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.