To The Farm Research Foundation (Inc. 1973)
In 1947, he
bought the farm at Davidson and started chemical farming in 1949.
He married Gladys McKay in 1969, and started organic farming that
Gladys never went to the field but she was very helpful doing
research, particularly on organic farming.
Over the ensuing 30 years, she also cooked numerous lunches and
dinners, and baked cookies for the large number of visitors who came to
talk about organic farming. Gladys passed away on November 15, 1999.
under the Societies Act and sponsored by the National Farmers Union, they
established The Back To The Farm Research Foundation, of which Mr. Laird
In 2001, Elmer retired as a farmer and donated the use of his land
(640 acres) to the Foundation for taxes.
The Board of Directors also made him the Farm Manager – at no
And the work
In 2005, the
Foundation had ten research plots for the purpose of demonstrating that it
is possible to farm without pesticides, choosing crops that are compatible
and able to overcome any potential weed problems. The Foundation
also offers, without charge, consultations and advice on all aspects
of organic agriculture.
10, 2005, with the help of Jack Chardonnens and his wife, Bridget, they
proudly erected the Foundation’s sign – something they wish they had
done five years ago.
Don Robertson, Liberty, SK S0G 3A0
To The Farm Research Foundation
Whyte, Editor, Maclean’s
Dear Mr. Whyte:
Enclosures: Article from Sept. 17, 1990 edition of Maclean’s, aerial photo of our research foundation, photo of our sign – Welcome to the First Certified Organic Research and Demonstration Farm in Canada.
I am writing to thank you for your excellent article in the Sept. 17, 1990 edition of Maclean’s. The article was entitled Field of a Dream and written by journalist Dale Eisler from Regina (at that time.) Your article is very complimentary to me and the work I am still doing. I had never seen the article until a few days before Christmas 2005 when I received it with a Christmas greeting from the daughter of a longtime friend of mine, Murray Carrey of Regina. You will note that I was 66 years old then. Well, I have advanced to 81 years now.
Our Back To The Farm Research Foundation was sponsored by Local 614 of the National Farmers Union in 1973 under the Societies Act of the province of Saskatchewan which makes us a charitable organization. We set it up because the few organic farmers at the time couldn’t get any organic policy on the main floor of NFU national conventions. Now their president, Stewart Wells, is a certified organic farmer. Our Research Foundation did policy research until 2001. I retired as a farmer then and donated the use of my 640-acre farm to the Research Foundation. We are doing crop research and have demonstration plots; we offer consultations or advice on all aspects of organic farming at no charge. I was appointed manager at no salary.
We demonstrate the growing of “safe” crops which means that if you were a long-time chemical farmer and are afraid the weeds will choke out your crop, we grow what we consider are safe crops that will resist or compete with weeds. Last year we grew ten 10-acre plots of spelt, hemp, spring wheat, flax, radish seed for sprouting, intercrops of oats and peas, flax and lentils, mustard, rye and barley. Intercropping means growing two or more crops in the same field at the same time to control weeds and/or bugs.
Pesticides are obsolete. They were developed in World Wars I and II for biological warfare and never should have been used for farming. Weeds have built up a resistance to herbicides which forces farmers to use more and stronger chemicals. This is polluting our food, air and water and will eventually destroy the productivity of the soil.
Dr. Allan Cessna of the National Hydrology Water Institute in Saskatoon says that all of our surface water in Saskatchewan and one-third of our deep wells are polluted with pesticides. Most of the larger towns and cities rely on surface water for a potable water supply. Here in Saskatchewan we have the highest rate of breast cancer and cervical cancer and the second highest rate of prostate cancer in Canada. We use one-third of the pesticides used in Canada, and I know that chemicals are causing cancer (Alive magazine research).
Three years ago, I was on an organic farming tour of Cuba. There was a German scientist on board. He said that certified organic food was more nutritious than chemically raised food. In fact, the world is hungry for certified organic food but our politicians won’t tell us about the demand for organic food. In fact, all provinces and the federal government with the exception of Prince Edward Island, promote chemical agriculture only. The transnational drug and chemical companies have a very powerful lobby and all politicians are afraid of the lobby. In the meantime farmers here on the prairies are going broke because of the low prices of chemically raised grain. Some are selling their farms while they have a little equity left. They can’t pay their chemical and fertilizer bills, and if we continue this route, we are headed into the first great Depression of the 21st century. We had one in the 1930s. This federal election has been going on for five weeks and not one politician to date has mentioned the prairie farm environment and financial crisis. Federal politicians and the national media have been enjoying some certified organic food in the five restaurants of the House of Commons, but no one has told us yet!
We have about 32 million people in Canada and most of them eat if they get a chance. However, food banks are one of our major growth industries. In fact, after five weeks of campaigning not one politician to date has mentioned the food, food pollution, or water pollution crisis or the necessity of producing healthy food. It is obvious that the leaders of our four major political parties (not the Green) think dollars will save our national Medicare program. Well, dollars won’t, only the most healthy, nutritious food, pure water and a clean environment will. In the year of 2000, the Standing committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development recommended on Page 184 of their report that farmers should be subsidized to switch to organic farming. No action on the report to date.
The Christian churches in Canada have not expressed any concern about pesticide pollution of our air, food and water or the farm crisis to date. I thought a long time ago the churches would have decided that polluting Mother Nature’s (or God’s whichever term you choose to use) resources was a sin. However, no response yet, but it may be coming.
In the meantime, my Chicago contact tells me that the transnational drug and chemical corporations are holding meetings now to decide how to take over Canada’s family farms. Presently, they are exerting a great influence and robbing family farms of their profit. National and provincial politicians are quite prepared to let them do it. They are afraid of the chemical lobby.
I thank you again for the Sept. 17, 1990 article. The question I have for you is: Do you think that you can depend on the transnational drug and chemical corporations to produce a healthy, nutritious food supply in perpetuity after they take over the family farm?
Elmer Laird, President