The Van Gronigan Farm
Beechwood Farm was previously owned and operated by the Shand Family before it was purchased by Wayne Van Gronigan in 1994. The corner that the farm is located on is referred to locally as Shand’s Corner, in homage to the family that farmed the land for over 8 generations. Heavy horses and a dairy herd had been raised on the land however, at the time of purchase the farm was strictly in cash cropping rotation. When livestock left the farm and the land was put into cash cropping washouts became a prominent feature on the sloping landscape. When the Van Gronigan Family purchased the farm their first objective was to ensure the erosion and loss of topsoil did not continue. Permanent vegetative cover was established and the addition of livestock has helped to return organic matter to the soil and develop nutritious pasture for livestock feed.
The Van Gronigan farm is almost entirely in pasture, with the remaining lands containing beautiful Beech and Maple climax forests buffering a tributary to Black Creek. The Van Groningen Family owns and operates VG Meats and they have been serving Norfolk area families with home grown beef since 1969. Cattle are raised and processed on the farm and the meat is sold locally through their on farm butcher shop and store. Please visit their website http://www.vgmeats.ca to learn more about how this family is producing high quality, local beef, while maintaining a commitment to sustainable agricultural practises and their local environment.
The Van Gronigan Family first heard of the ALUS concept and Norfolk ALUS Pilot Project while attending a presentation from Bryan Gilvesy, ALUS Chair, at a Norfolk Cattleman’s Association event. When asked what sparked the family’s interest in participating in ALUS Cory Van Gronigan, one of three brothers running the family operation spoke to the benefits of ALUS for both the farmer and land:
“We feel that programs like ALUS have a tremendous potential to create the relationship that our society now demands. Farmers have always been stewards of the land because the land provides farmers with their income. The ALUS program provides support and knowledge and compensation for the positive externalities that farmers were never recognized for in the past. International trade has created an environment in which farmers were being told that they needed to become more efficient, however externalities were not calculated into a farmer’s efficiency.”
The Van Gronigan’s contacted the ALUS Coordinator in the winter of 2008 to inquire about project possibilities on areas of their farm. The Van Gronigan family worked closely with ALUS and LPRCA staff to identify areas of the farm suitable for habitat creation projects that would make the largest positive impact. A particularly steep and erosion prone corner of pasture was fenced off and planted with native Carolinian tree species to alleviate erosion and increase existing forest cover for wildlife habitat.
On the south east corner of the farm a permanent sediment basin was created in a natural water run to capture field run off. The objective of the sediment basin was to allow for sediment and nutrients to settle out before runoff water reaches the outlet and enters a tributary stream to Black Creek. In addition, the sediment basin will also capture runoff during storm events which will help to decrease peak flows, alleviate downstream erosion, provide water retention and wetland habitat. Over time, as natural aquatic vegetation establishes, water filtration services will increase as the plants begin to play an active role in the uptake of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous.
The area around the sediment basin was planted with trees and shrubs to establish permanent vegetation cover for erosion control and wildlife habitat. A Wood Duck box was installed this winter and a Mallard henhouse donated by Delta Waterfowl will be installed in April to encourage nesting waterfowl. The sediment basin was dug in the fall of 2009 and though it is still early, the Van Gronigan’s know that the changes made on the farm will have a positive impact on the quality of the water leaving their operation and heading downstream. As for wildlife, the wetland was full of life this past year and the Van Gronigan’s look forward to watching the site grow and change.
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 08 February 2011 16:09 )