Junior Farmers are still strong in Eastern Ontario. The Stormont-Glengarry Junior Farmers club has traditionally focused on those two counties, but young people aged 16 to 29 who live in neighbouring counties are eligible join, and members do not have to even be farmers!
“Anybody that is wanting to join is more than welcome to,” said Stormont-Glengarry Junior Farmers President Sydney Carson.
All local clubs are part of the Junior Farmers Association of Ontario (JFAO). Junior Farmers began nearly 80 years ago as a way of developing leadership skills among young people in rural and agricultural communities. In addition to social activities and community service, the JFAO offers a series of leadership training opportunities and events across the province. There are presently 16 active local Junior Farmers clubs across Ontario. The number has fluctuated over the years with clubs sometimes disbanding and then reactivating.
“We’re trying to get out there and get involved,” said Carson.
In June, the club is organizing a post-planting party for its members to relax after the busy planting season. During the height of the COVID-19 restrictions, the club stayed active in the community, doing roadside cleanup through the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry’s (SDG) Adopt-a-Road Program along County Road 20 between Maxville and Dominionville. The Stormont-Glengarry club also partners with SDG on the Emily Project which provides 911 emergency numbers to undeveloped rural agricultural or forest properties. The Junior Farmers volunteer to install the signage for property owners. The club also distributes road safety stickers to increase awareness about regular vehicles sharing roads with farm equipment.
One of the Stormont-Glengarry Junior Farmers’ fun and creative fundraisers is where club members place plastic flamingoes on someone’s front yard and the property owner makes a donation to the club to have them removed. Proceeds from the flamingo removal go to Junior Farmers bursaries or the cost of sending club members to JFAO leadership camp.
The Stormont-Glengarry Junior Farmers have monthly meetings, which sometimes include tours of different farms around the area. Carson, who grew up near Listowel, west of Toronto, said involvement helped her become familiar with her new community in Eastern Ontario.
“The reason I joined Junior Farmers is to meet more people in the area,” Carson said.
Sometimes, the Stormont-Glengarry club will hold events with the Carleton-Renfrew club, which is one of the other two Junior Farmers Clubs in the JFAO Eastern Zone.