MONTAGUE, Oct. 27, 2023 – Local farmers, politicians and sustainability advocates came together with a common goal on Saturday, Oct. 21: to celebrate a new program supporting farmers in Lanark County.
ALUS Lanark was officially launched at Milkhouse Farm + Dairy in Montague during the sheep farm’s popular Open Farm event. Officials from Lanark County, Climate Network Lanark, Rideau Valley Conservation Authority (RVCA) and Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority (MVCA) joined Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston MPP John Jordan, Ducks Unlimited staff, neighbouring farmers and other guests to tour the farm and learn more about its new ALUS project, one of the first to be completed in the county.
Milkhouse owners Cait and Kyle White worked with ALUS Lanark to add two new wetlands in areas where it was already too wet to mow or graze their sheep. ALUS Lanark covered construction costs and will provide annual compensation for the ecosystem services the wetlands provide, such as cleaner air and water.
“We saw an opportunity to create some habitat that would contribute to a more interesting and diverse farm,” said Kyle White, who sells their cheese, grass-fed lamb and wool products at the Ottawa Farmers’ Market. “It's been great for us. We always wanted to create these wetlands, but we needed the financial support to get it done."
Guests could see the completed wetlands were already hard at work storing runoff, filtering contaminants and providing flood storage.
“This is really a win-win for everyone,” said Derek Matheson, ALUS Lanark co-ordinator for RVCA. “Farmers can put otherwise marginal land to work while supporting better water quality and a healthier environment.”
ALUS is a national non-profit organization that works with local farmers to help them undertake environmental stewardship projects on their farms. ALUS communities are overseen by local partnership advisory committees (PACs) and administered by local organizations. In the case of ALUS Lanark, RVCA and MVCA administer programs on the ground alongside their other longstanding stewardship programs.
The push to bring the program to Lanark County was spearheaded by Climate Network Lanark, which got Lanark County officials on board before approaching the conservation authorities to administer the program. Since the program was officially created in January 2022, ALUS Lanark has recruited a PAC comprised of local farmers, business owners and residents, and set project priorities for the county. Matheson and his MVCA counterpart Marissa Okum have already sought out and approved 26 projects to receive ALUS funding, for a total projects value of more than $202,000. More than half those costs have been covered by ALUS Lanark, with RVCA, Ducks Unlimited and Environment and Climate Change Canada covering almost everything else.
To learn more about ALUS Lanark or to apply, visit https://www.rvca.ca/stewardship-grants/rural-clean-water-grants/clean-water-grants