ALUS Relaunches in Ontario

More than 100 people gathered at Springview Farm in Waterford, Ontario, on August 24, 2016, to celebrate the Ontario relaunch of ALUS Canada, a Weston Family Initiative.

ALUS is a national not-for-profit organization that funds farmers and ranchers producing cleaner air, cleaner water, pollinator habitat and other ecosystem services.

Guest speakers included ALUS Canada’s CEO Bryan Gilvesy, the Hon. Diane Finley, MP for Haldimand-Norfolk, Jeff Helsdon representing the Hon. Toby Barrett, MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk, the Hon. Charlie Luke, Mayor of Norfolk County, ALUS Norfolk PAC Chair Chris Van Paassen, and ALUS participant Tracey Boerkamp, who hosted the event on Springview Farm.

“Since 2007, ALUS Canada has invested nearly $1.6M in Ontario’s ALUS communities, where ALUS participants are now devoting nearly 1,800 acres to producing ecosystem services for all Ontarians,” said Gilvesy.

The program is rapidly expanding, with 20 ALUS communities in six provinces, and more coming aboard. In Ontario, ALUS has grown from the province’s original community in Norfolk Country to a total of five programs: ALUS Elgin, ALUS Grey-Bruce, ALUS Ontario East, and ALUS Lambton.

More than 200 Ontario farmers and ranchers now participate, including the event’s hosts, Tracey and Shelley Boerkamp. who have established several ALUS projects at Springview Farm, a 400-acre corn and soy cash crop operation with a golf course on part of the property.

“It’s been wonderful to see the transformation of our property over the years,” said Boerkamp. “We went from a traditional tobacco farm to a more naturalized site where our grandchildren can enjoy all the natural benefits like butterflies, birds and other wildlife.”

Guests toured this re-naturalized ALUS project, where grasses, wildflowers, trees and shrubs were planted on some of the farm’s former tobacco fields in 2008.

The addition of native prairie grasses as a groundcover provided early successional habitat for the native Carolinian tree species species planted in this ALUS project, including 100 balsam fir, 400 white pine, 400 red oak and 300 black cherry.

Today, the flowering plants provide a food source for native pollinators, birds and beneficial insects, helping to boost biodiversity.

At the same time, the combination of grasses and trees provides an excellent control for wind erosion on the fragile sand plain, which helps improve water quality in Norfolk County.

By producing ecological services for the benefit of the wider community, the Springview Farm ALUS project is a perfect example of the ALUS concept, and the ideal place to celebrate the Ontario relaunch of ALUS Canada, a Weston Family Initiative.

Photos by Andrea Husted, Splash Photography.

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