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Farmer saves Ontario snakes

Dale Vranckx standing in front of the snake habitat he built

This is the final story in our Earth Day series this week about farmers doing good things for the environment. Thanks for reading!

Dale Vranckx standing in front of the snake habitat he builtThe north shore of Lake Erie is a known habitat for the Eastern Fox Snake, Ontario’s second largest snake species.

It’s protected under the province’s Endangered Species Act, so when Dale Vranckx saw them on his Norfolk County farm, he wanted to do what he could to help bring back the population.

His solution was to build hibernacula – protected areas on his property where the snakes could overwinter safely. Continue reading Farmer saves Ontario snakes

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Certified hay protects endangered birds

Many of Ontario’s species at risk – such as grassland birds – make their homes in farmers’ fields.

In honour of Earth Day this week, here’s a glimpse at a program that lets rural landowners do their part to protect those species.

Attempts to protect habitats for grassland birds can be a hard sell to farmers, especially if it involves taking existing fields out of production.

Credit Valley Conservation (CVC), however, is hoping for a more positive response to a project that it has just launched to expand habitat areas for endangered grassland bird species like the Bobolink and Eastern Meadowlark.

That’s because it involves bringing former farmland back into agricultural production by linking non-farming landowners with local farmers who are interested in growing hay for horse or other livestock owners who want later-cut hay. Continue reading Certified hay protects endangered birds

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New water storage decreases ground water use

Botanix Oxford Instashade - garden centre

This is the third article in a series this week where we’re profiling Ontario farmers and some of their on-farm environmental improvements – in honour of Earth Day, of course.

Botanix Oxford Instashade - garden centreThe hot, dry summer of 2012 was the tipping point for Oxford County farmer Jan Veldhuizen, who was using up to 6,000 gallons (22,700 litres) of water a day to keep his tree nursery and garden centre going.

Veldhuizen was pulling water directly from the ground through the small well on his property, and he knew he needed to better manage his water supply in a way that was good for both his business and the environment. Continue reading New water storage decreases ground water use

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Purifiying vineyard waste the natural way

Constructed wetland in a Nigara vineyard helps treat waste

This is the second in a series of stories showcasing the innovative things Ontario farmers are doing on their farms to improve the environment – in honour of Earth Day.

Constructed wetland in a Nigara vineyard helps treat wasteTough new regulations governing vineyard waste management meant the owners of Sixteen Mile Cellar in the Niagara Region had some tough choices to make.

Previously, small estate wineries were allowed to store the liquids and residues from their grape crush on-farm and then haul them away.

The rule change now requires waste treatment facilities on site, which can get very expensive very fast. Continue reading Purifiying vineyard waste the natural way

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Community & sustainability at heart of local blueberry farm

This is the week we mark Earth Day, on Tuesday to be exact.

Many of us give a bit more thought to the environment this week or do a few extra things to mark this day. And those are all good things.

Farmers, in my opinion, have a special relationship with the environment, a stronger bond if you will.

They work with the soil and the water every day to grow crops and raise livestock – and unlike most of the rest of us, they also live where they work.

That’s just the way farming is, and this makes them all the more aware of what’s going on with the environment and of the need to be good to it.

This week, in honour of Earth Day, I will be introducing you to some of the many Ontario farmers I’ve met over the years and sharing with you some of the unique and interesting things they’re doing on their farms where the environment is concerned.

Sometimes it’s a better farming practice to save time or money (or both!), other times it’s purely for the good of the world around – and most times, it’s a little bit of both. Continue reading Community & sustainability at heart of local blueberry farm

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