Building on family legacy, Marc Bercier manages the landscape for the benefit of his community and future generations.
ALUS team members visit Marc’s project in St.Isidore during the October 2022 Prairie Jamboree.
Marc Bercier is a famer and businessman who’s driven to find the next big opportunity for the family enterprise. Along with his son Guillaume Bercier and Guillaume’s partner Karine, Marc operates La Ferme Agriber Inc., a 2,800-acre farm and seed operation in St. Isidore, Ontario. Marc farms cash crops and was an early adopter of both soy and hemp. Always looking to identify new market opportunities, Marc saw the value their farm could derive from pursuing restoration projects with ALUS.
For Marc, family, the environment and farming are all intertwined. He has fond memories of spending time on his father’s farm as a child. Back then, farming was a part-time endeavor. Producers would recede into the forest during the winter months to cut wood, clear land and sell lumber.
Marc’s stunning wetland restoration project
Marc’s grandfather was a lumberjack, and in the winter, he helped clear local land for farming. A fond memory of Marc’s is going with his grandfather and brother to fish in nearby Scotch Creek. Unfortunately, regional land management practices affected the river and the fish disappeared from the location years ago. The loss of the fish from the local ecosystem sticks in Marc’s mind, a reminder that land management is deeply tied to the places we live.
“If we want things to be better, we had best make opportunities to achieve that,” says Marc.
Marc has been working with ALUS Ontario East since September 2013, when he started planning for his first ALUS project, converting a ravine between his property and a newly bought parcel of land into a natural area. This wetland has become a small haven for wildlife in St. Isidore. Since creating this habitat, Marc and his family often see herons, ducks and hawks utilizing the habitat. Wildflowers and native plants erupt each year, painting a colorful scene within the fields. The Berciers now share this space with the next generation, making family memories skating in the ravine during winter.
In addition to this project, Marc has also planted trees along his property, and he hopes to expand the riparian area, nearly doubling the already sizable wetland.
“Since we have been involved with ALUS, the natural habitat has grown and lots of people have come to visit, learn and participate. My family and I have seen how quick you can re-establish natural habitat on your farm,” says Marc. “It will create a win-win situation, for the natural habitat and farming.”
Marc’s motivation for creating and maintaining ALUS projects is driven by an ethos of respect and responsibility for future generations. Having seen and experienced the biological deterioration of Scotch Creek, among other areas, Marc is concerned about the health of the environment in his community.
In recent years, regions like St. Isidore along the Ottawa river have experienced extreme flooding. Marc knows that agriculture plays a role in land management, a role that can improve habitat for species like the birds or fish, help sequester carbon and nutrients and help prevent flooding. Marc’s wetland project has inspired other farmers to take an active role in addressing these challenges and creating positive change on a larger scale.
People like Marc and other ALUS participants in St. Isidore and across the country see how they can steward the land, creating outcomes that unite them with future generations and improve the health of their agricultural lands.
“If you want to change something, you can’t just talk about it. You take action. You plant a tree.”
Learning from over a hundred years of local, intergenerational farming experience, Marc has helped share agricultural and land management practices throughout the region. Marc has supported the restoration of certain areas within his community and has even planted trees along Scotch Creek where he once fished as a child.
In 2020, Marc was awarded the Dave Reid Award, as a recognition of his importance within the ALUS community. Marc is a shining example of the transformative impact that individuals can have on the environment.