Glencolton farmer Elisa van der Hout leads a group of OFOF farm-share members on a tour of the farm’s dairy barn in April of 2017.
The injunctions being sought at Newmarket Court next Monday and Tuesday may well be the final nail in the coffin of raw milk, if Ontario milk director Gavin Downing and the Region of York have their way.
The proposed injunctions would shut down the “milk plant” at Glencolton Farms, located about two hours northwest of Toronto, in Grey County near the town of Durham, and would also prohibit the continued distribution of raw milk from the farm to people in York Region. The injunctions would prohibit even advocating the consumption of raw milk. Simcoe Region and Peel Region have subsequently joined the injunction application, so people in those jurisdictions would also be affected, as well.
This farm has, in the past, faced numerous raw-milk-related charges, most recently arising from a raid in 2006. However, in the past, charges have been on the level of regulatory offenses. If the injunctions being sought are granted by the court, any continuation of these activities could result in criminal charges, not only for the persons named — Michael Schmidt, Elisa Van der Hout, and Markus Schmidt — but also for any John or Jane Doe, and for the Christian Community church which has been a distribution site. Continue reading
As Trial Nears for One Farm, the Supporters Take Action on Raw Milk Policy and Access
Toronto, Canada– September 23, 2016—Raw milk itself is on trial, say supporters, at a Monday September 26, two-day hearing at the Ontario Court of Justice. The past year has seen an unprecedented rise in consumer awareness, demand, and action to obtain this food. Raw milk drinkers cite a number of reasons for drinking raw milk from health reasons and taste, to political. For some immigrants, raw milk is a staple food in their native country.
The Ministry of Health does not think anyone should be able to access raw milk or drinking the beverage. The hearing will be held in the court building at 50 Eagle Street, West, Newmarket, Ontario.
In January of this year, York Region, The Ministry of Agriculture and Food and the Ministry Health filed an application to get an injunction against the distribution or sale of raw milk against Michael Schmidt, Elisa Vander Hout, Glencolton Farms, Agricultural Renewal Coop and anyone who provides, distributes or recommends raw milk. The hearing is to determine if the applications can be converted into an action. If successful, this would change the dynamics of the procedure from a hearing to a proper trial. People interested in procuring raw milk want this case to appear before a jury. Our Farm, Our Food Coop, one of the many organizations in support of consumer choice, has filed a motion to intervene as an added party to the proceedings, which would give all members a voice to defend their right to the foods of their choice. Continue reading
Thousands of petition signers urge parliament to modernize milk laws
Toronto, Ontario—A group of Canadians are hoping for a Health Canada policy change for raw milk. A Parliament e-petition in favour of changes to Health Canada’s raw milk policy has already gathered over 4,000 signatures. The petition, sponsored by Member of Parliament (MP) Larry Miller, ends on August 11, 2016.
As many Canadians return to natural and local foods, a growing number of fresh food enthusiasts want their milk produced on a small-scale from local farms. This natural, raw milk, that people have been consuming for thousands of years, is actually illegal in Canada—something that the petition creator, Cory Harris, is working to change.
“I started this petition so Canadians can have the freedom of choice to access natural foods from farmers we know. Currently, not only is it illegal to buy raw milk from a farmer, it is even illegal for me to own a cow and board it at a farm,” says Harris. “I don’t like to see the government send raids and swat teams out to farms over milk. It is time to see this policy modernized and see Canada welcome a new and more collaborative, farmer and consumer-friendly model for raw milk alongside the existing system.” Continue reading
Glencolton Farms Farmshare member Mascha Perrone wrote this letter in October of 2015, around the time of Canadian Thanksgiving. And her husband took this picture to go along with it. The picture has since been used on the back of the Glencolton Farms van, and on posters and memes promoting food freedom. More recently we asked Mascha to write an introduction and an update to provide a bit more contemporary context to her letter. This is what she wrote:
Introduction: Six months ago I wrote the following letter to ask for answers to my questions and to invite the authorities to talk to me. To this day I have no answers to my questions and I have not been invited to talk to any of the people that represent me in the provincial or federal government.
I have high hopes that this New Year and this new government will bring me the dialogue and cooperation I expect to encounter in this democratic country. I truly wish that soon Glencolton Farms will once and for all be left in peace while continuing to farm biodynamically!
My Thanksgiving to Glencolton Farms
Over the past fourteen years, I have had the privilege to pick up my weekly allotment of dairy products and other wholesome, farm-fresh food from Glencolton Farms at a local drop-off site. First Michael Schmidt and now Elisa Schmidt have faithfully driven to this site so I, as a part owner of the farm, can receive my weekly share of food in a convenient manner. Continue reading
QUEENS PARK, TORONTO: An estimated 80-some food rights supporters converged on Queen’s Park for a rally and food rights declaration signing today. Elisa and Michael Schmidt started things off by speaking briefly about recent developments in the ongoing raw milk saga.
Michael Schmidt speaks to the crowd, prior to the signing of today’s Food Rights Declaration, flanked by his wife Elisa and farm share member Mascha Perrone. Nov. 26th, at Queen’s Park in Toronto.
Michael then read the text of the Food Rights Declaration, which was also printed on both sides of the milk truck, which had been brought to Queen’s Park for the occasion. After that, folks were invited to sign both a smaller copy of the declaration to be presented to Premier Wynn and then the large copy on the side of the truck. Continue reading
If you support the right of people to make their own food choices, you are invited to sign a declaration of food rights at Queen’s Park on Thursday November 26th at 1 pm. Queen’s Park is the home of the Ontario Legislature in downtown Toronto.
The day before, on Wed. Nov. 25th, at 9 am, there will be a news conference at Queen’s Park to talk about the declaration of food rights and other topics related to recent raw milk standoffs.
Michael Schmidt will be at both the Nov. 25 news conference and the Nov. 26 food rights declaration signing.
As you will see from the video above and from the photo below, there’s been a shift away from focusing on Michael Schmidt’s role in all this, and putting the focus instead on the farm share members, like Masha Perrone, whose access to milk from their own cows has been put at risk by the recent actions of governmental agencies.
Farmshare owner Masha Perrone seems to have become the poster person for food choice, seen here with Elisa from the farm. Masha’s picture is now on the back of the milk truck. Photo: David Pickett.
Thanks to Collective Evolution for the video. See more of their work here.
Note that the video was shot a while ago and thus does not reflect the fact that a meeting has in fact taken place with York Region Public Health. See transcript of that meeting here. There was also some subsequent correspondence with Joe Lamarca of York Region Public Health, which was essentially a restatement of the Health Unit’s previous position.
It’s been 20 years since the first Grey-Bruce County health department raids on farmer Michael Schmidt over raw milk in 1994. To mark the occasion some friends held a party for Michael Schmidt last Saturday. This poem was from one of the presentations:
Raw Milk Sting
Poet Judith McGill with Michael Schmidt and friends at a party last Saturday to celebrate 20 years of the struggle for raw milk access and food rights in Ontario.
A poem by Judith McGill
We’ve known for some time through surveillance cameras
The comings and goings
of the bovine milk runners
the corridors they transverse
under the cloak of darkness
We know how they enter and deliver the stuff in its purest form
Then proceed silently back to the sunlit fields where it is grown in abundance
We have seen them fertilize the crop and then carry it under their coats to him
We know how it is stored in large vats and packaged in litre jars with white lids