Farmers can be incredibly humble and don’t always take credit for the good work they do on the farm, so others outside of their circles don’t always know the full extent of the stewardship work that farmers do every day on their farms. But there are innovative stewards in ag; look at CleanFARMS as an example.
CleanFARMS is best known for operating its successful empty pesticide and fertilizer container program. Since 1989, over 100 million containers have been collected at 1,000 collection sites across the country. The program is funded by Canada’s leading pesticide and fertilizer manufacturers, distributors and retailers.
The industry, along with the farmers they serve, overwhelmingly support this type of program because it is part of their commitment to full lifecycle stewardship. It allows us to divert plastic out of landfills, which can be recycled into materials like farm drainage tile, and ensures the health and longevity of farms and their communities.
So, CleanFARMS set out to increase awareness of on-farm stewardship with the Great Manitoba Clean Farms Challenge, encouraging farmers to share stories on how they look after the environment. It also serves as an opportunity to highlight some of the innovative tools that farmers have developed.
Manitobans of all ages got into the spirit and the end result was four excellent stories of practical on-farm stewardship and a reminder of the ongoing commitment Manitobans have to sustainable farming.
The grand prize winner was Turner Farms from Killarney, Manitoba. Doug and Betty Turner demonstrated a truly integrated approach to sustainability that covers habitat, recycling, and conservation and have made business decisions that incorporate good stewardship practices.
Rounding out the finalists were Austin Pizzey, a grade 11 student from Binscarth, Bell Century Farms’ Amy and Jamie Bell from Birtle, and the Ellis Family from Black Creek Farms of Wawanesa. Read their stories at www.cleanfarms.ca.
Encouraging farmers to share stories of on-farm stewardship is important to the team at CleanFARMS. Successful end-of-life stewardship requires participation from the entire value chain, but farmers play a special role as front-line stewards who ultimately make it happen… and quite frankly, no one can tell it better.
CleanFARMS will be bringing the challenge east in 2015 where Ontario farmers will be asked to share what they do best.