Mary Ann Dorè – 7th generation farmer who wants to preserve the land for future generations 

UPDATE: The 2022 Oxford Stewardship Award was presented at County Council on February 22, 2023 to Mary Ann Doré and family. 


Farming comes naturally for Mary Ann Doré. You could even say she has farming running through her veins. The 7th generation farmer is currently operating Heritage Hill Farms in Blandford-Blenheim and additional lands in Waterloo Region with her parents, Frances and James Johnston, brother Graham Johnston and husband Joe Doré. Doré is nominated for the Oxford Stewardship Award for her work to preserve the family's land over the past decade. She takes great pride in land stewardship and makes every decision with the future in mind. 

 Mary Ann windbreak


The family has only been in Oxford County for 12 years after realizing their dairy operation in Brampton was not sustainable due to the growing pressures of farming in an urban centre. Together they set out to make new traditions and tackle different challenges after purchasing their farm in 2010. Doré says the entire family instantly fell in love with their new community.

"Deciding to move from the farm in Brampton was a big decision, but farming in an urban centre is a big challenge. We are thrilled to live in Blandford-Blenheim and be back on a farm with a community of farmers helping each other."

Doré admits that arriving in Blandford-Blenheim from Brampton did not come without challenges.

"It was a big move and a big learning curve. The farm in Brampton is very flat clay, and our new farm has large sandy hills. We did not know how to deal with water erosion at first."

Working with organizations like the GRCA and Ducks Unlimited, Doré went right to work in tackling these problems, starting with closing the old abandoned wells on the property.

Recently, Doré installed a series of three water and sediment control basins to reduce the hill erosion on a field that slopes towards Washington Creek, a cold water system. This project was completed in conjunction with two wetland cells designed by Ducks Unlimited in 2021. The wet corners of the fields were not performing, and it made sense to capture the runoff and create new habitat.

Doré has also managed to complete five tree planting projects with funding support from the Clean Water Program: a three-row windbreak along the west property line, a single-row spruce windbreak in the centre fence line, a riparian buffer along the creek, a buffer along the new wetland cell and a sloped area by the back corner. She recognizes that windbreaks help reduce wind erosion of the soil and provide habitat. Doré wants to ensure this land is intact and viable for her family and future generations as well.

"I really like the idea of preserving this land for another seven generations. All of our decisions have the future in mind."

Everyone in the family is on board with Doré's stewardship initiatives.

"Slight changes like leaving a buffer are an easy thing to do. Little changes can add up to have a big impact."

Doré has also undertaken stewardship initiatives on the family's property in Waterloo Region. She planted cover crops with support from the Waterloo Rural Water Quality Program and thinks it is a "no-brainer" to include a flowering plant in the cover crop mix to provide a food source for pollinators.