The following article and accompanying images were submitted to JSC for publication by Sarah Dolamore, Farm Manager at Mount Wolfe Farm, Caledon.
Photo above: Members of the Orr Family; Peter, Neil, Mary, and Dean.
I’m sure by now most of you know about the proposed 400 series highway that would cut through portions of Halton, King, Vaughan and the entire southern section of the Town of Caledon. As a young farmer and climate-focused Caledon resident I’m raising awareness for how and why this highway would negatively impact our collective GTA ‘foodshed’ (think like a watershed for bodies of water, but for the food that reaches our tables).
I want to share the perspective of my friend and fellow young farmer Dean Orr who we met at the Bolton Farmers Market where he was just starting out selling syrup and pumpkins. I’ve been a keen observer and supporter of his goal of transitioning his family’s conventional field cropping operation into an ecological/certified organic farm business. I knew of his opposition to the proposed 413 highway, and it was just recently, from an Instagram posting (@millvalleyfarm) where he elaborated that a significant portion of the land they rent to farm is directly in the path of the proposed highway.
His father’s best piece of farmland, Dean’s parcel just recently certified (no small feat), their entire maple syrup sugarbush, and two additional fields would all be lost to expropriation. Because they rent the land, one can foresee how, without access to these pieces of land they’ve been caring for and stewarding with devotion, their farm business as it stands today could disintegrate with the stroke of a politician’s pen.
Basically, Dean’s livelihood and that of his family’s future in farming is in peril. And Dean’s story is not an isolated one as I’m sure there are many other farming families across King, Vaughan, Halton, and Caledon whose farmland and livelihoods are also in danger of being destroyed and their stories and experiences erased from the rural landscape entirely.
It’s my hope that after reading this account, you are moved to take action to support those opposing the highway. Please talk with your friends, neighbours, and fellow citizens and your local councillors. The ripple effect resulting from the loss of this arable land to make way for the pavement of future warehouses/urban sprawl will erode our ability to feed ourselves writ large.
That, and the injustice of losing precious remaining wildlife habitat necessary for ecological integrity, keeps us vocal and persistent in opposition to this proposed highway; please add your voice and presence at the 413 Day of Action on November 13th at the four corners of downtown Bolton. When I sent this piece to Dean for verification he contributed an additional predictive editorial, so I’ll let him have the last word.
“I think what concerns me as much as having our business get pushed into a corner is that it says a lot about the provincial government’s approach to food security. All that land that is in the proposed highway as well as what is being developed in the GTA is great farmland and habitat, but it’s also the farmland and habitat closest to Toronto and the rest of the GTA. The government and local municipalities seem to be okay with building [negative] equity in the form of food insecurity and instability. Not to mention a reduction in the ecological systems that allow us to do our jobs. They are setting [us] up for a real disaster.” – Dean Orr, October 27, 2021