Welcome to the Ontario Soil Network (OSN)

At OSN, our mission is to empower Ontario's agricultural community through science-based soil health initiatives and innovative farming practices. We are dedicated to promoting sustainable agriculture, fostering community resilience, and enhancing the well-being of our farms and families. Together, we strive for healthy soils, farms, and families today and forever.

Charting a Sustainable Path

Our mission is to foster conversation and action among farmers, shaping an Ontario that's as lush and fertile as it is economically robust. We're laying down roots for an ecosystem that's built to last, ensuring that our agricultural practices are as enduring as the land itself.

Our Methods

Holistic Approach to Soil Health

 

We believe that improving soil health is fundamental to sustainable agriculture. Our methods are grounded in both scientific research and community-based practices. By integrating Best Management Practices (BMPs) such as cover cropping, no-till farming, and crop rotation, we promote farming practices that are environmentally and financially sustainable.

Best Management Practices (BMPs)

  • Cover Cropping: Utilizing cover crops to protect and enrich the soil.
  • No-Till Farming: Reducing soil disturbance to maintain soil structure and health.
  • Crop Rotation: Implementing diverse crop rotations to enhance soil fertility and control pests and diseases.

Research and Innovation Our commitment to research drives innovation in soil health. We collaborate with leading agricultural institutions and experts to develop and implement cutting-edge practices that benefit both the environment and the farming community.

Handbook for Leadership and Change Our goal is healthy soils, farms, and families. We believe that leadership and collaboration are the keys. Improving soil takes a willingness to see things differently and do things differently, at the individual, community, industry, and government levels. The OSN holds a collective desire to improve soil on our own farms, promote soil health in Ontario, and share our time, talents, and knowledge with each other to get there.

 

“Is it our job to push soil health or to just lead by example?”

 

asks Laurent (Woody) Van Arkel, a Dresden area farmer and co-founder of OSN.

 

“Trying to convert someone just creates animosity. I don’t want to judge anyone, but create a support group for ourselves to make our farms successful – and that will be our message.”

 

The real crisis of leadership and of soil health is when we believe it is someone else’s job to do it. We are all leaders, and our mission is to inspire and connect a community to make a difference.

Social Networks for Healthy Soils Whether it be community organizing, innovation adoption, or change management – there are many social factors that influence success. We recently hosted a think tank of like-minded organizations to build a better understanding of the influence of social networks, social proofing, and social norms on change. We used our own case studies on soil health adoption to root theory in practice, but the key concepts are boundless.

Check out our report and recordings of the event, below!

This think tank was held over the course of 2 days:

  • Segment 1: Explore quantitative and descriptive aspects of social networks with Damon Centola & Julia Baird.
  • Segment 2: Dive into the behavioral and economic science of networks, norms, and nudges with Tongzhe Li & Erin Nelson.

Peer-to-Peer Knowledge Exchange One of our core methods is facilitating peer-to-peer learning among farmers. We organize workshops, field days, and online forums where farmers can share their experiences, challenges, and successes in adopting BMPs. This approach not only enhances knowledge but also builds a strong, supportive community.

Monitoring and Evaluation We continuously monitor and evaluate the impact of our programs and practices. This ensures that we are meeting our goals and allows us to adapt and improve our strategies based on feedback and new research.

Meet Our Groundbreakers

Our core is fortified by members like Lorraine Vandermyden, our Research and Demonstration Coordinator, whose expertise propels our cause forward. Alongside a dedicated board and staff, Lorraine embodies the knowledge and passion that define OSN.

Our Staff

  • Tori Waugh

    Executive Director
  • Paige Allen

    Provincial Coordinator
  • Lorraine Vandermyden

    Research and Demonstration Coordinator
  • Ian Virtue

    Marketing and Communicaitons Coordinator

The Board of Directors

  • Woody Van Arkel

    Chair
  • David Gowan

    Vice Chair
  • Paul Smith

    Treasurer
  • Ralph Martin

    Director
  • Warren Schneckenburger

    Director
  • Lyndsay Smith

    Director

Join Us on the Journey

Eager to dig deeper? Our network is ever-expanding, and we invite you to be a part of it. Whether you’re interested in participating in our events, tapping into our trove of resources, or simply connecting with fellow soil savants, there’s a place for you here.

Join us as we cultivate not just crops, but a legacy of sustainability that will flourish for generations to come.