A History of Women for the Support of Agriculture
The first WSA organization was formed in March 1975 by Diane Harkin of Winchester, in Eastern Ontario.
At the annual meeting of the Dundas County Federation of Agriculture, Diane delivered a speech in which she pointed out that agricultural organizations focused on commodities, and there was no rural organization that effectively represented the total farm community. Furthermore the existing groups were also either ignoring, or were uninformed concerning farm women’s contribution to agriculture.
Diane ended her speech by calling for the formation of an organization to address these deficiencies. That evening 25 women organized into the first WSA group, know as Women for the Survival of Agriculture.
During subsequent meetings, the membership identified two particular needs: Improved communications between women, rural organizations, and farm and non-farm consumers; and increased education for both farm women and the general farm community. Since then groups sprouted up in other areas and provinces.
In 1981 the year of the Woman, Oxford joined Middlesex and Perth Counties to form the South-western Ontario Women for the Support of Agriculture.
Agriculture in the classroom was the brainchild of Suzanne Leitch, a Middlesex County WSA member. Oxford WSA, in cooperation with Women’s institute, undertook the implementation of Agriculture in the classroom for the public and separate school systems.
Oxford Community Child Care was formed in 1987 under the leadership of past chairperson Elaine Ball. Oxford rural communities have greatly benefited from this major project. O.C.C.C., a non profit organization, now encompasses seven Rural and Urban Parent &Child Drop In programs, a Home Child care Program, Summer Kid Camps, the Thamesford preschool, the Huron Park Children’s centre, The Ingersoll School Age program, four Toy Lending Libraries, and two playgroups located in Woodstock and Ingersoll.