A well-attended IPM
Throngs of visitors attended the 2019 International Plowing Match and Rural Expo from the first day to the last. Courtesy photo

KEMPTVILLE – North Grenville Mayor Nancy Peckford has revealed the 2021 International Plowing Match will be held on municipally-owned Kemptville Campus, as well as on the former campus farm across the highway which remains under provincial ownership.

While overseeing consultations on the master plan for the campus on Feb. 10 and 11, Peckford said the 2021 IPM will be awarded to North Grenville after she and other officials lobbied Ontario Plowmen’s Association directors for consideration. She said the timing was perfect because OPA was looking for a 2021 host.

North Grenville controls about 630 acres and 50 buildings on the main campus downloaded by the provincial government after the University of Guelph vacated the premises beginning in 2014; the municipality is gradually transforming the site into an educational centre but without an agricultural component.

OPA, which owns and operates the IPM, requires about 1,000 acres of land to accommodate the rotating match and tented city; Peckford said that requirement will be met with inclusion of other Grenville County properties. “We had 15 farmers out to a meeting prepared to become involved…we have full support.” While the deal hasn’t been signed on the dotted line, Peckford said it has been verbally struck.

Although Kemptville Campus will never again be an agricultural college, Peckford has publicly stated her commitment to bringing agriculture back in some form and recognizes the symbolic value of hosting an IPM on site.

Also in the wings is the possibility of restoring the diesel equipment mechanic apprenticeship program that was part of campus programming under U of G. Two of the four regional school boards now accommodated on campus are trying to make that happen as an option for some of their students, with room for interested area farmers.

Ontario Federation of Agriculture field rep Ruth Vogel wrote a note requesting return of the apprenticeship program during the master plan consultations. These consultations are held to help determine what services residents would like to see implemented on campus. The consulting company hired by the municipality is aim- ing to report back in April.

On day one of the consultations, participants were asked to indicate their preferences on low-tech sticky notes and affix them to posters at stations gathering past experience and memories, present experience and challenges, and future desires and challenges. By the end of the evening, the posters were peppered with notes, including the one from Vogel.

The sticky-note session was followed by a project overview and question-and-answer session where most comments were about the arts and culture potential on campus, with some related to the agriculture glory days, which a few participants suggested could be partly restored with the introduction of horses and goats.

Day two featured a workshop with elementary and high school students attending classes on campus, seeking their views and wish-lists of additions to the site. Also that day, there was a meeting where stakeholders were asked to address campus themes such as built form, open spaces and transportation.