At the Crump farm near Ilderton, runoff from 400 nearby acres, grazing by too many cattle and an elevation change of 35 feet in a short distance led to a strained ecosystem.
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Now, Chris and Vivian Crump have added wetlands, created more controlled grazing, managed the runoff from the barns and farmyard, planted 2,500 trees and created grassed waterways.
Why it matters: Farmers find funding programs help them invest in improving the environment on their properties.
The result, says Chris Crump, is a much healthier property, with an increase in species at risk including hog-nosed snakes and 46 different kinds of birds, including some rare species like the yellow-headed blackbird.
That success made the Crump farm the chosen site for announcement of $561,000 in funding for ALUS, a charitable group that helps produce, fund and maintain ecosystem services on agricultural lands.
The funding comes from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks and is a part of the larger Species at Risk Stewardship Program.
The three-year funding for ALUS aims to help fund projects in southern Ontario and the Greater Toronto Area.
“I want to thank the team at ALUS Canada for all that you do,” says David Piccini, Ontario minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks. “This is, in my books, the beginning of so much more excitement and shared stewardship that we can do together. Thank you for challenging us as public policymakers to do more, to think bigger.
“More beef farming leads to more habitat for endangered grassland birds like bobolinks and eastern meadowlarks,” says Piccini.
ALUS has delivered more than $12 million in funding to rural Ontario communities, says Bryan Gilvesy, CEO of ALUS Canada. More than 800 farmers have been involved in ALUS projects, including 155 new farmers in the past year. ALUS has benefitted from government funding and from an influx of funds from private sector donors who are interested in ecological goods and services.
“Many of these projects create critical habitat for species at risk. But they do so much more. They provide benefits to water quality and quantity, support pollinators and of course sequester carbon,” says Gilvesy.
“We think the farm produces food, fibre and valuable ecosystem services for the planet. And that’s a new view of the farm that I think is particularly enticing, particularly when you marry that to our marketplace activities that can find revenues for these sorts of things,” says Gilvesy, who is also a beef farmer.
Crump says they couldn’t have changed their farm as they have without funding from ALUS and other projects, such as those through the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association.
The springs that feed into the Sydenham River start on the Crump farm, which is of interest to the local conservation authority. Crump says water flows clearer now off the property as the speed of water passage was slowed and erosion decreased.
The Crump farm is about 96 acres, with about 50 workable. The family sells many products from the farm directly to consumers, including meat, flour made from specialty wheats and oil pressed from their sunflowers. They welcome consumers for sunflower field and alpaca walks.
Chris Crump has for years run Agriculture Ultrasound, a company that pregnancy checks pigs across the province and in other countries. He’s slowed down that business and now focuses on providing services to build wetlands around the countryside, using all that he learned on his own farm and some education from Rutgers University.
Crump says he’s happier living and working on the farm that has a healthier ecosystem, and it’s not a financial challenge to change it.
“I’ve noticed like zero impact on my bottom line,” he says.