The VIMO farm, one of the farms on the Regeneration Canada


On September 1st, I had the pleasure of attending the Massawippi Foundation’s Farm to Table luncheon. It was an opportunity for me to learn about the critical conservation work that the Foundation and the Trust are doing. I applaud the management of the Foundation and the Massawippi Conservation Trust for taking an unconventional stand in the conservation world and for recognizing the leadership of farmers doing regenerative agriculture as an essential contribution to the quality of the lake water and the environment.

I am the President of the Board at Regeneration Canada. Our organization, founded in 2017, is dedicated to raising awareness and supporting   the transition to regenerative agriculture and land management as an important part of this country’s climate mitigation strategy. A growing number of people are becoming aware that cutting emissions alone will not combat climate change. We also need to restore the ecosystem functions on our planet, which draw greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere and store carbon in the land. Trees and plants breathe in greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and convert them to liquid carbon, which they exude through their roots to feed soil microbes. Soil microbes, in turn, transform the mineral nutrients from organic matter and make them accessible to the plants. This whole marvelous cycle is the basis of the soil ecosystem, Nature’s closed-loop system for recycling nutrients, creating fertility and filtering water. A healthy soil ecosystem, not only the trees, plays a vital role in balancing the carbon and the water cycles.

Conservation of forests, waterways and biodiversity is essential for restoring the natural functions which regulate our climate. Yet the population of humans which has taken over more and more of the surface of our planet over the centuries has altered the planetary ecosystems and unwittingly thrown these natural systems out of balance. So, of course, we must conserve the remaining natural spaces, but at the same time ,we have to meet the needs of the people who live around them.

Regenerative agriculture and land management is a way of meeting human needs while restoring ecosystem functions. It is possible by mimicking natural systems to create human-managed environments that provide us food and fibre while still sequestering carbon, purifying water and increasing biodiversity. This is the emerging science of the regenerative movement. A regenerative farming system does all these things by applying the principles of regenerative land management :

  •  Disturb the soil as little as possible and keep it covered with living plants as much of the year as possible;
  • Integrate more trees and perennial plants into the production system;
  • Diversify the number of species of plants grown;
  • Transition from synthetic fertilizers and pesticides to natural amendments such as compost, manure and cover crops;
  • Integrate animals into the system. This ranges from pasture grazing ruminants like cows and sheep, to pollinators, birds, and other wild creatures who can find habitat.

Regeneration Canada brings together pioneering regenerative farmers with environmentally conscious consumers looking to support regeneration in their buying choices through our map of regenerative farms. We welcome you to explore our map, sign up if you are a regenerative farmer, or join our network of citizens who are concerned about taking climate action.

Helene Hamel


noun:  the simultaneous occurrence of events which appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection.
“such synchronicity is quite staggering”

  • It is our tenth anniversary.
  • When discussing our future, beyond conserving forests, sustainable agriculture is also discussed as a different form of conservation.  How can we help promote environmentally sound farming practices in our valley? How can we help conserve the health of the soil in our valley?
  • Eric van Bochove, on the point of retirement from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, meets a Massawippi Foundation person in the parking lot of the trail.

As she hands him a trail map he tells her that he is interested in becoming involved in the conservation work of the foundation as he leaves his professional career. She mentions that the foundation has just been discussing the topic of agriculture and conservation and adding this to our vision for the next 10 years.

It is a win, win, win situation.

Eric moved from PEI to Ayer’s Cliff with his wife in 2018. Their country residence is now their permanent home. Like so many others who have moved to the region, Eric enjoys the outdoors, kayaking on the lake, hiking and exploring, his camera at the ready.   
In January, 2021 Eric told us:
“I have been thinking for some time of contacting your organization to possibly offer my help as an expert and contribute to its objectives in the future.”
Eric has a Bachelor’s degree in agronomy, a Master’s degree in plant ecology and a PhD in water sciences, as well as years of experience in agri-environmental research before becoming the executive in charge of the scientific direction of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Research and Development Centres of Sherbrooke, Quebec City and Normandin.
Eric briefly explained that “his research career has led him to understand the complexity of agricultural landscapes in terms of soil, vegetation and hydrological variability in order to select the best agri-environmental management practices. The goal of his research program was to reduce the risk of non-point source pollution from fertilizers and other agricultural contaminants to waterways or the atmosphere in the form of greenhouse gases. He will certainly be able to contribute to the cause of the Lake Massawippi watershed!
Eric has had the opportunity to work at the scale of agricultural watersheds in Canada, he was Canadian co-chair of the International Joint Commission’s phosphorus working groups on the Great Lakes and Missisquoi Bay, Lake Champlain. He chaired an international scientific association of experts in Diffuse Pollution and Eutrophication before holding various management positions in international scientific cooperation, knowledge and technology transfer and scientific management of research and development centers in Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Quebec. His experience has led him to develop several scientific innovation strategies in the fields of agri-environment, potato production and dairy and swine production.
As a scientist with a passion for the region and an in-depth knowledge of farming Eric joined our board in June and has already made contributions. He headed our Farm Awards committee. As per our article last month, two farms were each awarded a $ 10,000 prize. Eric will now chair the Board’s  newly formed Agricultural Committee. The role and direction of the committee has yet to be determined. More news will be published in 2022. One thing is certain, the alliance between the Foundation and the worldwide movement towards sustainable farming practices is strong.
Our Vision for the next 10 years:
To support our vision for a green and prosperous Massawippi Valley, we are looking to expand our conservation efforts from only focusing on our rich forests to include various other types of ecologically vital lands.  The Massawippi Foundation and Massawippi Conservation Trust are joining the worldwide movement toward sustainable and resilient farming practices.  We feel that conservation also includes how we use our land – we will advocate for ways we can all keep our soil healthy, ways we can all add to the biodiversity of insects and birds and ways we can all protect streams in order to improve the health of our lake, the health of our farms and their produce and ultimately the quality of life for all who live here.
More than a mere coincidence, let’s call it synchronicity.

Tom Wilcox, a board member of the Massawippi Foundation and a Trustee of the Massawippi Conservation Trust, has most recently forged a formal relationship with US organization American Friends of Canadian Conservation (AF of CC), a relationship that promises to bring significant American resources to conservation organizations across Canada.  Mr. Wilcox serves as the Canadian-based representative for that organization.
American Friends of Canadian Conservation is a US charity that partners with Canadian conservation organizations and American owners of environmentally and ecologically significant lands to protect Canada’s lands. It helps to preserve Canada’s natural areas, scenic landscapes, sensitive watersheds, recreation resources, important habitat for fish, birds and wildlife, and the places that hold generations of family memories.
AF of CC was created to remove the tax and legal barriers that prevented US taxpayers from permanently protecting their Canadian natural lands. Gifts of land and conservation easements to American Friends are charitable donations in the US and effectively not subject to Canadian capital gains

Massawippi organizations work to conserve land in Quebec’s Eastern Townships

The border between Canada and the United States may be the world’s longest international border but it may also be the friendliest, with long-standing positive relationships between the residents of both countries. Quebec’s Eastern Townships is one region where that close connection is very apparent. Just 30 minutes or 36 km from the Vermont border, the charming town of North Hatley, Quebec traces its origins all the way back to 1792 when American Captain Ebenezer Hovey encountered Lake Massawippi during his explorations of the area. Of course, the first people to discover Lake Massawippi would have been the Abenaki First Nation who chose to name the 15-square-km lake Massawippi, a word meaning “abundance of clear water.”

Whether hundreds of years ago or today, there seems to be firm agreement that the landscape of the Massawippi area possesses great ecological and aesthetic value. Two organizations have been successful in their ongoing efforts to conserve land and the environment in the area.

In 1968, citizens came together to form what is now known as Blue Massawippi, an organization dedicated to protecting the ecological health of the Massawippi watershed area through research and education. And in 2010-2011, a group of concerned local residents established the Massawippi Foundation (FMF) and the Massawippi Conservation Trust (MCT), to facilitate fundraising for ongoing protection of the ecological integrity of the Lake and watershed area. While the Foundation supports activities that benefit the people of the region, the purpose of the Trust is to conserve the natural state of the land adjacent to Lake Massawippi and its tributaries, and to provide stewardship services for that land in perpetuity.
Currently the work of the Massawippi Conservation Trust is focused on undeveloped land on the west slopes of Lake Massawippi, stretching over six kilometers and rising up to the high ridge. Experts have noted the value of the old growth forest and a wide variety of rare or threatened flora and fauna on these lands. Tom Wilcox is a one of the founders of the Trust – his family has been escaping summers in the US and spending time in the Massawippi area for five generations.
“My great grandmother and grandfather came in 1890, making my brother’s grandchildren the sixth generation,” says Wilcox. “As development pressure on the ecologically sensitive lands increased, we saw an opportunity to create a means to protect the valuable resource.” The Massawippi Conservation Trust employs several methods to conserve land including: acquiring land through purchase or donation; establishing easements or servitudes; helping landowners understand the ecological and tax benefits of limiting the types of activities permitted; and helping landowners understand the effect of over-development on the overall well-being of the Massawippi watershed. Wilcox has had many proud moments over the past ten years during which time the Trust has raised more than $5,000,000.
“In addition to the cash, we have received donated properties and servitudes worth more than $3,000,000. Thanks to our donors and partners, we have become a leading voice for ecological health and sustainability,” said Patterson Webster, Chair of the Massawippi Foundation.
In June 2017, the community celebrated the dedication of the Massawippi Trail. Representatives from First Nations, English and French-speaking residents, families and elected officials all came together to officially open the trail system providing public access to what was once private property. In recognition of the original Abenaki people whose territory included this land, Métis Paul Carignan and his wife Sylvia Bertolini sang an Anishinaabe Sun Song. “The work we do with the Trust not only ensures land conservation in perpetuity, it provides access for families to appreciate and learn about nature – which over the past 18 months we have come to understand is even more essential to the well-being of our community and the planet.”
Both The Massawippi Conservation Trust and Blue Massawippi are now grantees of American Friends of Canadian Conservation, US taxpayers can support their work with a gift that is tax deductible in the US!
“We are very grateful to American Friends,” said Wilcox. “I would advise any American who might be considering the future of their property in Canada to investigate American Friends. With the tax benefits available, you can ‘do well, by doing good’.”
Annual Report 2019-2020
Conserve Canada 
The Viens family is the winner of the Agri-Environmental Leadership Award for a conventional farm.
They were chosen by our committee to receive the first Agri-Environmental Leadership Award by meeting the criteria of the committee which consisted of :
Dr. Eric van Bochove, recently retired executive responsible for the scientific direction of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s research and development centres.
Dr. Darren Bardati, Professor and Chair of the Department of Environment and Geography at Bishop’s University in Sherbrooke.
Stéphanie Durand, who currently works for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in human resources and feed production management for their dairy herd: rotation, input purchases, crop management.Excerpts from the questions on the Leadership Prize application form.

A 4th generation family business committed to producing high quality milk in a sustainable way. The respect for resources, people and animals is part of the company’s values. We are passionate about our work and are always looking for new knowledge.
We believe in regenerative agriculture which is a good concept to improve soil life.

Soils that will sequester carbon (slowing climate change), living soils that will need fewer pesticides and mineral fertilisers, so less leaching loss. We are working on returning animals to pasture which helps to restructure the soil and we will try compost tea which is a natural way to make a soil productive and resistant. We also want to improve the water cycle by reducing compaction and encouraging water infiltration into the soil.  The idea of collecting rainwater from the roofs of buildings is something we want to do.
-Purchase equipment that will help us do direct seeding of maize.
-Purchase plants and shrubs
-Take training courses
-Work with cover crop consultants.

A word of thanks from the Viens family –
Thank you again for this great competition, it gives us a boost and encourages us to continue our efforts for healthy ecosystems.

The Massawippi Foundation board is studying ways in which to further its impact on a green and healthy Massawippi Valley. The Massawippi Foundation and Massawippi Conservation Trust are joining the worldwide movement toward enhancing the agroecosystem resilience for  sustainable agricultural production.

Jean-Martin Fortier, Jane Elizabeth Gowman, Alexander Brand (Ferme Fellgarth) et Nathalie Viens, Pascal Viens (Ferme Vimo), Eric van Bochove.

Alex Brand and his wife Lindsay-Jane Gowman are the winners of the Agri-Environmental Leadership Award for an organic farm.
They were chosen by our committee to receive the first Agri-Environmental Leadership Award by meeting the criteria of the committee (including Dr. Eric van Bochove, Dr. Darren Bardati, and Stéphanie Durand who are described above).

Excerpts from the questions on the Leadership Prize application form.


Farm purchased 1971, by Gudrun and Wilhelm Brand, German immigrants, two children Kerstin and Alexander. Fellgarth Farm was a pioneer certified organic farm in Eastern Townships in the early 80’s. Growing diverse crops such as vegetables, corn, hay, barley, spelt, oats and soybeans. A livestock production with beef and chickens, sold with vegetables at the farm store.

The farm is now operated by the second generation, Alexander Brand and his wife Lindsay-Jane Gowman. In 2015 we partnered and created Ferme Fellgarth SENC while having and raising the third generation

of 6 children. Alexander has a degree in Agriculture from MacDonald College and was born and raised in Hatley and has operated the farm. Jane has a Bachelor of Arts from Bishop’s University and was born and raised in North Eastern British Columbia. The uniqueness of our family’s heritage is a strength to our enterprises. We bring an understanding of the country, the world, other languages, cultures as well as integrating German/Western Canadian agriculture practices to our farm located in the unique Eastern Townships. It allows us to be open minded and aware of other environments.

Being a young enterprise in comparison to the operating 3rd, 4th and 5th generation farms we are nestled amongst is a limitation and struggle as we stumble with a lack of family support, family power, efficiency and the missing generational knowledge many farms have as their greatest asset. We are a young enterprise operated by a husband/wife team, neither employed off the farm.
This winter and because of Covid many great conferences were available to us just by sittingat the kitchen table and clicking on ZOOM. We learned about farm insurance, operating a lower cost cattle operation, how to replace baler twine with an edible biodegradable twine. We hope to try this with winter pasturing in 2021. We got to zoom with the first Woman Agriculture Minister and learn how to empower each other as women farmers and finally we learned about urban farming in Montreal.
Both are passionate about sustainable, safe, regenerative agriculture which is family and community orientated, while being profitable. Our main expertise and revenue arrives from cattle, crop and hay production. We maintain small animal husbandry with our most recent trial farm animal being pastured pork.


The size of agricultural operations considerably impacts the outcomes on the surrounding ecosystems, making our small, diverse family farm a positive in managing effective agri-environmental practices. We are dynamic and unique which will be a strong asset to meet the environmental challenges and impacts of climate change to agriculture. One other aspect of our farm’s bio diversity that is important is our genetic diversity we are creating within our cattle. We have learned and applied mixing genetics to create sturdier, more balanced, outdoor cows. Using breeds such as Brown Swiss, Jersey, Angus. and Holstein genetics we are achieving genetic diversity within our livestock.
To conclude, it has been awhile since either of us gave deep, up to date thought on our agro-environmental management. This exercise and generous opportunity was thought provoking. It helped us be informed on immediate changes that are being made and a renewed call for leadership and our present involvement.


  • No firm idea yet. Still thinking about it.

A word of thanks from Jane on behalf of her family – See photo


The Massawippi Foundation and the Massawippi Conservation Trust is joining the sustainable agricultural movement. These prizes are part of our contribution.


The awards are part of an initiative to support the sustainable agriculture movement.

Jean-Martin Fortier, Jane Elizabeth Gowman, Alexander Brand (Ferme Fellgarth) et Nathalie Viens, Pascal Viens (Ferme Vimo), Eric van Bochove.

2021 has been a remarkable year so far.

It is our 10th anniversary in which we have celebrated with the community, announced land acquisitions and officially opened Ethan’s Beach and where we launched our first Farm Leadership Awards.
As they say a picture is worth 1000 words … so here are thousands!

Trustee and volunteer Normand Brière and President Margot Heyerhoff represent the Massawippi Foundation and the Massawippi Conservation Trust. They walk the popular Massawippi Trail. (Photo: Le Reflet du Lac – Dany Jacques)

Press Conference: Announcement of the acquisition of property #9


For immediate release


Canton de Hatley, June 9, 2021– Massawippi Conservation Trust (MCT) is pleased to announce the purchase of a new property to be protected in perpetuity in the Massawippi Valley. The project is the fruit of a three-year collaboration with three siblings, who fulfilled their parents’ conservation dream by selling their forested and ecologically rich 154 hectares (390 acres) to the MCT in August of 2019.
The Massawippi Foundation and the Massawippi Conservation Trust are two charitable organizations that are respectively responsible for the funding and management of large protected areas in the watershed of the Massawippi valley.
“After several years of negotiations with the Eberts family, the Trust was able to purchase the second largest parcel of land under our stewardship,” explains Margot Heyerhoff, President of the Fondation Massawippi Foundation (FMF). “The addition of this property will enable us to preserve these pristine forests and ecologically important marshlands. The Foundation (FMF) and Trust (MCT) will also be building a new trail network on the sector which will be appreciated by the users of our trail system. We thank the family for their visionary collaboration,” she adds.

Community Event Scowen Park


The Official Opening of Ethan’s Beach on August 21st at Quebec Lodge in Hatley.  People were offered free pontoon rides from the Lodge beach on the Eastern side of the lake to Ethan’s Beach on the Western side of the lake.

23 August 2021
Massawippi Foundation inaugurates new public beach
By Gordon Lambie
Over the weekend, the Massawippi Foundation held a ceremony to officially inaugurate Ethan’s Beach, a secluded waterfront space linked to the Massawippi Trail on the western shore of Lake Massawippi. Due to the fact that the land access to the beach involves a three kilometre hike down a mountain and then back up again, the ceremony was hosted at the Quebec Lodge outdoor centre on the other side of the lake, with interested parties being ferried across to see the beach by pontoon boat.

“Ethan’s beach is part of a property that was acquired back in 2014,” said Hélène Hamel, the foundation’s Community Engagement Manager, sharing that the space has been named for the grandchild of one of the foundation’s board members. Hamel said that work on the trails that cross the 1,200 acre land conservation then began in 2017 and have been a gradual labour of love since that time. Access to the beach by land was, in fact, ready last summer, but a formal opening was not possible because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We offered two prizes to farmers who were leaders in the field!
“ The vision of the Massawippi Foundation and the Massawippi Conservation Trust of a green and prosperous valley has been developed over the past 10 years around the conservation of our rich forests and their biodiversity, but we know that other ecologically vital lands must be included to achieve balance, and mainly the lands that produce our food. Our health depends on the health of the ecosystem in which we live, and when we use its natural resources in a sustainable way, we will have a resilient ecosystem over the very long term.
By awarding two prizes to a conventional farm and an organic farm, the Foundation wants to recognize the leadership of producers who have been investing in their land management practices for years and who are greatly influencing their fellow farmers to innovate and adopt best agri-environmental practices in the management of fertilizers and residues, to maintain biodiversity on their land, and to improve the health and conservation of their soil. ”

Dr. Eric van Bochove, member of the Board of Directors of the Massawippi Foundation and chair of the Farm Award Committee.

The two winners were the Ferme Vimo (2010) Inc, a conventional farm owned by Gilles Viens, Marguerite Morin and their three children Marilyn, Pascal and Christian Viens and Fellgarth Farm SENC, a certified organic farm owned by Alexander Brand and Lindsay-Jane Gowman. Each of the two farms received a $10,000 prize!

Behind the scenes…

There were video and photo sessions.

The sign committee met to discuss new signage for the new trails.

We toured property #9 and photographed it from the air and land. Do you see the Turtle Head Rock?

We recognised the donors who helped us to plant trees at Scowen Park.


Mahicans Diamond opens the Sentier Pic de Wippi, July 2021 and the new updated Trail Map v. 2021

We completed the Sentier Pic de Wippi in the Wardman sector of the Massawippi Trail. Seen here Board Member Jane Meaghar and her husband, Jean Vanaise.

Our trails are hand made by a group of professional trail builders who also work and train students who help them in the summertime.
Photo on right…if you remember our Dec. 2020 newsletter we named the tool Mahicans is using here…The McLeod.

and they make some people happy especially when they come back year after year to nest in their boxes.
Margot H. tells a funny story that when she was a young woman, visiting friends in the Eastern Townships, she found out that Blue Birds were in fact real birds and not just cartoon characters or part of a fairy tale. She learned that they were becoming rarer and rarer as their habitat was disappearing. In conservation terms their status was in serious decline. This pretty little bird was unhappy.

Later in life Margot and her husband began to build Blue Bird nesting boxes. For the past 20 years they put out the boxes annually in the Spring and took them in and to clean and store them in the Fall.
Each box is numbered and sits in a particular position. Margot has created her very own Blue Bird Way. She takes notes after each season when cleaning the boxes to keep track of who visited each box.
Thanks to people like her, the Eastern Blue Bird has seen a slow return to healthy numbers as its loss of natural nesting sites has been replaced by nesting boxes.
Would you like to build a Blue Bird nesting box?
Click here for the plans from La SLOE. 

This year, the Massawippi Foundation and the Massawippi Conservation Trust are celebrating their 10th anniversary. To mark the occasion, they are joining the global movement to improve agro-ecosystem resilience for sustainable production by launching a competition to award two agricultural producers with prizes of $10,000 each.
In setting out its 10-year vision for a green and prosperous Massawippi Valley, the council plans to expand its conservation areas to include a variety of other ecologically valuable land types.
“We believe that conservation must include…
how we use our land – we will advocate for agri-environmental farming practices to keep our soils healthy, preserve biodiversity, including insects, birds and plants, and protect waterways, thereby ensuring the health of our lake, our farms and their products; ultimately improving the quality of life for all who live here,” said Margot Heyerhoff, Foundation President.

The Foundation’s competition (now closed) will award an organic farmer with a $10,000 prize; another prize of the same amount will reward a conventional farmer. In both cases, the prizes will be awarded to farmers for their good practices to ensure the resilience of our agricultural ecosystem.

15 nominations have been submitted and are currently being reviewed by our experts.

The committee of the “Farm Agri-Environmental Leadership Award” is composed of 3 members:
Dr. Eric van Bochove, a member of the Board of Directors of the Massawippi Foundation and a resident of Ayer’s Cliff, holds a B.Sc. in Agronomy, a M.Sc. in Plant Ecology and a Ph. He has extensive research experience in the agri-environmental field, before becoming a senior staff member responsible for the scientific direction of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s research and development centres. Recently retired, he joined our Board of Directors to continue his involvement in the community. LINKEDIN

Dr. Darren Bardati is Professor and Chair of the Department of Environment and Geography at Bishop’s University in Sherbrooke. He is currently involved in the creation of the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems (SAFS) program and the development of the farm at Bishop’s. He has been teaching the Resource Management course and the Environment course in the Department of Environment and Geography since 1996. His research interests include agroecology and sustainable food systems, climate change adaptation and water management.

Stéphanie Durand, agr. is the third member of the committee. She currently works for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada as a research farm manager. Her responsibilities include human resources, management of feed production for the dairy herd: rotation, purchase of inputs, crop management. She is also the coordinator of the animal phases of research projects on dairy cows and pigs. She previously worked for the Club Agroenvironnemental de l’Estrie in consulting services for producers in the region. LINKEDIN

The Massawippi Foundation and the Massawippi Conservation Trust were created in 2011. They were born from the will of a very small group of citizens concerned about the possibility of development on the west side of Lake Massawippi that would cause irreversible damage to this precious environment including the lake’s watershed. The negative impact would be felt by both the community and wildlife. Today, the Board of Directors is composed of three members from that initial core group and new members from diverse backgrounds. All have a keen interest in the environment and in particular in the 5 municipalities surrounding Lake Massawippi.

They look forward to presenting the awards to the winners on September 1st.