Preserving Rich, Agricultural Land in the Greenbelt
Ontario Farmland Trust Secures First Conservation Easement
OFT News Release
Guelph, Ontario – The Ontario Farmland Trust (OFT) has completed its first land securement
project. The OFT, a not-for-profit organization that promotes the preservation of farmland in the
province, has secured the long-term protection of Belain Farm in Caledon, part of Ontario’s
Greenbelt. This was made possible through the donation of a conservation easement by Deirdre
Wright, using a portion of a $75,000 grant from the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation to
support the creation of four farmland conservation easements in or adjacent to the Greenbelt.
Tomorrow, Bruce Mackenzie, Executive Director of the organization, will recognize the donation
in an Appreciation Ceremony on the property near Belfountain, 40 minutes northeast of Guelph
(see below for location and time).
Belain Farm has been a working farm for more than 30 years. This 97-acre property includes
40-acres of leased agricultural land which have been used to grow corn, soy beans and wheat.
Eleven acres adjacent to the house and farm buildings are fenced open areas used to graze
horses. The property also contains twenty-two acres of mature hardwood forest, as well as
provincially significant wetlands. The natural areas provide diverse habitats for wildlife, including
some threatenened and endangered species such as Henslow's Sparrow and Monarch
“Ontario is indebted to individuals like Deirdre Wright, whose concern for what the landscape
will look like in the future has translated into action. Mrs. Wright’s foresight and generosity will
ensure that farmland and greenspace are protected in perpetuity - good news for agriculture
and the environment,” says Mackenzie.
Mrs. Wright has owned the property since 1965 and has lived on it since 1970. The
conservation agreement between Mrs. Wright and Ontario Farmland Trust ensures that the land
currently used for agricultural purposes will continue to be available for agriculture. The
agreement also guarantees the conservation and maintenance of the natural features and
wildlife of the property.
Credit Valley Conservation (CVC), which is partnering with the Farmland Trust on this project,
will assist with future stewardship and monitoring of the property. CVC has over 20 years of
involvement with the property and drew up the original conservation plan for Belain Farm.
The OFT is the province’s only agricultural land trust. Since its inception in 2004, the
organization has responded to numerous requests from private landowners interested in
agricultural easements or land donations. Belain Farm is one of four properties that Ontario
Farmland Trust is currently working to protect.
Belain Farm is located within Ontario’s Greenbelt and is designated as 2/3 Natural Heritage and
1/3 Protected Countryside.
“Protecting agricultural land through projects like this is what Ontario’s Greenbelt is all about.
Ontarians agree with the importance of land protection. In an Environics poll earlier this year
87% of Ontarians agreed that preserving agricultural land is a benefit of the Greenbelt that is
important to them,” said Burkhard Mausberg, President of the Friends of the Greenbelt
Foundation. “We’re glad to be a part of such a project that benefits all Ontarians and reflects the
values of the Greenbelt.”
Wrapping around the Golden Horseshoe, the Greenbelt is 1.8 million acres encompassing the
Niagara Escarpment, the Oak Ridges Moraine, Rouge Park, hundreds of rural towns and
villages, and some 7,100 farms. Ontario's Greenbelt is the largest and most diverse in the world
providing clean water, fresh air and healthy local food.
Although the concept of preserving woodlands or wetlands is not new, the idea of private
landowners taking an active role to conserve their agricultural land from development is. In
general, landowners can either donate their farmland to a trust, or the trust can purchase a
property to protect it and then make it available to farmers. Another option available to
landowners is an easement such as the one between Mrs. Wright and Ontario Farmland Trust.
This voluntary legal agreement outlines permitted and restricted uses of a farm, allowing the
owner to maintain ownership but ensuring the land will not be developed, even when it is willed
or sold to new owners.
Interest in farmland trusts will continue to grow as the amount of prime farmland decreases,
primarily due to urban sprawl. Only 11% of Canadian land is suitable for agricultural use and a
mere one half of 1% is optimal class one land. Ontario contains 52% of all class one farmland in
the country. Since the 1950’s, however, fertile regions such as southern and central Ontario
have seen significant losses in the amount of available farmland, losing 13% and 49%
Date/Time - Thursday, August 20, 11 A.M.
Location - Deirdre Wright Property
18101 Shaws Creek Road
Belfountain, Ontario L0K 0E8
Town of Caledon, Region of Peel
Media and public welcome.
For more information contact:
Bruce Mackenzie, Executive Director
Ontario Farmland Trust
(519) 824-4120 ext. 52686
(519) 830-3773 (cell phone)
Founded in 2004, the Ontario Farmland Trust is a registered Canadian not-for-profit
organization whose mission it is to protect and preserve farmland and the associated
agricultural, natural and cultural features in the countryside. Their goal is to do research and
educate people to further the preservation of these lands for the benefit of current and future
generations. Their vision is for an Ontario that includes a healthy and vibrant agricultural
landscape that provides a safe and local supply of food for all Ontarians now and in the future