Traits & Stewardship
Danone brand Silk invests in restoration of Canadian farmland
By Stephanie Gordon
[This article was originally published on Fruit & Vegetable magazine’s website.]
Silk, a Canadian brand for plant-based products like soymilk, partnered with ALUS Canada to restore 90 acres of farmland in seven communities across Canada.
The brand, a subsidiary of Danone Canada, committed $100,000 to ALUS Canada’s New Acre Project. The New Acre Project supports farmers to restore grasslands, wetlands and forests on uneconomic or sensitive parcels of land identified by farmers. The 90 acres refers to the total number of acres of marginal lands that will be restored over the next seven years.
“Silk will help support a network of farmers and ranchers in three provinces (Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec) to use their land in an alternative way to produce ecosystem services that will benefit Canadians,” the announcement from Silk read.
The projects will help provide improved water quality and watershed health, new habitats for wildlife and pollinators, improved carbon storage in soil and landscape resilience.
According to ALUS Canada, this number – the 90 acres – does not include acres that are part of the traditional farming operation but refer to the uneconomic or sensitive parcels of land specifically. “For example, if a farm has 300 acres producing soy and 10 acres enrolled in the program as a wetland, New Acre Project would count only the 10 acres. ALUS will not enrol more than 20 per cent of the total operation,” the organization explained in an email.
ALUS Canada helps farmers and ranchers restore wetlands, reforest, plant windbreaks, install riparian buffers, manage sustainable drainage systems, create pollinator habitat and establish other ecologically beneficial projects on their properties. ALUS also provides per-acre annual payments to ALUS participants to recognize their dedication to managing and maintaining ALUS projects on their land.
“In some cases, the projects are established on fallow lands, and in others the farmer has determined that the land, which is in production, is uneconomic. The farmer is always the person who decides they wish to enrol the land into the program,” ALUS Canada says.
Specifically, the $100,000 investment from Silk will support seven projects in the ALUS communities of: Lac Ste. Anne County, Alta., Red Deer County, Alta., Norfolk County, Ont., Middlesex County, Ont., Elgin County, Ont., Cornwall area, Ont. and Montérégie, Que.
Farmers and ranchers will benefit from data management and programming, as well as cost-sharing for project establishment, technical expertise on project design, implementation and maintenance, annual per-acre payments for management and maintenance of projects, and outreach and extension services.
The New Acre Project includes all types and sizes of farming operations, but the Silk sponsorship gives preference to oat and soybean farmers.
The New Acre Project will provide Silk with annual progress reports on key performance indicators, such as overall biodiversity gained, percentage increase in beneficial insects, nutrient retention for water quality improvements, soil organic carbon accumulated in restored marginal lands when planted in permanent cover, and total standing biomass. Silk has stated that the company intends to share these reports publicly.
“We want to thank Danone for their investment in the New Acre Project. We strive to sustain agriculture, wildlife and natural spaces one acre at a time, and today’s funding announcement will help us achieve this goal,” said Katherine Balpataky, who leads the New Acre Project as ALUS Canada’s director of corporate partnerships and business development, in a media release.