In 2015, we launched a project we call Clear Water & Butterflies. With support from the Fondation de la faune du Québec and a variety of agricultural, environmental and local government actors, we will be working to augment the biodiversity of 2.5 acres of our land bordering on Pike River North (Rivière aux brochets nord), a local tributary of the Pike River (Rivière aux brochets) which flows from Lake Carmi, Vermont through the neighbouring countryside from Frelighsburg through Stanbridge East, all the way to the Missisquoi Bay of Lake Champlain.
The Pike River watershed (65 km2) cuts across prime agricultural land (45% of the land it encompasses is zoned agricultural). Clear Water & Butterflies is designed to counter riverside degradation resulting from industrial agriculture, including the widespread eradication of native species of perennial plants, shrinking habitats for threatened migratory species such as monarch butterflies and the devastating effects of neonicotinoid systemic pesticides on pollinators, particularly bees. One objective of the project is to preserve/augment the already significant banks of milkweed and goldenrod on the site. A second objective is to contribute to increased activity by pollinators of all kinds (monarch butterflies, bees and others). A third objective is to improve water quality.
The project is in a continuum with other riverside biodiversity restoration/remediation projects undertaken by conventional farmers in the region in recent years. However, as organic farmers and members of the Mont Pinacle Land Trust (Fiducie foncière du mont Pinacle), an environmental agency with a long history of ecological activism in the MRC of Brome Missisquoi, we are proposing that it also serve as a pilot project for a series of coordinated projects twinning restorative and conservation projects in the Pike River watershed, with a particular focus on agricultural land.
In 2015, we had students from the regional highs school come to the farm, not once, but twice…they came, they planted, they left. You can be inspired by their hard work here. Stay tuned for more on this project in 2016.