More than 100 people gathered at Springview Farm in Waterford, Ontario, today to celebrate the Ontario relaunch of ALUS Canada, a national program that funds farmers and ranchers producing clean air, clean water, pollinator habitat and other ecosystem services.
Guest speakers included MP Diane Finley, MPP Toby Barrett’s representative Jeff Helsdon, Mayor Charlie Luke, ALUS Norfolk PAC chair Chris Van Paassen, and ALUS participant Tracey Boerkamp, of Springview Farm.
“Since 2007, ALUS Canada has invested nearly $1.6 million in Ontario’s ALUS communities, where participants are now devoting nearly 1,800 acres to producing ecosystem services for all Ontarians,” said ALUS Canada executive director, Bryan Gilvesy.
Today, the ALUS program announced its Ontario relaunch as ALUS Canada, an independent not-for-profit organization supported by The W. Garfield Weston Foundation. Gilvesy unveiled the organization’s new branding and new website. “ALUS is rapidly expanding,” said Gilvesy. “There are now 20 ALUS communities in six provinces. And with our Quebec launch on August 10, ALUS is becoming bilingual and truly national.”
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 corn and soy cash crop operation with a golf course on part of the property.
Guests toured one Springview Farm ALUS project where native trees, shrubs, grasses and wildflowers were planted in 2008. Today, this project produces habitat for pollinators, birds and beneficial insects, and controls wind erosion on a fragile sand plain to help improve water quality in Norfolk County.
“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.”