Township of Douro-Dummer Agricultural Community Workshop

Situated in the Township of Douro-Drummer, this case study describes a project to host a workshop for the local agricultural community on how to adapt to and prepare for drought conditions brought on as a result of climate change. The study was led in 2018 by ICLEI Canada. Over 15 partners, mostly in local agriculture, were engaged in this project. The project consisted of a workshop for the agricultural community intended as a learning and networking opportunity to introduce new ideas and technology in adaptation and provide access to educational tools that comprise of up-to-date information that was both feasible and easily accessible. Survey results from workshop attendees determined that most attendees were interested in further learning and engagement opportunities about climate change across Canada or locally and that the topics they would be most interested in included: sustainable farming best-practices, soil, and technology on the farm.

Understanding and Assessing Impacts

The Township of Douro-Dummer has experienced the compounding impacts of climate change on its natural, built, social, and economic systems. Having a largely agricultural community, the Township is particularly sensitive to changes in precipitation, water quantity, and water quality. The Township has heard concerns from the community about drought and limited access to water supply due to extreme heat throughout the year. The agricultural community was significantly affected by a drought in 2016 which led to water shortage and crop damage. In response, Douro-Dummer decided to host a workshop for the agricultural community on how to adapt to and prepare for drought conditions. The workshop was intended to be both a learning and a networking opportunity for local farmers and members of the agricultural community. The aim was to introduce them to new ideas and technology in adaptation and provide access to educational tools that comprise of up-to-date information that is both feasible and easily accessible. The full-day workshop hosted several subject matter experts, vendors, and speakers, including representatives from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), biologists, conservation authorities, and local organizations such as Agricorp. Additionally, information from farmers was gathered to help inform current conditions and vulnerabilities of the agricultural community. Farmers were asked if they experienced any water shortages or concerns and how they typically dealt with these issues.

Identifying Actions

Planning of the workshop began in late 2016 as part of the Collaborative Implementation Group project. Township staff worked together to design the concept of the workshop and then began inviting vendors, speakers, and attendees. By leveraging existing contacts from academic institutions, the Provincial government, and local members of the agricultural community, speakers were invited to actively participate in the workshop. To secure attendees from the target audience (local farmers), the project lead contacted local organizations and asked them to reach out and invite their members to attend the workshop. Much of the marketing was done through word of mouth and visiting farms and organizations. Municipal partners were told about the workshop and asked to share the event with their staff and anyone interested in their own networks. Prior to the workshop, materials were gathered, and multiple planning meetings were held. Communications and announcements about the workshop were made through various means including word of mouth, social media platforms, posters, emailing to networks, and Eventbrite registration. The workshop was held on March 1, 2017 from 9-3pm at the Douro-Dummer Community Centre. After the workshop, an exit survey was conducted to evaluate the success of the workshop and determine interest in a second workshop to take place in 2018.

Implementation

The workshop represents a capacity-building and educational exercise that was undertaken on how to adapt to and prepare for drought conditions within the agricultural sector. The aim was to introduce them to new ideas and technology in adaptation and provide access to educational tools that comprise of up-to-date information that is both feasible and easily accessible. The full-day workshop hosted several subject matter experts, vendors, and speakers, including representatives from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), biologists, conservation authorities, and local organizations such as Agricorp.

Outcomes and Monitoring Progress

The Township received a great deal of positive feedback from the workshop. It was very well attended, and attendees reported feeling very informed. Post-event surveys demonstrated that participants were thankful for the information they received and that they would like to know more about sustainable farming best practices at the next workshop or re-engagement opportunity. Survey responses also determined several positive outcomes from the workshop: Most attendees would be interested in receiving more information on learning and engagement opportunities including information about climate change, drought, and extreme weather across Canada or locally; Attendees decided that the best time to hold a second workshop would be in February/March 2018; The topics they would be most interested in learning about include sustainable farming best-practices, soil, and technology on the farm.

The outcomes of the workshop were centered around participant and partner feedback, in hopes of establishing a network within the agricultural community and hosting more events in the future. Moving forward, attendance at future workshops and community participation would be monitored. Township staff also intend to follow up with members of the agricultural community to determine whether they have implemented new strategies learned at previous workshops. The Township also hopes to gain a better understanding of participants’ impressions of climate change and how these change as more events are hosted. Entrance and exit surveys will continue to be used to determine the impact of the workshops and to make improvements to future workshops.

The main challenges experienced with planning and delivering the workshop were limited resources and timeline issues with regards to avoiding the busy season for farmers (from Spring to freeze-up). This concern was highlighted when planning future workshops to reengage the community, other projects, etc., as it will likely be during peak season for the agricultural sector.

Next Steps

The project leads found the workshop framework to be quite successful for disseminating information about climate change to large groups of local stakeholders. As such, there is interest in engaging municipal staff for a training workshop on climate change in fall of 2018. Since there is also a continued interest by the agricultural community to learn more, a second workshop will be planned on a preferred topic such as sustainable farming best practices. The Township hopes to include this newly established network of agricultural community members in contributing to the ongoing Climate Change Action Plan being developed with the Greater Peterborough Area. Workshop attendees will likely have the ability to contribute their thoughts on climate change impacts and adaptation actions to improve resilience in the agricultural sector.

Resources


Understanding and Assessing Impacts

The Township of Douro-Dummer has experienced the compounding impacts of climate change on its natural, built, social, and economic systems. Having a largely agricultural community, the Township is particularly sensitive to changes in precipitation, water quantity, and water quality. The Township has heard concerns from the community about drought and limited access to water supply due to extreme heat throughout the year. The agricultural community was significantly affected by a drought in 2016 which led to water shortage and crop damage. In response, Douro-Dummer decided to host a workshop for the agricultural community on how to adapt to and prepare for drought conditions. The workshop was intended to be both a learning and a networking opportunity for local farmers and members of the agricultural community. The aim was to introduce them to new ideas and technology in adaptation and provide access to educational tools that comprise of up-to-date information that is both feasible and easily accessible. The full-day workshop hosted several subject matter experts, vendors, and speakers, including representatives from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), biologists, conservation authorities, and local organizations such as Agricorp. Additionally, information from farmers was gathered to help inform current conditions and vulnerabilities of the agricultural community. Farmers were asked if they experienced any water shortages or concerns and how they typically dealt with these issues.

Identifying Actions

Planning of the workshop began in late 2016 as part of the Collaborative Implementation Group project. Township staff worked together to design the concept of the workshop and then began inviting vendors, speakers, and attendees. By leveraging existing contacts from academic institutions, the Provincial government, and local members of the agricultural community, speakers were invited to actively participate in the workshop. To secure attendees from the target audience (local farmers), the project lead contacted local organizations and asked them to reach out and invite their members to attend the workshop. Much of the marketing was done through word of mouth and visiting farms and organizations. Municipal partners were told about the workshop and asked to share the event with their staff and anyone interested in their own networks. Prior to the workshop, materials were gathered, and multiple planning meetings were held. Communications and announcements about the workshop were made through various means including word of mouth, social media platforms, posters, emailing to networks, and Eventbrite registration. The workshop was held on March 1, 2017 from 9-3pm at the Douro-Dummer Community Centre. After the workshop, an exit survey was conducted to evaluate the success of the workshop and determine interest in a second workshop to take place in 2018.

Implementation

The workshop represents a capacity-building and educational exercise that was undertaken on how to adapt to and prepare for drought conditions within the agricultural sector. The aim was to introduce them to new ideas and technology in adaptation and provide access to educational tools that comprise of up-to-date information that is both feasible and easily accessible. The full-day workshop hosted several subject matter experts, vendors, and speakers, including representatives from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), biologists, conservation authorities, and local organizations such as Agricorp.

Outcomes and Monitoring Progress

The Township received a great deal of positive feedback from the workshop. It was very well attended, and attendees reported feeling very informed. Post-event surveys demonstrated that participants were thankful for the information they received and that they would like to know more about sustainable farming best practices at the next workshop or re-engagement opportunity. Survey responses also determined several positive outcomes from the workshop: Most attendees would be interested in receiving more information on learning and engagement opportunities including information about climate change, drought, and extreme weather across Canada or locally; Attendees decided that the best time to hold a second workshop would be in February/March 2018; The topics they would be most interested in learning about include sustainable farming best-practices, soil, and technology on the farm.

The outcomes of the workshop were centered around participant and partner feedback, in hopes of establishing a network within the agricultural community and hosting more events in the future. Moving forward, attendance at future workshops and community participation would be monitored. Township staff also intend to follow up with members of the agricultural community to determine whether they have implemented new strategies learned at previous workshops. The Township also hopes to gain a better understanding of participants’ impressions of climate change and how these change as more events are hosted. Entrance and exit surveys will continue to be used to determine the impact of the workshops and to make improvements to future workshops.

The main challenges experienced with planning and delivering the workshop were limited resources and timeline issues with regards to avoiding the busy season for farmers (from Spring to freeze-up). This concern was highlighted when planning future workshops to reengage the community, other projects, etc., as it will likely be during peak season for the agricultural sector.

Next Steps

The project leads found the workshop framework to be quite successful for disseminating information about climate change to large groups of local stakeholders. As such, there is interest in engaging municipal staff for a training workshop on climate change in fall of 2018. Since there is also a continued interest by the agricultural community to learn more, a second workshop will be planned on a preferred topic such as sustainable farming best practices. The Township hopes to include this newly established network of agricultural community members in contributing to the ongoing Climate Change Action Plan being developed with the Greater Peterborough Area. Workshop attendees will likely have the ability to contribute their thoughts on climate change impacts and adaptation actions to improve resilience in the agricultural sector.

Resources