kapuskasing, ON

An experimental farm that has been helping Northern farmers for close to 100 years will be closed by the federal government.

But some argue the research station in Kapuskasing is too important to the future of the region — and are working to save it.

The 14 workers at the experimental farm found out last week, and local union president Collette Goulet said it's been an emotional time.

"You cry with them, you laugh with them, you work with them," Goulet said. "It's very heartbreaking."

Goulet noted the news is also heartbreaking for farmers who have put the research into practice — on everything from cattle feed to what type of grain to plant.

"They have to rely on research stations, so to them, it's quite a blow."

Looking at alternatives

It's a blow Alan Spacek is hoping to avoid. The mayor of Kapuskasing said he's also part of a new group mapping out the future of farming in the North.

"We were just formalizing that process when we got caught off guard by this announcement," Spacek said.

Now the group is working on a way to keep the farm running, even without federal tax dollars.

"This facility is very valuable and the work it does is very valuable and it's going to be very difficult to replicate," Spacek said.

He said, with climate change, farming could become a big part of northern Ontario's future — one that extends long past this October,  when the Kapuskasing experimental farm is set to close.