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Welcome to Caring for the Land - a blog about the Canadian farmers who spend every day growing crops and caring for animals. They're world leaders in the production of safe, high quality and low-cost food. And they do so in a way that protects the environment.

In fact, Canadian farmers lead the world in environmental initiatives. We're proud of how they care for the land - and want to tell you why. Our future depends on our ability to take good care of our land and water. It's a job that everyone who lives and works in agriculture takes seriously.

Through this blog, we'll explore many of the things being done on Canadian farms to help the environment.

On-farm environmental improvements yield decades of benefit for watershed

By Lilian Schaer It’s hard to imagine a prettier spot in Ontario than Bob McKessock’s farm. Nestled in the picturesque rolling hills of northern Grey County between Chatsworth and Owen Sound, the 100 acre farm where he raises beef cattle has been in his family for over 100 years. (more...)

A neonic ban not supported by science, and would make things worse

By Terry Daynard Some environmental groups have called, in an October 9 Guelph Mercury column, for a ban on use of neonicotinoid insecticides. They support this with dubious information and claims. This column provides an alternative perspective. Neonic insecticides do kill insects, including bees if not used carefully. In some situations, with certain dust-emitting corn planters, there can be deaths at seeding time in spring. Farmers, seed and equipment suppliers, and governments have moved quickly to reduce this risk. Preliminary statistics from Health Canada indicate springtime bee deaths were down significantly in 2014. (more...)

World Food Day

Today is a day to celebrate food, and to remind ourselves of the struggles some people have to find adequate food.  World Food Day was first established in 1945, and has been celebrated annually since 1981 on October 16. With 2014 being the International Year of Family Farming, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has chosen "Family Farming: Feeding the world, caring for the earth" as the theme for World Food Day 2014. In Canada, 98 per cent of farms are family-owned and operated. Thank you to the FAO for putting together this infographic for World Food Day. You can find the original post here, as well as more information about World Food Day and the International Year of Family Farming.

October Faces of Farming

Take a glimpse into Darcy Smith’s world and it’s hard to believe he has time for anything extra. He’s a proud dad to four young children, full time farmer, sportsman and active volunteer with several community groups. He’s also now the face of October in the 2014 Faces of Farming calendar published by Farm & Food Care Ontario. He was nominated by Grain Farmers of Ontario for the honour and participated in a photo shoot in the summer of 2013 with his family. (more...)

Riparian Project Funded by SARFIP aims to help erosion control and clean water

By Lilian Schaer for the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association A partnership with a local stewardship organization helped Bob and Gail Irvine leverage habitat development funding from the SARFIP program into a significant wetland development and habitat creation project on their Peterborough-area farm last year. The story has its beginnings in a project the year before when Irvine, who raises purebred Dorset sheep breeding stock on his 90-acre farm together with his wife Gail, needed a solution for a field that had been wet for many years. With the help of some grant programs, he was able to excavate a pond that improved his field by draining much of the water out of it. “The eyesore after all these projects in 2012 was the berm around the pond. It was being under-utilized and that’s when we decided we would undertake a pollinator project with plants, shrubs and trees, which develops habitats through creation of a riparian buffer strip,” he explains. He turned to Sue Chan with Farms at Work, a not for profit project that promotes healthy and active farmland in east central Ontario. She played a key role in bringing the Irvine project to fruition, helping him access additional funds and resources through the members of the Kawartha Farm Stewardship Collaborative, a group of organizations working together to help farmers access technical assistance and stewardship funding. She also helped secure private donors for some of the plant materials used in the project, as well as growing some herself, and it was Chan who designed the layout for the riparian area around the pond with all the pollinator plants. The total site is approximately three acres in size, which includes the pond in the middle and the buffer strips around it; all the plantings both in and around the pond were chosen for their benefit to pollinators, fish, birds and insects. Blueberries, for example, are great sources of pollen and nectar for bumble bees in early spring, and the fruit can be harvested later in the season. “We always try to work with models for others to follow so the idea is that this project will become a prototype for other projects in the area in the future,” says Chan, a firm believer in the power of collaboratives to help advance stewardship initiatives. Irvine is hopeful about the positive impact the project will have, including erosion control and cleaner water as a result of the creation of new habitats in an ...