Our new Executive Director: Donna Baylis

Food & Water First has a new leader! Donna Baylis is taking over from Shirley Boxem who has led our grassroots organization for nearly five years. (Thankfully, Shirley is still active with the campaign and will remain a force within the movement!) Donna has been tireless in promoting the protection of farmland and water resources, and has big plans for Food & Water First as Ontarians prepare to vote in 2018.

What’s been your involvement in Food & Water First?

I was heavily involved in the Stop the Mega Quarry fight in 2011 and 2012. I was a computer administrator, and spent the summers at farmers’ markets, art shows and festivals raising awareness. Foodstock and Soupstock were massive events and I was there for both of them, though I admit I spent most of the time talking!

What are your greatest concerns?

We are losing 175 acres of farmland per day in Ontario which means we stand to lose two million acres by the year 2050. As our population grows, how can we ensure food security? As well, Ontario’s water sources are not properly protected. It’s simple. We all must eat and drink to survive. We have to consider what the future looks like for us and our children. When it comes to food and water, that conversation must start today.

What’s in store for Food & Water First over the next year?

I want Food & Water First to stimulate the conversation about these resources as Ontarians gear up to vote in the election next June. We need to hear our politicians acknowledge and act on the need to preserve the only soil that can grow our food and the water that sustains us. The focus of Food & Water First over the next nine months will be “Election 2018” and ensuring those participating in it address our concerns.

For more information or to start the conversation contact

New Quarry Application: Bonnefield responds

Nearly five years after the defeat of the proposed Highland Mega Quarry, a new application has been filed with the provincial government for a quarry expansion that involves some of the farmland saved by our grassroots movement. This news raised concerns that the land we fought so hard to protect may be at risk again. However, we have been assured this is not the case.

The application has been filed by Strada Aggregates which wants to expand its existing open-pit operation in Dufferin County. It has an option to purchase a 50-acre parcel of land from Bonnefield Financial, the investment firm that bought 6,500-acres of prime farmland from the Boston hedge fund behind the Mega Quarry proposal. A report in the Orangeville Banner, caused consternation among those in the community who had fought the proposed Mega Quarry.

After the article appeared, the president of Bonnefield, Tom Eisenhauer, released a statement which has been sent to the Orangeville Banner. Take a moment to read it. He explains that the 50-acre parcel is surrounded on three sides by the existing quarry and was offered to local farmers to lease but they did not find it suitable. Tom Eisenhauer also states:

“We have worked hard to develop an open and transparent relationship with our neighbours in Dufferin County and we remain true to our central mission of protecting farming for farmland. I hope that readers of the Orangeville Banner will not be left with an impression to the contrary.”

We thank Bonnefield for its continued support in our quest to save the land that feeds us.




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