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Protect the Land, Don't Pave It!
(a People & Planet Gateway & Guide)

(1) Letter of the Day (Toronto Star, Jan. 8, 1998)
Organizations, Links & Resources (partially revised Sept 2007)
Conferences & Events (revised November 2002)

(1) Protect Farmland, Don't Pave It
letter of the day, Toronto Star, Jan. 8, 1998)

In today's business section (Jan 1, 1998), the mayor of Oshawa is pictured, proudly gazing down upon yet another new subdivision. What an anachronism! How can anybody still regard growth, particularly conventional growth, as good?

All the problems that threaten our future worsen in direct relation to our rate of growth. Each new "development" consumes more farmland and adds to all the other problems.

What's the big deal, you ask? The sky is still blue, the water still drinkable. When the going gets tough, the tough can get going, right? Wrong. Many processes have inertia or time lag. For example, even if we stop all production of CFC's today, ozone levels could continue to decline for fifty years playing a game of Russian roulette with all life on earth. Other processes are simply irreversible: when topsoil is lost, it can never be recovered. We have to act now. There are no more pressing issues.

Today's suburbanite is far removed from the farm that puts the food on his plate. He has come to take food for granted. But at what risk? Canada may be large, but only a small portion is farmable. Two thirds of our usable land has already been lost to over-farming and urban sprawl. And despite today's global economy, we can't depend on importing food (from countries whose practices are just as unsustainable as ours). We should protect our land, not pave it over. Let's create property tax incentives and zoning by-laws that encourage farmers to farm rather than sell to developers. This may not create new tax revenues, but will preserve existing communities and prevent remedial spending.

Where there must be development, let's not create more car-centric, land- and energy-wasting urban sprawl. There are much more earth- and people-friendly designs, such as the Ecovillage at Ithaca, just south of Lake Ontario. Progressive zoning and construction codes can facilitate the development of better communities. There are alternatives!

Regarding better, sustainable development, plenty of information is available. See the Sustainable Communities Network; the Smart Growth Network; Living With The Land; Stop Sprawl; Sprawl Watch; Smart Growth Vermont; Ontario Farmland Conservation Forum; Preservation of Agricultural Lands Society ...for more please see below.

At a time when Ontario Hydro is trying to choose the lesser evil of nuclear or coal power, our approach to development is not trivial. Just as today we look back at the obsolete attitudes of the 50's (with its "progressive" belching smoke-stacks), so tomorrow we will look back at today's attitudes to growth with regret and disbelief. Will we act soon enough? Or will we "develop" our land to death?

– Peter Blanchard (contact)

(Letter of the Day, Toronto Star, Jan. 8, 1998. Links revised September 2007)

"Globally we lose 25 billion tons of fertile topsoil every year, the equivalent of all
the wheatfields in Australia" –
Paul Hawken, The Ecology of Commerce (book)

Historic cause of demise of many great civilizations: Topsoil depletion
Percentage of original U.S. topsoil lost to date: 75
Amount of U.S. cropland lost each year to soil erosion: 4,000,000 acres (size of Connecticut).
– from Diet for a New America (book), by John Robbins. (1) (2)

Land Conservation Links & Resources

Sprawl & Smart Growth

Stopping Sprawl in Your Community:
David Suzuki: Urban Sprawl
Canadian Urban Institute
Smart Growth in Ontario
Ontario Nature
STORM Coalition (Save The Oak Ridges Morraine)
Wikipedia Smart Growth | (more)

USA & Worldwide
Smart Growth Network
Stop Sprawl
Sprawl Watch

More Growth & Sprawl Organization & Links | Urban & Regional Planning
Wikipedia on Urban Sprawl | related articles

Preservation of Agricultural Land

Living With The Land
Preservation of Agricultural Lands Society
Ontario Farmland Conservation Forum (participants)
National Farmers Union
Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario
Organic/Sustainable Agriculture
Community Supported Agriculture
Erosion, Technology & Concentration
Ontario Farmland Trust
How to Preserve and Protect the Land you Love

Conservation & Stewardship

Federation of Ontario Naturalists
Conservation Ontario (network of Conservation Authorities)
Stewardship Councils (across Ontario)
Seeds of Diversity
Soil Stewardship
Erosion, Technology & Concentration
Ontario Environment Network
Conservation Council of Ontario
Conservation links:
Stewardship links:
How to Preserve and Protect the Land you Love

Land Trusts

What is a Land Trust?
Canadian Land Trust Alliance
Ontario Land Trust Alliance
Ontario Farmland Trust
Canadian Land Trust Directory
Oak Ridges Morraine Land Trust, near Toronto
Community Land Trusts , google search "community land trusts"
United States Land Trust Alliance
Wikipedia article on Land Trusts
How to Preserve and Protect the Land you Love

Sustainable Community Planning & Design

Livable Communities
Walkable Communities
Sustainable Communities
Healthy Communities Coalition
Planners Network
Planning Action
Conservation Development | google search "conservation development"
Alternative Communities incl. Cohousing & Ecovillages
Global Ecovillage Network |

Sustainable Food & Agriculture

Organic & Sustainable Food & Agriculture Directory
Organic Advocates
Canadian Organic Growers
Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario
Community Supported Agriculture
Seeds of Diversity
How to Preserve and Protect the Land you Love

Land Conservation Conferences & Events

Note: this section is only updated occasionally . . .
For up-to-date listings please see the
People & Planet Calendar.

Editor's note: We are preserving significant past events on this page for their value in networking, links, and ideas for future events. For more current events, see also our continuously updated on-line calendar and the links listed above. See also our extensive directory of organic/sustainable agriculture websites, organizations, opportunities, resources and events.


Local Alternatives to the Corporate Menu, Thurs Oct 12, 2000, 6:30 & 7:30-9:30pm, Toronto. 6:30 Alternative Marketplace; 7:30 Forum. We live in a global economy that brings food from around the world. But what is the impact of importing vast quantities of food - on our health, on our environment, on farmers ...and on society? Follow the trail of a tomato as it travels from Mexican field to Canadian table. Deborah Barndt's photo-documentary tells the story of the people whose lives are touched by this incredible journey. Community leaders across the country are searching for innovative solutions to the global food system. Join us as we discuss how to ensure access to safe & healthy food for all. Before the Forum, visit the alternative marketplace featuring business & organizations providing alternative choices for urban consumers. With Deborah Barndt (FES, York), Marie Burge (Cooper Institute, PEI), Anan Lololie (Afri-can Food Basket), Debbie Field (FoodShare Toronto), Wayne Roberts (Toronto Food Policy Council, co-author of Real Food for a Change). Free. St. Lawrence Centre, 27 Front St. E. (subway: King or Union Station) More info: Lauren 416-363-6441 x25 or 416-366-1656 Related sites: Deborah Barndt's books: (click on "Barndt, Deborah) Excerpt:


Globalization, Food & The Environment - Grassroots Responses, Fri-Sat Feb 2-3, Peterborough. Panel (Fri 7:30-9:30pm): Brewster Kneen (author of Farmageddon); Stephen Strauss (science writer & member of the editorial board of the Globe & Mail, author of the forthcoming book Pigging Out); Bryan Welsh (Concerned Citizens for Our Environment, fighting the establishment of mega-farms in Peterborough County); Joan Smith (organic farmer from Warsaw, Ontario & long-time family- farm activist). Education/Action Workshops (Sat Feb 3: 9:30am- 1:30pm): Genetically-Modified Foods; Organic Farming; Megafarm Mobilization - with the previous evening's speakers & local resource people (sign up Friday night or pre-register). Champlain College, Trent University (Council Chambers - follow the signs upon entering main campus). Free; child-care; all welcome. More info: Adele Finney 705-748-1680

Farm Crisis - The Extractive Nature of the Global Agriculture Economy, Thurs Feb 22, 2001, 8pm, Brockville. With Darrin Qualman, National Farmers Union Executive Secretary, Researcher, Writer & Saskatoon farmer. Spring Valley Community Hall, 4103 Highway 29, north of Brockville. 306-652-9465

New Agriculture in the Urban Shadow, Fri Mar 23, 2001, 7:30-10pm, Alton. While some farmers continue to look to government to bail them out, others have begun to seek a new model for agriculture in the urban shadow. Ken McMullen will tell us of is experiences as an organic farmer and explain where he believes future agricultural opportunities lie. His views are sure to contradict those of conventional famers and stretch the ideas of local residents who don't think much about where their food comes from. All welcome; especially welcome ar farmers & others in the agricultural sector. $5. SGI Centre, 20490 Highway 136 (Porterfield Road) 4km N. of Alton More info: Nicola Ross 519-927-0548 (Caledon Countryside Alliance)

Food & Globalization: On The Tomato Trail, Mon Mar 26, 2001, 7:30-9pm, Toronto. Workshop & photography display exploring the life cycle of a Mexican Tomato (from Mexican field to Canadian table); illustrating the effects of global trade on women workers & their environments; stories of real women who come into contact with the global tomato in their daily labours; effects of globalization on corporations. With Deborah Barndt, professor of Environmental Studies at York Univ., editor of the book "Women Working the NAFTA Foodchain: Women,
Food, and Globalization" (1999). By donation. Women's Month at Grassroots Environmental Products, 372 Danforth (Chester subway). Info/register: 416-944-1993. Deborah Barndt's books: (click on "Barndt, Deborah) Excerpt:

Community Shared Agriculture, Tues Apr 10, 2001, 7pm, Hamilton. Local initiatives; the workings of community shared agriculture (CSA); more. With organic farmers & practitioners of community shared agriculture from Garden Cycles & Plan B Organic Farms in Dundas. Free/donation. Hamilton Central Library. Events hotline: 905-525-9140 x27090.

Spaghetti or Sprawl? Sat May 5, 2001, 6pm, Hamilton. Spaghetti supper fundraiser for three orgs fighting urban sprawl & the re-zoning of land from prime agricultural to residential & commercial. We're up against developers with deep pockets, not to mention a municipal government that has already allocated $250,000 to the fight. St. Paul's Anglican Church, 1140 King W., Hamilton. Doors 6pm, dinner 7pm. $15. Reserve: Lynda 905-560-1177 [ ]

Sprawl vs. Habitat: Engineers, Thurs May 10, 2001, 7pm, Richmond Hill. Public Forum with the Professional Engineers of Ontario (York Chapter). With Mike Colle MPP; Brian Denney (P.Eng., Toronto Region Conservation Authority); Mori Mortazavi (P.Eng., Peto MacCullum Ltd.); Leonard Munt (B.Sc., York Region); Douglas Wells (B.Sc., York Region, Greening Project). Land development should be performed in consideration of local environmental characteristics. Sustainable economical developments normally incorporate preservation of the environment. Share info on existing programs & exchange ideas. Minimizing the effect of land development on the environment; environmental conservation programs; remedial work; engineering & scientific methods. Free, all welcome. Richmond Hill Central Library. Info: Dr. Eric Nejat, P.Eng. 905-737-0904

Agricultural Land Policy: Debating The Alternatives, Thurs June 7, 2001, 4-6:30pm, Toronto. Public forum with Christopher Bryant, Charlotte McCallum, Margaret Walton. City of Toronto Archives Auditorium, 255 Spadina Rd. (one block north of Dupont subway). (printed notes from this event will be available for a few dollars)

Public Choices: The Dynamics of Sprawl, Thurs Sept 13, 2001, 9pm and Fri Sept 14, 1pm, Radio & TV broadcast. Live discussion with a panel of urban development experts, broadcasting live from Buffalo. Social, environmental, economic choices and opportunities. WNED PBS TV (channel 17/cable 18 in Toronto), Thurs Sept 13, 9pm and WNED Radio 970 AM, Fri Sept 14, 1pm.

Tour de Sprawl, Wed Nov 14, 2001, 9am-1:30pm, Toronto. The Sierra Club's Tour de Sprawl comes to the Greater Toronto Area to highlight the costs of suburban sprawl development. A rented coach will take media guests and a panel of urban planning experts to sprawl hotspots in the Toronto area. Speakers on the tour include Mike Colle, MPP, Marilyn Churley, MPP, and Erin Shapero, Markham town councillor. The tour will begin at the St. Lawrence Market neighborhood, where residents don't have to rely on cars for getting to work, schools and to run errands. We will wend our way past the worst intersection in the GTA to a sprawling subdivision in Vaughan far from transit. After a stop at a King City organic farm threatened by the extension of York-Durham's big sewer pipe, the tour will drop riders off at Union Station and the market. Info/register: Janet Pelley 416-538-2856


Land Trusts & The Natural Step, Mon Jan 28, 2002, 7:30pm, Guelph. With Steve Hounsell on the Natural Step (TNS) and how it relates to natural areas protection by land trusts in Ontario. Mr Hounsell is Federation of Ontario Naturalists (FON) Director; The Natural Step Canada (TNS) Director; Biologist & Manager of Ontario Power Generation (OPG) Carbon Sequestration, Biodiversity Policy and Biodiversity Management Program. All welcome. Univ. of Guelph, UC Room 430. Info: C. Brad Peterson 519-763-5260 (Speed River Land Trust) [topical links: ]

Agricultural Challenges, Tues Feb 26, 2002, 7-9pm, Guelph. Open forum to discuss challenges to young farmers or persons entering the agricultural industry, and to encourage their involvement in farm organizations. Family farming, sustainable communities, biotechnology, GMOs, industrial agriculture, more. With Elisa Vander Hout (National Farmers Union ), Jack Wilkinson (Ont. Federation of Agriculture ), Rob Wallbridge (Ecological Farmers Assoc. ), Charlotte McCallum (Christian Farmers Federation ). Free. Univ. of Guelph, Peter Clark Hall. Info: Leanne McIntyre 519-822-9399 (Sustainable Agriculture Forum )

Ontario Farmland Conservation Forum, Sat Apr 20, 2002, 9am-5pm, Campbellville/Milton. Every year thousands of acres of Ontario's prime agricultural lands go out of production. How can we save these farmlands? Leaders and other members of the farming and land conservation communities are meeting to discuss the creation of an Ontario Farmland Trust. Workshop discussions: How can farming and conservationist groups work together to meet common goals and save farmland? How can we accommodate urban infrastructure without losing valuable farmland? What are the legal and financial implications of setting up a farmland trust? What farmland trust model(s) would work best in different parts of Ontario? How can land use planning help? Summary session: What should be done next to create a farmland trust? How can we take those steps over the coming months? Keynote: Guy Greenaway (Southern Alberta Land Trust Society, one of Canada's few farmland trusts. Mountsberg Conservation Area, Halton Region, Milborough Line, 5 km west of Campbellville, off Hwy 401 (near Milton, between Toronto & Guelph). $35 incl lunch. Info: Centre for Land & Water Stewardship |

Challenge To Sprawl, Wed May 15, 2002, 7-9pm, Toronto. How to preserve farmland and stop suburban sprawl. Kathryn Dean (coordinator, Ontario Farmland Conservation Forum) will explain how land trusts can help stop the paving of our class 1 farmland. Also, Mary Imm (York Univ.) will summarizing successful smart growth laws in Canada, the U.S. and Europe. Followed by discussion. Free. Metro Hall room 303, 55 John at King (St. Andrew subway). Info: Janet Pelley 416-538-2856

Sustainable Design, Building & Land Use, May 31 - Jun 21, 2002, Vermont. Using the Institute for Social Ecology's 50-acre site as a laboratory, this program explores the history of agriculture, social ecology and design, organic agriculture, appropriate technology, alternative building, permaculture, ecological restoration and more. tel. 802-454-8493

Ontario Land Trust Alliance Conference, Fri-Sun Oct 4-6, 2002, Parry Sound. A land trust is a non-government, non-profit, community based organization established to protect land & water resources for the public benefit. Most often, the resources under protection have natural, recreational, scenic or historic value. When used in this way, the term "trust" means the resource is made permanently safe against harmful uses. Workshops include: strategic property acquisition; tax implications of gift giving; steps to building a successful small land trust; property management / good stewardship; fundraising; conservation easements; more. Ontario Land Trust Alliance

Smart Communities Workshops & Book Launch, Thurs Nov 7, 2002, 6:30pm, Oakville. Worried about urban sprawl ruining natural areas and farmland? Tired of smog alerts and daily traffic jams? Want to learn more about protecting nature and curbing sprawl? "Smart growth" has gained momentum in both the US & Canada. It involves practical tools & strategies to curb urban sprawl and protect nature. Smart growth relies on the participation of local residents in helping to shape their future communities. Come to this workshop to hear how you can get involved! Participants will receive a free copy of our new book, "A Smart Future for Ontario: How to Protect Nature and Curb Sprawl in Your Community" which outlines effective strategies for Ontarians to promote smart growth at both the local and provincial level. Hear about sprawl pressures in Oakville and see real-life examples of smart communities. Come to the open house before the workshop for great smart-growth displays and take-home materials. Free admission. Additional smart community workshops coming (late 2002 / early 2003): Durham Region, Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph, Hamilton, more: Federation of Ontario Naturalists

Additional Smart Community Workshops (late 2002 / early 2003): Durham Region, Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph, Hamilton, more. Federation of Ontario Naturalists

Beyond Factory Farming, Fri-Sat Nov 8-9, 2002, Saskatoon. National conference on factory farming/intensive livestock operations. Info: Rick Sawa (306) 978-5308 [topical links: ]

A.D. Latornell Conservation Symposium, Wed-Fri Nov 13-15, 2002, Alliston. One of Ontario's leading conservation conferences. Conservation In Action: Crossing Boundaries and Connecting Communities. The need for watershed managers and community organizations to cross the different jurisdictional and political boundaries in the province and manage our resources on the basis of natural boundaries such as watersheds. $190-$505. Nottawasaga Inn & Conference Centre, 6015 Highway 89. Info: Kim Geddes, Conference Coordinator 416-864-9027 905-895-0716 x22

Annual Rural-Urban Conference, Sat Nov 16, 2002, 1:30-5pm, London. (1) Farming & Food - examining the policies ahead for canadian agriculture, with Wayne Easter, M.P., an eloquent spokesperson for the family farm and Canadian food. (2) Water - Free to Trade, but at what cost? with Tony Clarke (author of "Blue Gold"). Registration begins 1pm. $10/$12. King's College Lecture Theatre, Epworth St. Info: Catholic Rural Life Conference Office 519-683-1008 [ ]


Introduction to Ecological Agriculture, various dates & locations around Ontario. Meet the environmental challenge head-on while reducing costs & increasing profits. Instructors are practicing ecological farmers. Soil ecology, manure management, crop rotation, weed control, livestock management, more. $130. More info: Ontario Agricultural Training Institute 416-485-5661 1-800-668-6284 [also: Ecological Farmers Association Of Ontario 519-335-3357 ] Or, facilitate the course yourself at a time and location convenient for you:

Smart Community Workshops (late 2002 / early 2003): Durham Region, Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph, Hamilton, more. Federation of Ontario Naturalists [see Nov 2002 listing, above]

Green Communities Conference, Thurs Jan 30 - Sat Feb 1, 2003, Ottawa. Come and share experiences with your colleagues in communities across Canada. Get new ideas! Get regenerated! Hone your skills! Help build the Green Communities movement! At the Monterey Inn. $100 incl. meals & accom. Info: (705) 745-7479

Community Design Forum, Wed Apr 9, 2003, 4-6:30pm, Toronto. GTA Forum, all welcome. At the Toronto Archives Auditorium, 255 Spadina Rd., one block north of Dupont subway. Printed notes from this forum will be available by mail and at local libraries. Info: Frances Frisken 416-480-2313

Changing Urban Form in the New Suburbia (all day tour), Fri May 16, 2003, 4-6:30pm, Toronto. With Alex Taranu, Senior Planner Urban Design, Town of Markham and other speakers t.b.a. Info: Frances Frisken 416-480-2313

Water Stewardship: How Are We Managing? June 11-13, 2003, Vancouver. Land use changes as a result of urban, forestry, power, mining and agricultural use of our watersheds have placed increasing stress to the point where the quantity and quality of our supply sources have been called into question or compromised. Transboundary issues; groundwater; aquatic habitat; watershed management; source protection; stormwater management; floodplain management; legislation, liability and policy; monitoring; water supply. Annual conference of the Canadian Water Resources Association. A forum for exchange of knowledge & discussion of important issues pertaining to the usage of our water resources.

Stewardship & Conservation in Canada - National Conference, July 3 - 6, 2003, Victoria, British Columbia. Following the success of Canada’s first national stewardship conference, Caring for our Land and Water held June, 2000 in Guelph, Ontario, a second national gathering of Canada’s stewardship and conservation communities is now being planned for July 2003 at the University of Victoria. Info: Sheila Harrington 250-538-0112 (click on "The Leading Edge: Stewardship and Conservation in Canada"


Farmland Preservation Conference & Launch of Ontario Farmland Trust, University of Guelph, Mon. & Tues., June 28-29, 2004. We invite your participation in a two day conference this spring, to launch the Ontario Farmland Trust and discuss the challenging issues around farmland preservation in the Canadian, and especially the Ontario context.
* What are the related issues that are important to you and your organization?
* Is there specific program content that you would suggest?
* Do you have suggestions for key speakers we should invite?
* Can you suggest other individuals or organizations we should contact to participate?
* Do you want to join our mailing list, or help with the conference?
* Would your organization consider becoming a sponsor of the conference?
Did you know? Only 0.5% of Canada's land is class one farmland, and over half of this is in southern Ontario. ALL of the best two 'agro-climatic' land zones are in southern Ontario. From 70 to 85% of the land being urbanized in southern Ontario is class 1 land. Conference Topics:
* How can we protect farmers and farm families and their livelihoods?
* How can we ensure future local urban food supply and food security?
* How can we avoid urban sprawl and have 'smart growth'?
* What alternative policies might help protect farmland?
* What is a land trust and a conservation easement?
* How much farmland are we losing, how fast?
Contact Peter Mitchell or Melissa Watkins, Ontario Farmland Trust/Farmland Preservation Research Project, Centre for Land and Water Stewardship, University of Guelph. Phone: 519-824-4120 Ext. 52686 (Melissa) or 58329 (Peter) Email:
Website: | |
Project Directors and Conference Chairs: Dr. Stewart Hilts and Dr. Wayne

Note: this section is only updated occasionally . . .
For up-to-date listings please see the


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