Koos and Nathalie Vermue win Conservation Award
Bayfield-area farmers Koos and Nathalie Vermue recognized for stewardship efforts with Conservationist of the Year Award
Ausable Bayfield Conservation presented annual award at March 21, 2019 Partner Appreciation Evening held at Ironwood Golf Club east of Exeter
Koos and Nathalie Vermue, agricultural producers from the Bayfield area, were honoured by Ausable Bayfield Conservation with the Conservationist of the Year Award at a March 21, 2019 partner appreciation evening. Doug Cook, Vice Chair of the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) Board of Directors, presented the award to this year’s winners at the event held at Ironwood Golf Club. The award recipients received a handcrafted award made by Bob Hutson, of Windbreak Farm (windbreakfarm.ca) Custom Woodworks near Fullarton, Ontario. The engraved dual-purpose board is a piece of art on one side and a serving tray on the other and is made from reclaimed wood and select local hardwoods. In addition to the award prize, Ausable Bayfield Conservation will make a donation towards a tree and plaque at a Commemorative Woods site. The award winners also received scrolls recognizing their accomplishment from Huron-Bruce MP Ben Lobb; and Hon. Lisa M. Thompson, MPP, Huron-Bruce.
Abigail Gutteridge, Healthy Watersheds Technician, introduced the award winners, and praised their record of stewardship of the land. “On one particular visit to the Vermue farm, Koos said to me ‘If you are good to the land, it will be good to you.’ I think that is their philosophy and I think it’s a sentiment we can all get behind,” she said. The presenter spoke to the winners’ positive attitude, their valuable support for research efforts, their soil and nutrient management, and the time they take to educate others. “A number of the staff, myself included, have been privileged to work with Koos and Nathalie for more than 15 years,” Gutteridge said. “Any opportunity they have to improve soil health and, in turn, improve water quality they take those opportunities. We are very excited to be able to present this award to them tonight.”
The Vermues live on Bayfield River Road and have property in Main Bayfield and Bayfield North watersheds (two priority areas and ‘sentinel’ watersheds along Lake Huron’s southeast shore). These local stewards plant cover crops; and use agricultural best management practices (BMPs); careful management of nutrients; erosion control measures to slow down field runoff during large rain and snowmelt events; and a mix of no-till and conservation tillage. They have created at least 15 berms in the past 15 years; planted many acres of cover crops; and completed a wetland enhancement project (which allows sediment to settle out to reduce potential impacts on Bayfield River and Lake Huron). Koos and Nathalie have contributed to water and soil research, since 2011, by including automatic water samplers at a water and sediment control basin and recording of cover crops and snow.
The Vermues also work to build awareness in the community of positive land stewardship and of sustainable agriculture. They have hosted tours and school classes on their farm to help others learn about farming and stewardship. Koos was a member of the Main Bayfield Watershed Plan Advisory Committee. Nathalie is a member of Women for the Support of Agriculture (Huron/Perth Chapter).
The Partner Appreciation Evening was attended by more than 70 people and included a keynote talk by Trevor Dickinson, Professor Emeritus, University of Guelph, who spoke on Climate Change and Development in Rural Areas: Impacts on Streamflow and Floods in Southern Ontario.
The local conservation authority also presented years of service awards to staff and directors. Years of Service recipients were: Dave Frayne, Director, for South Huron and Perth South – 12 Years; Bob Harvey, Director, for Adelaide Metcalfe and Middlesex Centre – Three Years; Brian Horner, General Manager and Secretary-Treasurer – Ten Years; Dale Cable, Rock Glen Conservation Area Superintendent – 20 Years; and Judith Parker, Corporate Services Coordinator – 30 Years.