Data & Mapping; Evaluation & Monitoring; Knowledge & Innovation. While the stated goals and objectives of the draft Strategy and strong, they are not sufficiently captured in the targets and action plans.

The EFAO Soil Health Working Group was asked to prepare a submission, and we encourage all EFAO members to provide individual feedback as well. You can do this by responding via OMAFRA’s feedback form or by sending an email to (Better yet – do BOTH!).

Here are some of the points the Soil Health Working Group is addressing:

1. Farmers have a key role to play in counteracting climate change, as increases in soil organic carbon reduce atmospheric CO2. In order to take advantage of this, our provincial strategy must:

  • establish more aggressive targets for increasing % soil organic matter, and decreasing both % bare winter soil and % topsoil loss

  • set interim targets because 2030 is too far away

  • move away from limitations of Best Management Practices (BMP) to an integrated systems approach

2. The strategy should include provision of financial incentive for reaching and exceeding Soil Health improvement targets that:

  • incentivize results of farmers’ management strategies rather than compliance with particular BMPs

  • don’t disqualify financial supports from those who are already improving Soil Health

In response to the Feedback Form question “What could you or your organization do to support efforts to improve soil health and conservation in Ontario?” The EFAO Soil Health Working Group is suggesting:

  • Continue to improve on-farm cover cropping, soil building and tillage reduction practices

  • Provide funds to support peer-to-peer educational events and farmer-led research

  • The Agriculture Community should not be responsible for the full cost for building Soil Health – activities of agricultural non-profits, especially those that promote Peer-to-Peer networks, should be shared widely and funded

If you send an email submission, please cc or bcc EFAO’s Soil Health Working group at