MIDDLESEX COUNTY, ONTARIO: Through the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF), ALUS participants have undertaken hundreds of acres of environmental restoration projects.
For nearly 3 years, OTF’s Grow Grant has provided $625,100 in funding support wide-ranging environmental impacts across the province including in Chatham-Kent, Elgin, Grey-Bruce, Lambton, Middlsex and Norfolk counties through the respective ALUS program in those areas.
Recognizing the grant’s support for ALUS participants, Jeff Yurek, MPP Elgin-Middlesex-London stated: “I am thrilled to see the positive impacts of ALUS’s projects right here in Elgin-Middlesex-London,” said Jeff Yurek, MPP. “The agricultural sector is one of Ontario’s strongest environmental stewards, and it is critical that we support initiatives like these focused on conservation and environmental resiliency.”
As of March 31, 2021, 312 acres of projects had been established and managed by ALUS participants, with further acres to come through the remainder of the year. Moreover, the OTF funding allowed ALUS to provide community-targeted activities and support services, including pre-covid in-person training and engagement events and online events in the aftermath of the covid-19 pandemic. The aim is to engage and support farmers as community stewardship advocates. The funding also helped ALUS launch the Success with ALUS guidebook series covering management and monitoring of wetland, tree and shrub, grassland and erosion-control projects.
“ALUS relies on support from programs like OTF to deliver targeted, community-focused resources and engagement,” said Casey Schelock, ALUS Associate Director of Development and Operations. “These resources are central to our organization’s ability to reach farmers and ranchers who can work with ALUS to grow their environmental practices.”
Christopher and Vivian Crump are emblematic of the stewardship ethic that farmers across Ontario and Canada bring to ALUS. Chris and Vivian are dedicated to farming and to the land they work.
“The focus has always been on farming. That was our main goal from day one,” said Chris. Everything Chris and Vivian do is in service of making their land, water and the species that exist there better. “We had that huge rain event yesterday and that sediment pond is doing what it’s supposed to do,” said Chris of the wetlands and water control projects he put on his land.
“Today you go down to that crick and you see how clear it is. Before, you’d go down and it’d be a brown stream all the way down. So, it’s working.” Read more about Christopher and Vivian’s work here.
By putting the land to work, ALUS participants create valuable ecosystems wetland, native prairie and reforestation projects that benefit the environment and their communities. Land stewards like Chris and Vivian are not only ALUS participants, but they are also community leaders. With the funding from OTF, ALUS has helped grow the leadership of its participants across the province.
Over the course of the funding, ALUS’ unique, grassroots Partnership Advisory Committees (PACs) have engaged 14 new farmers and established 21 farmers as new farmer liaisons. These farmers liaisons help to determine local ALUS activities with direct input and management guidance from the farmers and ranchers who are on the land doing the work.
The unique strengths of the ALUS model are that it is locally managed and delivered, providing flexible, targeted landscape and management resources to communities who are working for cleaner air, cleaner water, more biodiversity and greater resilience.
ALUS is a national program helping farmers and ranchers produce cleaner air, cleaner water, more biodiversity, and other ecosystem services in their communities. ALUS Canada has disbursed more than $12M in funding to 31 ALUS communities, an investment that is multiplied by farmers, ranchers, and communities on the ground. There are now more than 30,000 acres enrolled in the ALUS program, thanks to more than 1,000 participants in six provinces. www.ALUS.ca