In a small farming community in Ontario, locals rally to save farmland — the only farmstead in a more than century

The upper reaches of Canada are often thought of as vast expanses of corn and wheat fields planted in the autumn and harvested in the spring, but often forgotten when it comes to the agricultural landscape is the farmsteads that surround them.

One such farmstead sits just outside of Peterborough, Ontario, in the village of Captain Jameson’s Corner, a community of around 6,000 people. Since 1915, the farmers in Captain Jameson’s Corner have been growing potatoes, onions, garlic, onions, cabbage, cauliflower, and carrots and have become a World Heritage Site for the vegetables that they grow. But this farmstead has actually been around longer than the vast majority of the crops it was instrumental in the later creation of.

For years, Captain Jameson’s Corner and its surrounding farmland have been in a state of decline. As much as 95 percent of the farms surrounding the place have shuttered in the past 15 years. The agricultural estate, farmland that once was cultivated by Frederick Douglass and George Washington, is now in a state of complete disrepair, with houses abandoned on either side of the road, piles of manure and landfills unloading fruit-packed waste into trucks.

But according to the Peterborough Examiner, the small farming community is making a small start to save what is arguably one of the most important agricultural estates in North America.

“I know in recent years there has been talk of moving the farmstead,”said Mark Sorensen, the lone farm owner left in Captain Jameson’s Corner. “It was the correct thing to do to quit farming.”

In early November, Sorensen posted an advertisement on the community’s website advertising the farm to farmers who would like to have an old farmstead ready for them to open in the spring and see the community off. “No acreage will be sold,”the advertisement read. “As long as we continue to harvest quality crops, this will be suitable to both grow and harvest. I’ve read proposals for run-down buildings and condemned buildings and nothing close to the quality of the remaining farm.”

In just two weeks the community has already responded, with 76 farmers making offers to the farm, the largest one being an offer of $200,000 for 100 acres of land.

While the accepted offer is still more than double the minimum asking price of $80,000, it is the prospect of saving the farmstead that has spurred the community to make such an offer.

“If this offer of funding is accepted, it means that most of the money is for the farmstead, and will not have to be distributed to other farms or placed on the municipal funds for general purposes,” said Keith Browning, the former project manager for the provincial agricultural board, which is set to approve the land transfer. “That would be good for the community. It would mean a lot more land available for farming.”

Up until Sorensen became the sole owner of the farmstead, many farmers had long assumed that the farm would have to be sold off to pay the bills.

In the meantime, Capt. Jameson’s Corner residents are calling the events of the past few days a thrilling one. “I am thrilled to think that the citizens of Peterborough and across southern Ontario would approve of the best 50 acres in Peterborough – a place where many people grow up, lose their roots, and then later come back to discover it for the first time,” Browning said.

“I’m excited by the fact that we can attract farmers.”

Read the full story at thePeterborough Examiner.


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