ALUS participants Jonathan and Katie MacLennan strive to make a difference in West Cape, Prince Edward Island.
“We’ve seen big changes on our land since we started doing ALUS,” say ALUS participants Jonathan and Katie MacLennan, who run MacLennan Properties Limited, a fourth-generation family farm in West Cape, Prince Edward Island.
Located near the Northumberland Strait, the MacLennan farm grows potatoes, grain and hay alongside the Big Pierre Jacques River, and immediately upstream from Glenwood Pond, a popular angling destination for brook trout where many in the community gather each spring.
As an active community member, and as the co-chair of the West Point and Area Watersheds Association, Jonathan is well aware of the environmental issues affecting water quality in the area.
“As a farmer, I want to do what I can to make sure I’m supporting my community and the environment we all share. The big challenge right across PEI is soil erosion—our soil is highly erodible, so we need to pay a lot of attention to soil conservation,” he says.
ALUS helps the MacLennans implement such projects on their farm. They maintain permanent soil-conservation projects within many of their cultivated fields, such as 6 acres (2.5 ha) of diversion terraces, 2 acres (0.85 ha) of farmable berms, and nearly 8 acres (3 ha) of grassed waterways, and they also maintain permanent grass in 5 acres (2 ha) of steeply sloped parcels of land that were formerly devoted to agricultural production.
All these ALUS projects have the same goal: to produce cleaner water in their community. Without these protections in place, heavy rains can cause the soil to run off a sloped field and into local waterways. To help prevent this, ALUS projects slow, direct and filter the flow of rainwater, and capture the soil before it washes away.
In future, the McLennans plan to do more soil-conservation work through ALUS, and to implement other improvements on their own, such as sowing fall cover crops on more of their potato fields to tie up remaining nutrients and reduce soil erosion over the winter months.
As time goes on, these ALUS participants will keep doing their best to produce cleaner water, cleaner air, more biodiversity, and other ecosystem services for the benefit of their community.
The MacLennans’ commitment to innovation might be a family trait—Jonathan’s late father, Laurids MacLennan, was a highly respected leader in the PEI agricultural industry, and today Jonathan and Katie are always looking for new opportunities to improve sustainability on their farm—they even rent out some of their land for sustainable wind-energy generation.
“It’s very much a work in progress.” says Jonathan. “As a farmer I always think: I can do better. We must do better. And we can, especially with ALUS giving us a hand.”