Migrating Mennonites: Understanding the motivations of new Anabaptist farmers in northern Ontario and the impacts of traditional farming knowledge on food security

Authors: Sara Epp*, University of Guelph
Topics: Rural Geography, Agricultural Geography, Canada
Keywords: rural, agriculture, northern Ontario, Anabaptist, Mennonites
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Balcony M, Marriott, River Tower Elevators, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

As the cost of farmland in southern Ontario continues to increase and farmers are unable to expand their farms or purchase new land, many are seeking alternate locations suitable for agriculture. Northern Ontario, with an abundance of productive, less expensive land, has proven to be an opportune location for many farmers. Over the past fifteen years, a significant movement of Anabaptist farmers, particularly Amish and Old Order Mennonites, to northern Ontario has occurred. These farmers have increased access to local food, broadened the productive spectrum of crops and improved food security for many communities. Their economic and social impacts on northern communities has been significant, as has their impact on the broader farm community. Utilizing traditional agrarian practices with limited modern technology, Anabaptist farmers have significantly broadened the agricultural landscape and challenged prevailing stereotypes of agricultural viability in the north. As the potential movement of more Anabaptist farmers to northern Ontario is likely, it is important to understand their motivations to farm in the north and their role in creating a sustainable and secure food system in remote areas. This presentation will explore the role of Anabaptist social networks in facilitating the migration to northern Ontario and the impacts of traditional knowledge in the establishment of viable farm endeavours in remote and geographically challenging landscapes. Linkages between the establishment of these Anabaptist communities and improvements to food security in northern Ontario will also be presented.

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