Farmers say preserving agricultural land needs to be a focus for municipal planners.
It was a message delivered during a forum Monday between more than 30 farmers, elected officials, municipal planners and organizations called “Planning Locally for the Future of Food and Farming,” hosted by Sustainable Peterborough.
Steve Duff, chief economist with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, said the Peterborough area has plenty of farmland, but much of it is not being actively used.
The discussion also focused on food insecurity and how the City of Peterorough and Peterborough County aim to balance growth while preserving agricultural land.
Erin McLean, of McLean’s Berry Farm in Buckhorn, says the forum is helping to raise awareness of concerns from farmers.
“I’m hopeful that the future of agriculture is there,” she said. “We really need to do a lot of work. People really need to understand farms and farming and their importance and why we need to value local farms.”
Peterborough city and county are currently updating their official plans and they hope to promote procurement of local food and promote sustainable food.