Robert & Moira Sansom Ideas Foundation: where philanthropy unites passion, the environment and research

Jul. 03, 2018

A professor, a farmer, an environmentalist, a father, an uncle and a husband.  Theodore Robert Sansom (Bob) grew up during World War II. He graduated from the University of New Brunswick before he went overseas in 1956 to London where he married his wife Moira. Upon their return to Canada, they settled in London, Ontario, where Bob taught political science at Western University.

“Bob taught his subject in a fiercely independent way that won the deep respect and affection of our most serious students” – Richard Vernon, colleague at Western University

Bob and Moira, a dynamic couple, were passionate and committed to the environment, with a strong belief in reducing, reusing and recycling. It was a lifestyle for them, from the clothes they wore, to the dishes they used and how they composted and supported certified organic farming practices.

Perhaps this explains the incredible support the Robert and Moira Sansom Ideas Foundation, a fund within London Community Foundation, has year in and out for the Ecological Farmer’s Association of Ontario (EFAO).

The EFAO is all about creating a community of ecological farmers with the help of education, training, farmer-led research and knowledge sharing.  With a beautiful vision to make farming a viable way of living, to provide programming on ecological agricultural methods and to generate public knowledge and support of ecological agriculture, the EFAO is a seamless fit for the donor-advised fundholders Bob and Moira.

Bob and Moira created their fund here at LCF in 2013, committing to grant to the EFAO yearly, forever. For the EFAO, this support speaks volumes.  Because of the Robert and Moira Sansom Ideas Foundation, the EFAO is able to engage in farmer-led research, the first program of its kind in Ontario.

The on-farm, farmer-led program is about tapping into the inherent curiosity and innovative spirit of farmers to support advances in ecological agriculture. Open for applications by any farmer interested in testing the effects of adopting more ecological practices on their farm, the EFAO is able to improve the environment and local communities for generations to come.

In the first two years of the farmer-led research program, 19 farmers were able to receive funding for 28 trials! This funding and research is helping to build resilience within the farming community. The EFAO estimates that the Robert and Moira Ideas Foundation contributed to covering 10% of the operating expenses in 2017, with over $60,000 in total granted to the EFAO over three years! The generosity of Bob and Moira also allows EFAO to leverage their funds to secure grants and matching dollar grants. This is the kind of annual support that has organizations over the moon excited to be connected to London Community Foundation donors.

"We have tremendous appreciation for the Robert and Moira Sansom Ideas Foundation, a fund held at LCF. Our farmer-led research program is fully funded until December 2019, and we wouldn't have been able to do it without their support!"

Bob Sansom has since passed away from ALS, but we can only imagine the sense of pride and value he held knowing that even long after he was gone, his and his wife’s fund would continue to give and support an organization just as passionate and dedicated to the environment and farming as them.

We’d like to acknowledge that excerpts of Robert Sansom’s history were pulled from The Globe and Mail feature “Lives Lived: Theodore Robert Sansom, 79”, a piece contributed by his nieces and nephews. You can read the inspiring story here

Photos are property of the Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario.

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