Currie McIntosh; Happily Creating Habitat at Haywood Farms

The McIntosh family is promoting biodiversity through their environmental projects on their farm in Ontario 

Carl Atkinson on his farm with a wetland in the background.
Currie McIntosh stands in front of the stormwater retention pond project he constructed with ALUS in 2020

In the fall of 2023, farmers and ranchers visited various ALUS participants and their ALUS projects around Cornwall, Ontario, as part of the Agri-Action Stewardship Tour hosted by ALUS Ontario East. Currie McIntosh, owner and operator of Haywood Farms, a 160-acre cash crop operation in the Township of South Glengarry, contributed to host part of the tour. In a region renowned for its prominent equestrian industry, Haywood Farms long sold hay to neigh-bouring farms. And for nearly 25 years, Currie and his wife Donna have been leasing part of their land for cash crops, like corn and soy.  

With the support of ALUS Ontario East, the McIntosh family has implemented various nature-based solutions on their farm. Like many ALUS participants, the McIntoshes started with one project and then quickly saw the benefits, adding several more projects in the coming years. 

“It’s been a number of very, very happy projects. And they kind of just snowballed from one to the next,” says Currie.   

First, the McIntoshes constructed a fencing and hedgerow project in 2017. Next, they implemented a strategic windbreak project and then a large wetland project in 2020. Finally, this wetland was supported by the addition of trees and shrubs, offering more wildlife habitat and great soil stability to the wetland’s banks. The McIntoshes also planted additional trees and shrubs around a natural riparian area on the front of their property. Altogether, these ALUS projects have fostered a notable increase in wildlife. And for Currie and Donna, they loved the additional beauty these natural features brought to their property. 

“It quite full of a bountiful amount of wildlife, including Scarlet Tanagers and Baltimore Orioles and nice birds of that nature,” says Currie McIntosh.  


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Photo depicts a Scarlet Tanager, one of the stunning species that can be found at Haywood Farms! Photo by Emma Gignac 

In addition to what they’ve created with ALUS, the McIntosh family has conserved a substantial woodlot on their property. Through these projects, the McIntoshes have created a harmonious landscape that supports biodiversity and natural resilience on their working farm.  

Currie always recognized the thin layer of topsoil on his property, and before any involvement with ALUS, he had a clear understanding of the advantages of trees and windbreaks added to the agricultural landscape.

Currie observed the widespread adoption of windbreaks in other countries, where the practice is more commonplace. When local lands were cleared, he witnessed firsthand how they had been mitigating the impact of wind on the soil in his immediate vicinity. 

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Last fall, Currie welcomed participants from Ontario East’s Agri-Action tour to visit his project sites. He wanted to showcase the beneficial impacts the projects have had on his property. Participants visited his wetland project and learned about the various experiences Currie has had with the different projects he has implemented. As a local advocate for environmental resilience, Currie’s story inspired many, leaving them dreaming of the possibilities of improvement of their own properties. 

Currie recommends ALUS to others whenever he gets the chance.    

“I can’t save the world, but I can save a little piece of it for as long as I can,” says Currie.  

The McIntosh family’s involvement with ALUS highlights a very interesting aspect of the ALUS model – the commitment of individual landowners to a larger network of farmers and ranchers who recognize the benefits a resilient environment offers to their operations, their communities and to the natural world. 

For more information, contact your local ALUS Coordinator! 


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