Assessing Resilience in Agriculture: A Case Study of Old Order Mennonite Communities in Northern Ontario
This research analyzes the resilience of Old Order Mennonite farmers that have migrated to northern Ontario for agricultural endeavours. Over the past fifteen years, Anabaptist farmers, including Old Order Mennonites, have moved to northern Ontario as raising land prices and limited land availability in southern Ontario has restricted their ability to purchase new land. Northern Ontario, with an abundance of productive, less expensive land, has proven to be an opportune location for many farmers. 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. While the Old Order Mennonite community has grown in northern Ontario, the factors of their resilience are unknown. This dissertation examined three Old Order Mennonite communities in northern Ontario, utilizing key informant interviews with community members, municipal representatives, provincial staff and non-Mennonite farmers in order to understand the agricultural resilience of Old Order Mennonites. The results demonstrated that agricultural diversification, as well as a strong sense of community and cultural convictions were important factors within their resilience. This research also found that transformation and decline, often viewed separately from resilience, did not weaken the communities but contributed to their resilience.