Athens Farm Couple Wins 2010 Environmental Stewardship Award

TORONTO, Feb. 24 /CNW/ - The Ontario Cattlemen's Association (OCA) is pleased to announce that Charlie and Kim Sytsma of Eighth Line Farm are the winners of this year's Environmental Stewardship Award (TESAward), sponsored by RBC Royal Bank and OCA. The Sytsmas run 220 Red Angus cow/calf pairs on their home farm and leased properties near Athens, Ontario, in the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville, and were nominated for the award by Martin Streit of the Leeds County Stewardship Council, with support from the Charleston Lake Association and the Township of Athens. The Award was presented today at the 2010 OCA Annual General Meeting by Sheila Smart of RBC Royal Bank.

The Sytsmas have been able to lease an extensive area of remote pasture lands and improve their productivity through the use of rotational grazing systems. Over 1.5 kilometers of riparian shoreline habitat has been restored and 480 cattle have been removed from the stream as a result of their actions.

"Charlie and Kim have worked long and hard with the Leeds County Stewardship Council to restore the portions of Elbe creek, which runs through their farms," reports Streit. "They have influenced the improvement of the environmental practices of many farmers through their own actions, hosting tours, giving presentations and word of mouth. Moreover, they have influenced many other farmers to participate in similar projects, resulting in a vast improvement in the condition of Elbe creek."

Cattle are watered using a total of five solar watering systems, which has allowed marginal agricultural lands to be kept in production. The Sytsmas have also constructed over three kilometers of cattle-exclusion fencing to protect a primary source of water for Charleston Lake. The lake boasts the most southerly self-reproducing Lake Trout population in Ontario.

"Kim and Charlie Sytsma are shining examples of how through cooperative efforts real, meaningful environmental improvements can be implemented," says Bill Hallam, President of the Charleston Lake Association (CLA). "The CLA has recognized that in order to keep Charleston Lake healthy, a number of steps had to be taken and (therefore) developed the Charleston Lake Management Plan, one of the first in Ontario. Kim and Charlie were one of the first area farmers to get involved in what we refer to as the Stream Rehabilitation Program. They are outspoken supporters of this program and have hosted many organizations including the Charleston Lake Association to demonstrate what can be accomplished through cooperative measures."

"With a strong dedication to protecting the environment, (Kim and Charlie) have set the example for other agriculture owners to follow to improve the way that farming practices are carried out on private land, in order to improve the beef cattle operation to be more cost efficient," writes John F. Conley, Mayor of the Township of Athens, in his support letter. "They are a hard-working couple who love their animals and are willing to invest in new practices to help our environment and improve their beef cattle industry. It is indeed an honour, as Mayor of our Township, to recommend this couple for this award."

       The Sytsmas will go on to represent Ontario at the National
     Environmental Stewardship Award competition to be held the week of
                     August 8, 2010 in Calgary, Alberta.

     TESAward recognizes the outstanding environmental stewardship of an
     Ontario cattleman. Special consideration is given to producers who have
      taken innovative approaches to environmentally sustainable cattle

           The deadline for applications for the 2011 Environmental
                   Stewardship Award is November 30, 2010.

       For details visit the OCA Web site at after
                               March 5, 2010.

SOURCE Ontario Cattlemen's Association

For further information: For further information: Charlie and Kim Sytsma, TESA Winners: (613) 924-9241; Sheila Smart, RBC Royal Bank: (519) 376-2441; Martin Streit, Leeds County Stewardship Council: (613) 342-8526; Lianne Appleby, Ontario Cattlemen's Association: (519) 824-0334

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