The Nature of Meadowlea

ALUS Lambton participants Scott & Susan Stephens produce 25 acres of ecosystem services in Brigden, Ontario.

ALUS Lambton participants Scott and Susan Stephens maintain eight ALUS projects on environmentally sensitive parcels of land on Meadowlea Farms, including this Ontario native tallgrass prairie project producing excellent habitat for pollinators and wildlife.
ALUS Lambton participants Scott and Susan Stephens maintain eight ALUS projects on environmentally sensitive parcels of land on Meadowlea Farms, including this Ontario native tallgrass prairie project producing excellent habitat for pollinators and wildlife.

There are a number of impressive century farms across southwestern Ontario. And some of them, such as Meadowlea Farms Inc.in Brigden (St. Clair Township), are hard at work producing ecosystem services, such as cleaner water, cleaner air and more biodiversity, in addition to their traditional crops.

Meadowlea Farms has been in ALUS Lambton participants Scott and Susan Stephens’ family for 120 years. The land consists of 800 acres of fields growing cash crops such as corn, soybean, wheat, a 100-acre woodlot, 10 acres of pasture, and a little more than 25 acres of ALUS projects.

“The land we used for one of our ALUS projects was always hard to farm,” recalls Scott. “It was constantly flooding, the harvests were hit or miss, and it was risky pulling wagons up that steep hill. So we thought, why not just return those 16 acres back to nature? And that’s just what we did, thanks to ALUS Lambton.”

Signing up as participants in 2016, the Stephens now have eight ALUS projects established on environmentally sensitive parcels of land, including riparian and flood plain areas.

They have enhanced and created some wetlands and restored the buffer strips around them. They have also planted trees and shrubs to create wooded upland habitats, and planted Ontario native tallgrass prairie species to increase the grassland habitat on their land.

“Some of our fields have telephone poles in them, which are hard to farm around. We turned that area into a strip of native tallgrass prairie, to act as a buffer zone between the field and the ditch. It filters the water running off the fields to capture phosphorus, and serves as a wildlife corridor with food for pollinators and great cover for ground-nesting birds,” says Susan.

By next year, this ALUS project will be a thick strip of native tallgrass prairie growing more than seven feet tall. It will act as a buffer zone between the field and the ditch, capturing phosphorus and filtering the water running off the fields, and will serve as a wildlife corridor with food for pollinators and great cover for ground-nesting birds.
By next year, this ALUS project will be a thick strip of native tallgrass prairie growing more than seven feet tall. It will act as a buffer zone between the field and the ditch, capturing phosphorus and filtering the water running off the fields, and will serve as a wildlife corridor with food for pollinators and great cover for ground-nesting birds.

“On some of our other ALUS projects, we have trees growing in there now, we see more wildlife, more butterflies, and we have nice opportunities for outdoor activities with our family–we’ve gone canoeing up there, and skating and snowmobiling in the winter,” Susan continues.

All the Stephens’ ALUS projects are helping the environment in many ways. Their tallgrass prairie projects protect soil health while creating beneficial pollinator habitat, for instance.

Meanwhile, their wetland and riparian projects help improve fish habitat, water quality and quantity in the adjacent Black Creek, a major tributary to the Sydenham River, which is home to numerous species-at-risk.

In this way, the ALUS projects also help reduce phosphorus loads in the Sydenham River watershed, to contribute to a healthier ecosystem in the Great Lakes region for future generations.

As ALUS participants, the Stephens’ have seen first-hand the positive impacts ALUS projects can have on the landscape—now, they have started telling others about it. “Our ALUS projects are generating some interest from the neighbors,” he says. “We are happy to answer any questions, especially knowing that’s exactly how ALUS spreads on the ground: it’s a good idea that gets passed along from farmer to farmer.”

“Scott and Susan have always had a passion for the outdoors and for wildlife,” says ALUS Lambton Program Coordinator Lindsay Buchanan, recalling how their property was selected by the Ministry of Natural Resources many years ago as a good site to release wild turkeys as part of efforts to reintroduce the native bird to this region.

What’s more, says Buchanan “I think the Stephens are a great example of the motto I have adopted: ‘If you are going to live here, than live like you are going to stay here!’ This is something I heard University of Trent Professor Dan Longboat say, at a Carolinian Canada conference some time ago. It really struck a chord with me, and I try to promote it through my work with ALUS and Ontario NativeScape.”

ALUS Lambton participants Scott and Susan Stephens produce 25 acres of ecosystem services (cleaner air, cleaner water and more biodiversity) in Brigden, Ontario.
ALUS Lambton participants Scott and Susan Stephens produce 25 acres of ecosystem services (cleaner air, cleaner water and more biodiversity) in Brigden, Ontario.

View short video on ALUS Canada’s YouTube channel.


The Next Generation of Conservation in the West

Calgary business leaders celebrate strong support for ALUS Canada in Alberta, where ranchers produce cleaner air, cleaner water and wildlife habitat for all.

Calgary event Nov 2018
ALUS Canada’s Board Director Larry Kaumeyer (centre) and long-time supporter David Bissett co-hosted a special event at Calgary’s storied Ranchmen’s Club on November 28, 2018, to celebrate ALUS’ strong presence in Alberta. From L to R: Trish Nixon (Corporate Affairs, United Farmers of Alberta Cooperative); (back) Kim Sturgess (CEO & Founder, Alberta WaterSmart); event co-host Larry Kaumeyer (ALUS Canada Board Director and CEO, Buffalo Inspection Services); Greg Shyba (CEO, Ann & Sandy Cross Conservation Area and Chair, Calgary Foundation Environment Committee).

On November 28, a group of 20 Albertan business leaders joined ALUS Canada supporters and senior staff to celebrate ALUS’ strong presence in Alberta.

The event, at Calgary’s storied Ranchmen’s Club, was co-hosted by ALUS Canada’s Board Director, Larry Kaumeyer (CEO, Buffalo Inspection Services), and long-term ALUS supporter David Bissett.

In his opening remarks, Kaumeyer introduced ALUS Canada, A Weston Family Initiative, as a national charitable organization whose program supports farmers and ranchers who produce cleaner air, cleaner water, more biodiversity and other ecosystem services in their communities.

He thanked his co-host, David Bissett, who recently renewed his longstanding support for ALUS by creating the Bissett Action Fund in 2017.

“The Bissett Action Fund has already helped 45 farmers and ranchers redeploy nearly 1,000 acres of marginal land,” said Kaumeyer. “This land is now producing valuable ecosystem services that benefit all Albertans.”

Calgary event
The expansion of the ALUS program in Alberta is a testament of the success of its science-based, voluntary approach and, as ALUS’ western team can attest, there has been strong growth in demand from municipalities. From L to R: Bryan Gilvesy (CEO, ALUS Canada); Al Kemmere (President, Rural Municipalities of Alberta); Brian Rodgers (ALUS Mountain View PAC member); (back) Christine Campbell (Western Hub Manager, ALUS Canada); Sean La Brie (ALUS Mountain View PAC member).

ALUS Canada’s CEO, Bryan Gilvesy, described ALUS Canada’s scope across the nation, mentioning that the program has grown to 22 ALUS communities in six provinces, with nearly 600 participants. ALUS has enjoyed particular success in Alberta, home to 9,000 acres of ALUS projects, which represents roughly half of the program’s national total.

“So far, we’ve disbursed more than $1.6 million in funding to Alberta’s 10 ALUS communities, including nearly $675,000 last year alone,” he said, “and our investment is multiplied on the ground by strong municipal partners, participating farmers and ranchers, and local community sponsors.”

As ALUS’ western team can attest, there has been strong growth in demand from municipalities; the expansion of the ALUS program in Alberta is a testament of the success of its science-based, voluntary approach.

“The results in Alberta show that we can achieve landscape-scale improvements by engaging with the farm communities,” said Gilvesy. “There is very strong community support for ALUS here and that the potential for expansion is huge.”

“We see a great deal of enthusiasm in Alberta. We recognize that there is very strong community support for ALUS here and that the potential for expansion is huge,” said ALUS Canada CEO Bryan Gilvesy, pictured here with longstanding ALUS supporter David Bissett, whose Bissett Action Fund for Southern Alberta has already helped 45 farmers and ranchers redeploy nearly 1,000 acres of marginal land to the production of #ecosystem services that benefit all Albertans.
“We see a great deal of enthusiasm in Alberta. We recognize that there is very strong community support for ALUS here and that the potential for expansion is huge,” said ALUS Canada CEO Bryan Gilvesy, pictured here with longstanding ALUS supporter and event co-host David Bissett, whose Bissett Action Fund has already helped 45 farmers and ranchers redeploy nearly 1,000 acres of marginal land to the production of #ecosystem services that benefit all Albertans.

With sufficient financial support, ALUS Canada could add at least seven new communities in the province over the next three years, while also expanding Alberta’s existing ALUS communities to meet all the available demand. “There are ALUS projects waiting in the wings for funding,” Gilvesy said. “These include wetland restorations, buffer zones around watercourses, wildlife and pollinator habitats and projects that help build more resilient communities.”

The ALUS program is supported through a blend of philanthropic funding and government grants, with a new foray into corporate sponsorships. Katherine Balpataky, who recently joined ALUS as the Director of Corporate Partnerships and Business Development, works with business leaders to cultivate high-impact partnerships through this program, New Acre™ Project.

“I see ALUS, and the New Acre™ Project, as leading the development of a new ecosystem services market in Canada,” said Balpataky. “It’s the first of its kind in Canada, a ground-breaking program that empowers caring Canadian corporations to make a difference on the ground as part of their CSR commitments.”

Balpataky, along with all of ALUS Canada’s team, senior leadership and long-time supporters, are eager to develop new partnerships and help the ALUS program grow in Alberta, so that more farmers and ranchers can produce cleaner air, cleaner water and more wildlife habitat in their communities.

For more information on New Acre™ Project, please contact kbalpataky [@] alus.ca or visit ALUS.ca.

Putting ALUS on the map in Alberta! The ALUS program is supported through a blend of philanthropic funding and government grants, with a new foray into corporate sponsorships. With the New Acre™ Project. ALUS Canada is eager to develop new partnerships and help the ALUS program grow in Alberta, so that more farmers and ranchers can produce cleaner air, cleaner water and more wildlife habitat in their communities.
Putting ALUS on the map in Alberta! The ALUS program is supported through a blend of philanthropic funding and government grants, with a new foray into corporate sponsorships. With the New Acre™ Project. ALUS Canada is eager to develop new partnerships and help the ALUS program grow in Alberta, so that more farmers and ranchers can produce cleaner air, cleaner water and more wildlife habitat in their communities.

How to Fit a Forest Under the Tree

ALUS Canada Launches 2018 Seasonal Giving Campaign

If you wish to donate on behalf of someone on your holiday gift list, you can send them a special ALUS Canada e-card celebrating water, trees or pollinators. Take a look at the options here: https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/30636
If you wish to donate on behalf of someone on your holiday gift list, you can send them a special ALUS Canada e-card celebrating water, trees or pollinators. (To take a look at the options on our donation portal, click the image.)

Every holiday season, ALUS Canada is fortunate to receive generous donations from both loyal and first-time supporters. This year, ALUS Canada has launched a special seasonal fundraising campaign, one that will last from Giving Tuesday (November 27, 2018) until the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve.

“Individuals have always helped ALUS put projects on the agricultural landscape across Canada,” says ALUS Canada’s Senior Director of Donor Relations, Michelle Primus. “This support represents a growing slice of our national funding. We’re excited for this year’s holiday gifts to start flowing in to help grow and strengthen our program in all ALUS communities.”

To date, ALUS has disbursed nearly $6.5 M in funding to support environmental projects in 21 communities in five provinces, where nearly 600 farmers and ranchers participate in the program. Their ALUS projects produce ecosystem services, such as cleaner air, cleaner water, and more habitat for wildlife and pollinators, that benefit Canadians across this nation.

ALUS provides the funding and expertise that enables participants to establish these types of ALUS projects on select, ecologically sensitive parcels of their land. ALUS then provides annual payments to ensure the ongoing stewardship of each project.

“There are many ALUS projects waiting in the wings for funding,” says ALUS Canada CEO Bryan Gilvesy. “These include wetland restorations, buffer zones around watercourses, wildlife and pollinator habitats and projects that help build more resilient communities.”

There is strong demand from communities who wish to start up a new ALUS program in their local region. With sufficient funding, ALUS Canada aims to reach 75 communities across the country by 2025.

“The beauty of ALUS is that every dollar you contribute is multiplied on the ground by the investment of participating farmers, ranchers and communities,” said Gilvesy.

As a registered Canadian charity, ALUS Canada issues charitable tax receipts to all donors for each tax year. So don’t delay, the deadline for your 2018 charitable contributions is December 31!

Thank you for helping ALUS create a healthy landscape that sustains agriculture, wildlife and natural spaces for all Canadians, one acre at a time.

WAYS TO GIVE

  • To make a secure online donation, please click here.
    To make a donation to ALUS Canada using a credit card or PayPal, please use our simple, secure donation portal, hosted by CanadaHelps.org. You can make a one-time donation, set up monthly donations, dedicate your donation to the memory of a loved one, or, for the holidays, donate on behalf of someone on your holiday gift list, who will receive a special ALUS Canada e-card celebrating water, trees or pollinators.
    Take a look at the e-card options here.

  • For gifts of securities, please contact our Senior Director of Donor Relations, at: mprimus[at]alus.ca or by telephone.
  • If you prefer to send a personal or business cheque, please mail your donation, made out to ALUS Canada, to:
    Donations
    ALUS Canada
    555-2938 Dundas Street West
    Toronto, ON
    M6P 4E7
    Canada

Building resilience

ALUS Canada co-organized the country’s first-ever Natural Infrastructure Forum in November 2018.

Experts from across the nation assembled in Winnipeg on November 14 for Canada’s first-ever Natural Infrastructure Forum, intended to determine how to build cities, towns and landscapes that are more resilient to climate change.

Advancing Natural Infrastructure in Canada: ALUS Canada, Insurance Bureau of Canada and the International Institute for Sustainable Development organized the country’s first-ever Natural Infrastructure Forum in November 2018. (Photo: Matthew TenBruggencate, IISD)
Advancing Natural Infrastructure in Canada: ALUS Canada, Insurance Bureau of Canada and the International Institute for Sustainable Development organized the country’s first-ever Natural Infrastructure Forum in November 2018. (Photo: Matthew TenBruggencate, IISD)

The Forum was organized by ALUS Canada, A Weston Family Initiative, the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation, and the Intact Centre for Climate Adaptation, with support from the Government of Manitoba.

“Here in Manitoba, we are no strangers to natural disasters—especially flooding,” said Manitoba’s Minister for Sustainable Development Rochelle Squires, who opened the event. “We need to look at natural solutions that we already possess in our beautiful province… Natural Infrastructure is good for taxpayers and the environment.”

"Here in Manitoba, we are no strangers to natural disasters—especially flooding. We need to look at natural solutions that we already possess in our beautiful province,” said Manitoba’s Minister for Sustainable Development, Rochelle Squires, who opened the Winnipeg event November 14. (Photo: Matthew TenBruggencate, IISD)
“Here in Manitoba, we are no strangers to natural disasters—especially flooding. We need to look at natural solutions that we already possess in our beautiful province,” said Manitoba’s Minister for Sustainable Development, Rochelle Squires, who opened the Winnipeg event November 14. (Photo: Matthew TenBruggencate, IISD)

The Natural Infrastructure Forum featured presentations by 14 expert speakers from across the country, exploring why natural infrastructure is an important and efficient use of financial resources, and how we can accelerate these projects in Canada.

“It is important to get the right people in the room, so we can work together to move Canada’s natural infrastructure agenda forward,” said Lara Ellis, Vice-President, Policy and Partnerships at ALUS Canada, who was one of the Forum organizers and presented on Canadian and international models for natural infrastructure implementation projects on private land.

The ALUS delegation also included ALUS Canada CEO Bryan Gilvesy, and Ontario MPP Toby Barrett, who spoke about his private member’s bill on ALUS to improve community resiliency, which recently received unanimous support upon its second reading in the provincial legislature.

The ALUS delegation at the Natural Infrastructure Forum, from L to R: Ontario MPP Toby Barrett, whose private member’s bill on ALUS (Bill 28) recently received unanimous support in the provincial legislature upon its second reading; Lara Ellis, Vice-President, Policy and Partnerships at ALUS Canada; and Bryan Gilvesy, CEO of ALUS Canada. (Photo: Matthew TenBruggencate, IISD)
The ALUS delegation at the Natural Infrastructure Forum, from L to R: Ontario MPP Toby Barrett, whose private member’s bill on ALUS (Bill 28) recently received unanimous support in the provincial legislature upon its second reading; Lara Ellis, Vice-President, Policy and Partnerships at ALUS Canada; and Bryan Gilvesy, CEO of ALUS Canada. (Photo: Matthew TenBruggencate, IISD)

Across Canada, natural infrastructure is an important complement to traditional, man-made infrastructure, such as wastewater treatment plants, pipelines and reservoirs. And in the face of rising climate uncertainty, Canada could be using more natural infrastructure, such as wetlands, riparian zones and urban forests, to build more resilient cities, towns and landscapes.

“Investing in natural infrastructure like wetlands can be cheaper and more effective than traditional built infrastructure” said David McLaughlin, Director of Climate Change for Canada at IISD. “It is fast becoming a smarter option for cities and communities looking to adapt to climate change and protect residents from flooding.”

In fact, Canada could save millions of dollars and mitigate the impacts of flooding and other natural disasters by investing in natural infrastructure, according to a recent report from IBC, IISD and the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation.

The Forum paid special attention to the critical issue of financing Canada’s necessary natural infrastructure work. Craig Stewart, Vice-President, Federal Affairs, at the Insurance Bureau of Canada, led a panel discussion with representatives of Manitoba Infrastructure, Infrastructure Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada on how best to leverage existing federal and provincial Natural Infrastructure programs.

The organizing committee for Canada’s first-ever Natural Infrastructure Forum, from L to R: David McLaughlin (IISD’s Director of Climate Change for Canada), Natalia Moudrak (Intact Centre for Climate Adaptation’s Infrastructure Adaptation Program Director), Tim Sopuck (CEO of Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation), Dimple Roy (IISD’s Water Program Director), Craig Stewart (IBC’s Vice-President, Federal Affairs), Lara Ellis (ALUS Canada’s VP, Policy and Partnerships). (Photo: Matthew TenBruggencate, IISD)

The organizing committee for Canada’s first-ever Natural Infrastructure Forum, from L to R: David McLaughlin (IISD’s Director of Climate Change for Canada), Natalia Moudrak (Intact Centre for Climate Adaptation’s Infrastructure Adaptation Program Director), Tim Sopuck (CEO of Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation), Dimple Roy (IISD’s Water Program Director), Craig Stewart (IBC’s Vice-President, Federal Affairs), Lara Ellis (ALUS Canada’s VP, Policy and Partnerships). (Photo: Matthew TenBruggencate, IISD)

In addition, Thomas Börtzler (Munich Re Canada), presented international strategies, programs, and financing options for natural infrastructure projects, while Natalia Moudrak (Intact Centre for Climate Adaptation) outlined the costs and benefits of natural infrastructure assets, such as wetlands and ponds, which help reduce the risk of natural disasters in Canada.

The Forum’s roster of natural infrastructure experts also included [in alphabetical order]: Stephanie Cairns (Municipal Natural Assets Initiative, Smart Prosperity Institute); Mark Hadden (Scotiabank); Rob Olson (Manitoba Sustainable Development); Tim Sopuck (Manitoba Conservation Trust, Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation); Kevin Teneycke (The Nature Conservancy of Canada); Marian Weber (Innotech Alberta); and more.

For more information, please contact:
Lara Ellis (Vice-President, Policy and Partnerships, ALUS Canada): lellis [@] alus.ca
Sumeep Bath (Communications Manager, IISD Experimental Lakes Area): sbath [@] iisd.ca
ABOUT US
ALUS Canada, A Weston Family Initiative, is a national charitable organization that works with farmers and ranchers to establish and maintain green infrastructure projects that produce ecosystem services for Canadian communities. There are currently more than 18,500 acres enrolled in the ALUS program by 575 participants, from 21 communities in five provinces, and the program is rapidly expanding. ALUS.ca
The international team of multi-disciplinary experts at the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), headquartered in Winnipeg, delivers the knowledge to act. We tackle some of the world’s most pressing problems by conducting innovative research, generating evidence and championing sustainable solutions. IISD.org
Established in 1964, the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is the national industry association representing Canada’s private home, auto and business insurers. Its member companies represent 90% of the Canadian property and casualty insurance market. IBC works on a number of fronts to increase public understanding of home, auto and business insurance. www.ibc.ca

 


Cold Hands, Warm Hearts

ALUS Canada’s October 2018 Field Conference proves that Prairie spirits cannot be dampened by the weather.

In October, 2018, ALUS Program Coordinators and PAC members represented their communities at the ALUS Canada’s Prairie Hub Field Conference. Left to Right: Folly Baugh (ALUS WUQWATR), Lynn Bishop (ALUS Canada), Cat Fauvelle (ALUS ASAP), Colleen Cuvelier (ALUS LSR), Gord Hammell (ALUS LSR), Jesse Nielsen (ALUS ASAP), Paiten Harapiak (LSR), Kaitlyn Smith (ALUS ASAP), Ray Frey (ALUS LSR), Dennis Pedersen (ALUS LSR) & Wes Pankratz (ALUS LSR). Missing: Paige Englot, ALUS Canada Prairie Hub Manager (photographer).
In October, 2018, ALUS Program Coordinators and PAC members represented their communities at the ALUS Canada’s Prairie Hub Field Conference. Left to Right: Folly Baugh (ALUS WUQWATR), Lynn Bishop (ALUS Canada), Cat Fauvelle (ALUS ASAP), Colleen Cuvelier (ALUS LSR), Gord Hammell (ALUS LSR), Jesse Nielsen (ALUS ASAP), Paiten Harapiak (LSR), Kaitlyn Smith (ALUS ASAP), Ray Frey (ALUS LSR), Dennis Pedersen (ALUS LSR) & Wes Pankratz (ALUS LSR). Missing: Paige Englot, ALUS Canada Prairie Hub Manager (photographer).

On October 10 and 11, early snow across Manitoba and Saskatchewan made for unexpectedly wintry conditions as ALUS Canada’s Prairie Hub gathered for their 2018 field conference.

The ALUS Prairie Hub Field Conference is an annual event bringing together some of ALUS Canada’s national staff, and folks from different ALUS communities in the Prairies, to share their knowledge and experiences, creating a unique learning opportunity for all.

This year, the ALUS Little Saskatchewan River (ALUS LSR) program hosted the conference in Onanole, near Clear Lake, located within Manitoba’s Little Saskatchewan River Conservation District.

Program Coordinators and PAC members from far and wide came together to learn how to optimize the production of ecosystem services. They shared great ideas for project implementation, program administration hacks, and strategies for improving the delivery of the program across the Prairies.

“That cross-pollination of ALUS Coordinators’ thoughts and experiences is such an important part of the field conference,” reflected Paige Englot, ALUS Canada’s Prairie Hub Manager. “We discussed successes and challenges around ALUS projects, and explored how ALUS can be part of the solution for improving environmental problems in local communities.”

During the Prairie Hub Field Conference, ALUS Canada’s CEO Bryan Gilvesy presented an exciting plan for the future of the ALUS program in the Prairie provinces, with national funding from diverse sources, including The W. Garfield Weston Foundation, other philanthropic donors and grant programs, and ALUS Canada’s corporate sponsorship program, the New Acre™ Project, in addition to critical local support.
During the Prairie Hub Field Conference, ALUS Canada’s CEO Bryan Gilvesy presented an exciting plan for the future of the ALUS program in the Prairie provinces, with national funding from diverse sources, including The W. Garfield Weston Foundation, other philanthropic donors and grant programs, and ALUS Canada’s corporate sponsorship program, the New Acre™ Project, in addition to critical local support.

During the October 10 workshops, ALUS Canada’s CEO Bryan Gilvesy presented an exciting plan for the future of the ALUS program in the Prairie provinces, with national funding from diverse sources, including The W. Garfield Weston Foundation, other philanthropic donors and grant programs and ALUS Canada’s corporate sponsorship program, the New Acre™ Project, in addition to critical local support. “He explained where we’re at, where we’re going, and how we’re going to get there,” said Englot.

On October 11, the conference group visited ALUS projects in the northern portion of ALUS Little Saskatchewan River’s territory. The first stop was at Gord Hammell’s property, southwest of Erickson, Manitoba. Hammell is a proud ALUS LSR participant and an active PAC member whose spiffy new ALUS Demonstration Farm sign accurately boasts of all the “Ecosystem Services Produced Here.”

He showed the Prairie Hub a wetland restoration and riparian area enhancement project, initially established as a partnership between ALUS LSR and the Manitoba Heritage Habitat Corporation (MHHC), whose ongoing management and maintenance are supported by ALUS.

At the next stop, attendees explored ALUS participant Ryan Andreychuk’s ALUS project near Harrison, Manitoba. With the help of ALUS LSR, he converted a parcel of marginal farmland from traditional cropping to a permanent patch of mixed perennial species. These deep-rooted plants are better at sequestering carbon, providing wildlife habitat and filtering water as it moves across the landscape toward nearby Gull Lake.

ALUS LSR participant Ryan Andreychuk transitioned this parcel of marginal farmland from traditional cropping to a permanent patch of deep-rooted forage and grass species, which are better at filtering water as it moves across the landscape toward nearby Gull Lake.
ALUS LSR participant Ryan Andreychuk transitioned this parcel of marginal farmland from traditional cropping to a permanent patch of deep-rooted forage and grass species, which are better at filtering water as it moves across the landscape toward nearby Gull Lake.

In this way, ALUS projects produce important ecosystem services such as cleaner water, cleaner air and more biodiversity.

Although the group needed a coffee break to warm up during this unseasonably wintry tour, nothing stopped them from getting the most out of this successful event. This 2018 Field Conference proved that Prairie spirits cannot be dampened by a little snow and cold weather… even if it does come in mid-October!

Acknowledgements
Thanks to the Little Saskatchewan River Conservation District for hosting the conference, to ALUS LSR Program Coordinator Colleen Cuvelier for organizing the project tour, to ALUS participants Gord Hammell, Robert Parker and Ryan Andreychuk for showing their ALUS projects, and to all attendees from across Canada for their participation.

Story to Tell

Watch four great videos created by ALUS Red Deer County participants 

Adrienne Herron describes her relationship with the land, and with ranching, from a female perspective in "Lucky Cows" https://youtu.be/1WC8ywhQ-Zg
ALUS Red Deer County participant Adrienne Herron describes her relationship with the land, and with ranching, from a female perspective in “Lucky Cows.” Watch her video on our YouTube channel here: https://youtu.be/1WC8ywhQ-Zg

ALUS Red Deer County has produced a wonderful collection of digital stories told by local farmers, ranchers and residents with a connection to land and water.

Four ALUS Red Deer County participants tell evocative tales in their videos, resulting from a digital storytelling workshop with StoryCenter, an organization that helps people discover the stories they want to tell, and how to effectively share these stories with others through digital video.

The workshop was hosted last winter by ALUS Red Deer County, Clearwater County, Cows and Fish and the Red Deer River Watershed Alliance, with financial support from EPCOR and Alberta Environment and Parks’ Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program (WRRP).

We encourage you to take a moment to watch these videos, just a sampling of the wide variety of paths that all led people to ALUS.

As ALUS Red Deer County Program Coordinator Ken Lewis says, “simply put, these are stories that must be told—and broadly shared.”

Stephen Smith video
ALUS Red Deer County’s Farmer Liaison, Stephen Smith, tells a personal story of his family’s past and current relationship with the land in his video, entitled “The Land will Provide.” To watch the video, click this link: https://youtu.be/BDiDwPFROro

 

Tyler Goertzen describes his transformation into a farmer in "Dirt Rich Farm" https://youtu.be/g40GLfsIHZA
ALUS Red Deer County participant Tyler Goertzen describes his transformation into a farmer in his video: “Dirt Rich Farm.” Watch this video here: https://youtu.be/g40GLfsIHZA

 

 

Tiffany Sigurdson traces her family’s Icelandic roots, ad their grit and determination to continue stewarding their land in her video, "Sigurdson since 1901" https://youtu.be/Oyn320tEg8o
ALUS Red Deer County participant Tiffany Sigurdson traces her family’s Icelandic roots, ad their grit and determination to continue stewarding their land, in her video: “Sigurdson since 1901.”  Watch the video here: https://youtu.be/Oyn320tEg8o

 


Bumper Crop

ALUS Parkland eco-buffer project produces ecosystem services at the Edmonton Corn Maze.

ALUS Parkland participants Jesse Kraay (left) and Dan Horneman (right)
ALUS Parkland participants Jesse Kraay (left) and Dan Horneman (right) are co-owners of the Edmonton Corn Maze in Spruce Grove, Alberta. The ALUS eco-buffer project on site produces a bumper crop of ecosystem services, such as cleaner air, cleaner water and more biodiversity. Photo: Patrick Zen Wan, Advantage Photography

The Edmonton Corn Maze provides visitors with an unforgettable experience each summer, getting maximum entertainment value out of 15 acres of corn. And thanks to the ALUS project on the grounds, it also produces a bumper crop of ecosystem services, such as cleaner air, cleaner water and more biodiversity, in Spruce Grove, Alberta.

We visited the Edmonton Corn Maze in July, 2016, when its co-owners, ALUS Parkland participants Jesse Kraay and Dan Horneman, graciously welcomed more than 130 people to their property to celebrate the official relaunch of ALUS Canada.

Following the press conference, guests toured the Edmonton Corn Maze’s ALUS project, where a community of perennial plants, forbs, trees and shrubs has been established to serve as an “eco-buffer” between the corn maze and nearby Wedgewood Creek.

During the visit, Agroforestry and Woodlot Extension Society (AWES) technician Luke Wonneck and then-ALUS Parkland Project Coordinator Darren Haarsma explained how the project helps to improve water quality downstream, while also producing local habitat for pollinators, birds and beneficial insects.

eco-buffer
Guests visited a one-acre ALUS Parkland project and learned how its community of perennial plants, forbs, trees and shrubs serves as an “eco-buffer” between the Edmonton Corn Maze and nearby Wedgewood Creek, helping to improve water quality downstream, while also producing local habitat for pollinators, birds and beneficial insects. Photo: Patrick Zen Wan, Advantage Photography

Specifically, the eco-buffer absorbs nutrients and sediment from the corn plantation to improve water quality in the creek, provides habitat for pollinators and pest-suppressing insects, spiders, and birds, which reduces pest outbreaks in the adjacent cornfield, and serves as a visual- and noise-barrier between the highway and the corn maze. Like all ALUS projects, this eco-buffer turns marginal land into something valuable.

As ALUS Parkland participants, Horneman and Kraay receive technical support and annual payments from ALUS to help them maintain this ALUS project. “With the mix of students, neighbours and folks from the city who visit us, this location provides the perfect opportunity for demonstrating the benefits of an eco-buffer,” said Horneman.

Visiting the Edmonton Corn Maze’s ALUS project served as the kick-off to ALUS Parkland’s 2016 annual farm tour, a sold-out event during which three busloads of guests saw ALUS projects across the County.

For ALUS Canada’s Western Hub Manager, Christine Campbell, who oversees all Alberta’s ALUS communities, the event was profoundly inspirational. “Seeing people at all levels of the program come together like this, from our farmers and ranchers to our municipal leaders, and from our external partners to our funders and supporters—it really demonstrates why ALUS has been so successful in Alberta,” she said.

Event July 2016
ALUS Parkland participants Jesse Kraay and Dan Horneman welcomed more than 130 people to the Edmonton Corn Maze to see their eco-buffer project and celebrate the official relaunch of ALUS Canada in July 2016. Photo: Patrick Zen Wan, Advantage Photography

 


It Takes a Village

ALUS works closely with many organizations across Canada. In September, 2018, we celebrated collaboration in Ontario.

In September, 2018, ALUS Canada’s Eastern Hub brought together 19 organizations to explore opportunities for collaboration across the ALUS network in Ontario. Front Row, L to R: Jo-Anne Harbinson (Saugeen Valley Conservation Authority), Sarah Hedges (Ontario Nature), Lindsay Buchanan (Ontario NativeScape, ALUS Lambton), Alyssa Cousineau (Long Point Region Conservation Authority, ALUS Elgin), Keith Reid (Grey Agricultural Services, ALUS Grey-Bruce), Emma Horrigan (Ontario Nature), Casey Whitelock (ALUS Canada). Middle row, L to R: Michelle Primus (ALUS Canada), Christie Kent (Middlesex County), Kate Monk (Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority), Holly Shipclark (Kawartha Conservation), John Stewart (ALUS Elgin PAC), Brendan Jacobs (Raisin Region Conservation Authority, ALUS Ontario East), Hillary Heard (ALUS Middlesex), Rachel Scholten (Ducks Unlimited Canada), Steve Bradish (ALUS Middlesex PAC), Stephanie Drayer (ALUS Norfolk), Shawn Shao (University of Guelph), Jim Jones (University of Waterloo), Henry Bakker (Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, ALUS Peterborough). Back Row, L to R: Chris Robinson (Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters), Ben Hindmarsh (Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Farms and Rural Affairs), Tim Payne (St. Clair Region Conservation Authority), Don Ciparis (National Farmers Union—Ontario), Shawn Caughell (ALUS Elgin PAC). Photo by Andrew Barrie (OMAFRA).
In September, 2018, ALUS Canada’s Eastern Hub brought together 19 organizations to explore opportunities for collaboration across the ALUS network in Ontario. Front Row, L to R: Jo-Anne Harbinson (Saugeen Valley Conservation Authority), Sarah Hedges (Ontario Nature), Lindsay Buchanan (Ontario NativeScape, ALUS Lambton), Alyssa Cousineau (Long Point Region Conservation Authority, ALUS Elgin), Keith Reid (Grey Agricultural Services, ALUS Grey-Bruce), Emma Horrigan (Ontario Nature), Casey Whitelock (ALUS Canada). Middle row, L to R: Michelle Primus (ALUS Canada), Christie Kent (Middlesex County), Kate Monk (Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority), Holly Shipclark (Kawartha Conservation), John Stewart (ALUS Elgin PAC), Brendan Jacobs (Raisin Region Conservation Authority, ALUS Ontario East), Hillary Heard (ALUS Middlesex), Rachel Scholten (Ducks Unlimited Canada), Steve Bradish (ALUS Middlesex PAC), Stephanie Drayer (ALUS Norfolk), Shawn Shao (University of Guelph), Jim Jones (University of Waterloo), Henry Bakker (Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, ALUS Peterborough). Back Row, L to R: Chris Robinson (Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters), Ben Hindmarsh (Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Farms and Rural Affairs), Tim Payne (St. Clair Region Conservation Authority), Don Ciparis (National Farmers Union—Ontario), Shawn Caughell (ALUS Elgin PAC). Photo by Andrew Barrie (OMAFRA).

One of ALUS Canada’s guiding principles is integration: ALUS works with existing conservation programs, agricultural groups and all levels of government to deliver the program in each ALUS community. Every so often, we have an opportunity to celebrate—and strengthen—these vital connections.

On September 27, 2018, ALUS Canada’s Eastern Hub Manager Casey Whitelock brought together 19 organizations who collaborate closely with ALUS in Ontario. The day-long workshop featured a morning tour of ALUS projects and an afternoon of meetings to discuss strategies for strengthening the delivery of the ALUS program across the province.

In addition to ALUS Canada staffers, all eight ALUS communities in Ontario were well represented—ALUS Middlesex, ALUS Norfolk, ALUS Grey-Bruce (a partnership with Grey Agricultural Services), ALUS Elgin (a partnership with Long Point Region Conservation Authority), ALUS Chatham-Kent (a partnership with Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority), ALUS Peterborough (a partnership with Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters), ALUS Lambton (a partnership with Ontario NativeScape), and ALUS Ontario East (a partnership with Raisin Region Conservation Authority).

Joining the ALUS crew were representatives of key organizations that work closely with ALUS in Ontario, such as the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority, Ducks Unlimited Canada, Kawartha Conservation, Middlesex County, National Farmers Union–Ontario (NFU), OMAFRA (Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs), Ontario Nature, Saugeen Valley Conservation Authority, St. Clair Region Conservation Authority, University of Guelph and University of Waterloo.

ALUS Middlesex Program Coordinator Hillary Heard (centre) and Ontario Nature staffers Sarah Hedges and Emma Horrigan enjoy a light moment while touring an wetland and sediment basin at an ALUS Elgin project during ALUS Canada’s Eastern Hub workshop.
ALUS Middlesex Program Coordinator Hillary Heard (centre) and Ontario Nature staffers Sarah Hedges and Emma Horrigan enjoy a light moment while touring an wetland and sediment basin at an ALUS Elgin project during ALUS Canada’s Eastern Hub workshop.

Many of these organizations, such as the NFU, are long-time ALUS supporters and collaborators. “The NFU has three policy planks, revolving around the economic, social and environmental sustainability of agriculture—ALUS catches all three,” said NFU Counsellor at Large Don Ciparis during the ALUS Elgin tour. “Our executives and members embrace the ALUS concept, and we try to make people aware of the program.”

Other organizations attending the workshop are relatively new to working with ALUS. ALUS Peterborough has only been in existence since 2017, but according to Holly Shipclark, Stewardship Coordinator with Kawartha Conservation, it’s already providing benefits in their region:

“We’re always looking for tools to help landowners do good stewardship on their properties; ALUS is a fantastic tool, and a unique one, that helps farmers move forward with their projects,” said Shipclark, who appreciates the integrated nature of the ALUS program.

“The ALUS Program Coordinator initiates contact with a farmer and starts looking at a project. If Kawartha Conservation has an existing program that fits, we match those together. It’s still early days, but that’s the vision—and we’re starting to see it happen,” she said.

Alyssa Cousineau, ALUS Elgin’s Program Coordinator, conducted a project tour as part of a day-long workshop for collaborators in ALUS Canada’s Eastern Hub. On this site, Cousineau spoke about wetland maintenance, stressing how and why to control the invasive species, Phragmites australis.
Alyssa Cousineau, ALUS Elgin’s Program Coordinator, conducted a project tour as part of a day-long workshop for collaborators in ALUS Canada’s Eastern Hub. On this site, Cousineau spoke about wetland maintenance, stressing how and why to control the invasive species, Phragmites australis.

Shipclark, Ciparis and the whole group toured three ALUS Elgin sites, showcasing wetland, grassland and sediment-control projects that were established by ALUS in collaboration with several partner organizations, including Long Point Region Conservation Authority, Catfish Creek Conservation Authority, Elgin Clean Water Program, Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association and Ducks Unlimited Canada.

Indeed, working with different agencies is a critical part of the job for many ALUS Program Coordinators. “By working with environmental organizations in the area, we’re able to increase our capacity to implement new projects,” says ALUS Elgin Coordinator Alyssa Cousineau. “They help increase our technical knowledge, so we’re able to provide the most ecosystem services we can for our community.”

At the end of the day, this event was the perfect occasion for ALUS Canada, its partner organizations and all its collaborators to work together. “We identified actions for moving forward with an even more cohesive and collaborative network across all ALUS communities in Ontario,” said Whitelock.

With continued support from these important organizations, ALUS will continue to deliver a highly integrated and efficient program, working with farmers and ranchers to produce ecosystem services in local communities.

Acknowledgements
This ALUS Canada Eastern Hub workshop was made possible thanks to funding support from the Government of Ontario, via the Ontario Trillium Foundation. It was hosted by ALUS Canada in partnership with Ontario Nature. Thank you to ALUS Elgin for organizing the project tour, and to the New Sarum Diner for providing a fantastic lunch and venue. We’d also like to thank each organization for participating in the workshop and, as always, for working so effectively with the ALUS program in Ontario.

IMG_9354-pixlr


Pride and Hard Work

ALUS WUQWATR participants Murray and Warren Wild steward acres of native grasslands, wetlands and riparian zones in Saskatchewan.

Murray Wild
“The Wilds really understand the importance of native grasslands for boosting biodiversity,” says ALUS WUQWATR coordinator Folly Baugh (on right), with ALUS WUQWATR participant Murray Wild (centre) and Nadia Mori of Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Agriculture (on left). “They were converting tame pasture to native grasses even before they knew about ALUS!”

ALUS WUQWATR participants Murray and Warren Wild grow grain and oilseeds and manage livestock on their mixed farm near Last Mountain Lake, Saskatchewan.

They are also proud stewards of acres of native grasslands, wetlands and riparian zones to boost biodiversity, protect water quality and produce many other ecosystem services important to the community at large.

Soon after expanding the family’s construction business to pursue their passion for agriculture, the brothers began to understand the importance of balancing the needs of the environment with their farming practices.

They started working to increase the biodiversity of their pasturelands, a path that led them straight to ALUS.

“The Wilds really understand the importance of native grasslands for boosting biodiversity,” says ALUS WUQWATR coordinator Folly Baugh. “They were converting tame pasture to native grasses even before they knew about ALUS! They’ve had very good success with their native seed mixes.”

Since 2017, ALUS has helped the Wilds plant 30 acres of native grasses and forages, following a creek that meanders across their land.

wetland
Since 2017, ALUS has helped the Wilds plant 30 acres of native grasses and forages, following a creek that meanders across their land. They also enhanced more than three acres of wetlands and another three acres of riparian buffer zones, by stabilizing stream banks and seeding salt-tolerant grass species to help reduce the salinity of the land.

They also enhanced more than three acres of wetlands and another three acres of riparian buffer zones, by stabilizing stream banks and seeding salt-tolerant grass species to help reduce the salinity of the land.

The riparian area is a transitional zone between land, such as a farm field or pasture, and water, such as a stream, slough, wetland, river or lake. When enhanced and properly managed, it can filter sediment and pollutants from surface water, to help produce cleaner water for the community.

“It’s great to see shorebirds using those riparian zones,” says Murray Wild.

Returning the riparian area to a healthy functioning state with adjacent native grasses is an important part of improving water quality—not just on the Wild’s property and their surroundings,  but also downstream in Last Mountain Lake, an important recreational destination.

In July 2018, ALUS WUQWATR organized a tour of the Wild brothers’ ALUS projects, giving them the opportunity to show off the hard work and pride that has gone into each acre of their ALUS projects.

While on site, Murray Wild and the group discussed the importance of ongoing project management to maintain a healthy functioning landscape that produces ecosystem services, such as cleaner air, cleaner water and more wildlife habitat.

Murray Wild group
In July 2018, ALUS WUQWATR participants Murray and Warren Wild hosted a tour of the ALUS projects on their mixed farm near Last Mountain Lake, Saskatchewan. Here, from left to right: Nadia Mori (Range Management Extension Specalist at Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Agriculture), Murray Wild (ALUS WUQWATR participant), Lori Muric (Technician, Lower Qu’Appelle Watershed Stewards) and Folly Baugh (ALUS WUQWATR Program Coordinator), pause a moment while discussing the progress of the Wild brothers’ native grasslands project.

Making Great Strides

ALUS Lacombe County hosted their first-ever public tour in July 2018

A great time was had by all on the ALUS Lacombe tour, celebrating the first year of this program. (Photo: Kim Barkwell)
A great time was had by all on the ALUS Lacombe tour, celebrating the first year of this program. (Photo: Kim Barkwell)

ALUS is making great strides in Lacombe County. The ALUS Lacombe County program only came into being in January 2017, and yet they were ready to host their first-ever public tour of ALUS projects in their community on July 4, 2018.

During ALUS Lacombe County’s first year of operation in 2017, four farmers and ranchers signed up to participate, together enrolling 97 acres into the program. The 2018 tour showcased three of these ALUS project sites, located in the beautiful plains of central Alberta.

Program Coordinator Jalene Makus welcomed a large group of 52 people from for a full-day visit of ALUS projects as great examples of ALUS Lacombe County program’s top priorities: the conservation and enhancement of waterways, wetlands and forested areas to improve water quality in local lakes.

“The aim of this event was to show the public what we are doing with the ALUS program in Lacombe County, and get more people interested in participating,” said Makus. “I think getting people out to see the ALUS projects on the ground really encourages people to come forward with their own project ideas.”

The majority of the people in attendance were local landowners, who joined with coordinators of other ALUS programs in Alberta such as Kim Barkwell of ALUS Wetaskiwin-Leduc, as well as ALUS Lacombe PAC members, Lacombe County councilors and staffers, the Red Deer River Watershed Alliance, and representatives of other communities interested in ALUS such as Rocky View County.

At the first stop on the tour, the group visited ALUS participant Roger Marcil. After expanding his parents farm in 1982, Roger now enjoys being semi-retired and farming 480 acres of land as Marcil Farms.

ALUS Lacombe participant Roger Marcil describes his ALUS wetland-protection project and the duck nesting structures he maintains to boost waterfowl habitat.
ALUS Lacombe participant Roger Marcil describes his ALUS wetland-protection project and the duck nesting structures he maintains to boost waterfowl habitat.

For their first project, the Marcils enrolled eight acres situated around a wetland into the ALUS program. They converted six of these acres from annual cropland to perennial hay, and planted 200 native trees (poplar, spruce and red osier dogwood) in the remaining two acres.

In just one year, these ALUS projects have helped to reduce sediment in the wetland and produce cleaner water, cleaner air and excellent wildlife habitat.

“Roger recognizes the value on wildlife on the landscape,” said Makus. During the tour, Roger brought a duck hen house out of the wetland to demonstrate its construction and maintenance to the group.

Next, the tour visited Ted and Betty Everenden in Bentley, Alberta, who are maintaining an eight-acre ALUS project to fight soil erosion.

“Before we put in this ALUS project, there was quite a lot of soil which nearly filled up the culvert during the spring runoff—we saw our soil in the highway intersection a kilometre away!” said Betty Everenden.

“We seeded this area back into perennial forage to combat soil erosion, and one year later, the runoff is clear, with no visible soil displacement.”

“We seeded this area back into perennial forage to combat soil erosion, and one year later, the runoff is clear, with no visible soil displacement,” said ALUS Lacombe participant Betty Everenden
“We seeded this area back into perennial forage to combat soil erosion, and one year later, the runoff is clear, with no visible soil displacement,” said ALUS Lacombe participant Betty Everenden

For the last stop on the tour, the group visited Rob Williams, another of ALUS Lacombe County’s first-ever participants, who showcased a fascinating ALUS project known as an eco-buffer.

This 1,200 metre long strip contained 6,500 seedlings of prickly rose, raspberry, wolf willow, red osier dogwood, white birch and other species, which were planted in cooperation with the AgroForestry and Woodlot Extension Society (AWES).

When it is mature, the eco-buffer will provides wildlife habitat and a windbreak around the perimeter of the farm.

Williams values both wildlife and water on the landscape.

“I lived in Texas for 25 years,” Williams recalls, “and the preoccupation there was to keep water ON your land. Here in Alberta, people try to move water OFF their land as quickly as possible. Texas is nice, but don’t want Canada to become dry like Texas!”

When it is mature, this 1,200 metre ecobuffer will provide wildlife habitat and a windbreak around the perimeter of ALUS Lacombe participant’s Rob Williams’ farm. It contains 6,500 seedlings of native woody species, like prickly rose, raspberry, wolf willow, red osier dogwood and white birch. (Photo: Kim Barkwell)
When it is mature, this 1,200 metre ecobuffer will provide wildlife habitat and a windbreak around the perimeter of ALUS Lacombe participant’s Rob Williams’ farm. It contains 6,500 seedlings of native woody species, like prickly rose, raspberry, wolf willow, red osier dogwood and white birch. (Photo: Kim Barkwell)

Overall, a great time was had by all on the ALUS Lacombe tour, celebrating the first year of the program.

“It was a great first year for us,” said Makus. “We are proud to show everyone some of the great projects we established in 2017, and we are looking forward to growing this program even more. Each of these ALUS projects will lead to significant environmental impacts for the County as a whole.”

 


Stay Connected