Sustainable Agriculture & Natural Environment

Sustainability means living within nature's limits.

Our Green Spaces Give Us Life

Our goal is to promote the awareness and protection of our tree cover and green spaces, our wetlands and waterways and our living soil.

The Agriculture and Natural Capital Sector promotes sustainability across a number of key areas. Using multiple tools such as research, demonstrations, policy papers, legislative review, white papers, communication and education, seminars, and projects, this sector seeks to engage the community and develop more sustainable behaviours by individuals, organizations and businesses.
food map

Sustainable Orillia has created a digital food map to help locate our area Farmers’ Markets, Community Gardens and Independent Growers and Ranchers. Zero Waste Markets and Food Banks are also incorporated into the map with links to websites and other social media sites.

regenerative agriculture

Regenerative agriculture enables soil to better sequester carbon and this is vital to mitigating and hopefully reversing the negative effects of climate change.  By greatly reducing or eliminating chemical fertilizers, using low or no tilling practices,  covering the soil with diverse cover crops and rotating ruminants on the land, farmers are able to build healthier soil.  Healthier soil in turn leads to increased crop production, less erosion and more water retention. Regenerative agriculture done properly is both environmentally imperative  and financially beneficial.


Wetlands and forests

The importance of wetlands and forests cannot be understated as they are essential for healthy ecosystems and human health. Wetlands are vital  in their ability to protect our water quality, store flood waters and provide habitat for fish and wildlife.   They are also highly effective at storing carbon which helps to moderate climate change.  Forests are also fundamental in storing carbon (in the wood, plant matter and soil) that has been released into the atmosphere.  Afforestation, reforestation and the natural regeneration of forest systems is integral to our ability to cool the planet and sequester massive amounts of carbon.

Important stuff and links

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Natural Capital

The World Forum on Natural Capital states that: “Natural Capital can be defined as the world’s stocks of natural assets which include geology, soil, air, water and all living things.”

Fig. 1, courtesy of Metro Vancouver Regional Planning, shows Natural Capital with 4 main components. Ecological services Support us e.g. soil; Provision us e.g. food and oxygen; provide Cultural opportunities e.g. beauty and Regulate e.g. flood control. Nature’s services are fundamental to our existence.

For some time, environmentalists have argued that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) does not well represent a nation’s well-being and perpetuates the notion of continuous growth. The World Economic Forum (WEP) agrees. It asserted “one quick fix is to adopt a measure like median income per capita,…” A more ambitious measure is “natural capital,” based on a country’s ecosystems, fish stocks, minerals, and other natural assets. …” (Fortune, Oct 2019).

A natural capital approach also supports the importance of a circular economy.


Diagram of ecosystem services provided by healthy ecosystems
Fig. 1. This diagram, titled “Ecosystem services provided by healthy ecosystems”, is a useful tool to introduce and group the ecosystem services. Click on the image to download and share it.
THe Rights of Nature Model

Natural Capital is a good way to look at the environment in context. A natural capital perspective (rights of nature) promotes nature to that of being all encompassing, Fig. 2 (, as opposed to the traditional Venn diagram view of the triple bottom line.

Natural Capital is ultimately more important than Financial and Social Capital. Most economic activity is directly dependent upon Natural Capital. Human health, wealth, culture, identity and happiness depend on nature; often complex and little understood. The air we breathe is renewed on this planet due to plant and algal processes. Other planets have actually lost their life-giving oxygen. Simply put: our green spaces give us life.

Our Account is Overdrawn
The Global Footprint “Overshoot Day” proves that our natural capital account is overdrawn. The Global Footprint Network, with a bio-capacity focus, calculated that as of March 18, 2020, Canadians had used up their share the earth’s resources and were drawing down the capital (i.e. next year’s share). This is not sustainable and is ultimately an existential threat. A natural capital approach allows us to illuminate this issue. It also can and should be used by decision makers to understand the complex ways in which natural, social and economic systems interact, impact, and depend upon one another.

Decisions makers – individuals, organization and business should look at the downstream resource requirements of decisions, not just current requirements. You wouldn’t buy a house if you could afford the mortgage but not the taxes.

We're Focusing On

  • Ecosystem services(Natural Capital) – Bio-capacity, Global Footprint, Green House Gas (GHG) reduction.
  • Agriculture – Soil Restoration, Soil and Water Conservation.
  • Food – Local Sourcing, Carbon Footprint of Food Supply Chain Mapping Deserts, Sharing, Waste , Community Gardens, Sustainable Diet.
  • Habitat – Pollinators, Tree Planting, Preservation and Restoration.
  • Water – Storm Water Management, Source Water Protection, Water and Land Pollution ( plastics, chlorides, nitrates, phosphates etc).

Sector Co-Chairs

Allison Andrews

Jacob Kearey-Moreland

Join Us

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Donate and become a member of Sustainable Orillia. Be part of a growing movement. Your donation directly supports our programs, activities and publications.

Participate and volunteer. We need your help to make a difference.

Explore Further

Harvest Time is Here…

…and there is no better time than now to visit our local food providers to enjoy fresh, healthy foods, knowing that you are supporting our local farmers, ranchers and gardeners