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County Sustainability Group bursaries honor local farmers

David Prinzen receives $1,000 from CSG’s Don Ross

In its third year of honouring local farmers who best demonstrate the values of ecologically-sound, sustainable farm practices, the County Sustainability Group has presented three bursaries.

Two $1,000 bursaries were presented to County farmers who use sustainable farm practices which regenerate soil health, protect vital resources such as water and biodiversity, reduce the need for synthetic inputs and prioritize renewable energy sources.

“In particular, we are grateful for sustainable farmers who are doing their utmost to protect the health of the land and all living creatures by implementing best practices,” said Don Ross, of the County Sustainability Group. We want this award to demonstrate our gratitude and help their long-term success in the very challenging occupation of farming.

“We especially acknowledge, with this bursary, the challenges faced by young farmers just starting out in organic farming, or trying to maintain or expand an existing operation. This is an expensive undertaking and not for the faint-of-heart. Every little bit can help, perhaps going toward new seeds, greenhouses, equipment, soil revitalization, irrigation, livestock, land leases, renewable energy, or any number of important aspects of modern organic farming.”

Using funds raised in its ongoing rain barrel fundraiser each spring, the CSG was able to award $1,000 to two worthy applicants this year – David Prinzen, of Walkerdale Farm near Milford, and to Neil Usher and Rebecca Sweetman, of Hawkridge Homestead on Morrison Pt Road.

David is a 24-year-old, third generation dairy farmer who has pursued his life-long passion of starting his own farm in Cherry Valley, in April of 2020.

He grows cover crops to feed his 25 milking cows to reduce land usage and improve soil health as well as using minimal tillage. He’s installed a wind turbine in the nearby pond to improve water quality and decrease algae blooms during the summer and he’s done soil samples and submitted a nutrient management plan as well as a soil health plan with the local farm centre.

With these sustainable systems in place, he plans to continue reducing the ecological impact of the dairy operation to make the farm a resilient and ecologically sustainable operation.

Neil Usher and Rebecca Sweetman receive a $1,000 CSG bursary from Don Ross

Neil Usher and Rebecca Sweetman continue to farm using organic, permaculture, and regenerative principles, while also working toward publishing more on their research and experiments in anti-capitalist farming.

They’ll be adding permanent beds in their greenhouse which was their second full winter growing year-round in the unheated high poly tunnel. What they thought would be used as a tool for season extension and an early start on seedlings has proven to be an absolutely vital experiment in radical food security and self sufficiency.

It’s also a partial classroom for their two home-schooled children. Last year, they grew upwards of 100 different crops in the greenhouse alone, not including the seedlings started there to transplant to the gardens outside. They’ll be adding more fruit trees and setting up bee hives as well.

A brand new bursary program for local farmers committed to the principles and practices of organic farming was generously funded by a gift from PEC’s Long Point Honey Company. This annual $500 bursary is awarded by CSG to a farmer who best illustrates sustainable practices to protect, preserve  and promote pollinator health.

CSG’s Don Ross presents Mike Barnes with the new $500 as a farmer who illustrates sustainable practices to protect, preserve and promote pollinator health.

Mike Barnes, of Lambs Quarter Farm, on Talbot St in Picton has been chosen as the winner of this new award for 2022.

Much of the focus on their family farm is with a nod to pollinators like butterflies and native bees in particular. They plant trees and bushes that are especially important for the bees.

The market gardens feature walking rows of white clover cover crops with buckwheat and crimson clover. They feel humbled in their service when it comes to the pollination of all the fruit and vegetables they grow organically and sustainably without pesticides or herbicides. As their sign says “ Growing for Today & Thinking of Tomorrow” is at the heart of what they do.

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  1. Mike Barnes says:

    Grass roots local community support at it’s best. Thank you to all involved!

  2. Mark says:

    Don Ross and his group have been strong for a longtime in supporting the County. Kudos!

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