A Winsloe farm is the 2015 recipient of the Gilbert R. Clements Award for Excellence in Environmental Farm Planning.
Meadowbrook Farms, nominated by the Ellen’s Creek Watershed Group, received the award at the PEI Federation of Agriculture’s annual meeting January 30. This award, named after the late Environment Minister, is given annually to a farm which is economically viable, environmentally sound and socially responsible in the production and/or marketing of high quality food from a sustainable system.
Meadowbrook Farms is a innovative, environmentally responsible farm operated by David Mol. The Mol family have been farming in Winsloe since 1962 when they moved to Prince Edward Island from Chatham, Ontario. Originally the family managed a beef herd but have turned to cash crops since the 1970’s. David’s grandfather grew one of the first commercial crops of winter wheat on PEI in 1962. David started soybean production in 1976, and, for over 20 years, the Charlottetown Agriculture Research Station used the farm for its winter cereal plots. Today, the farm sees crops of broccoli, cauliflower, onions, garlic, flax, canola, oil seed, and radish, and has actively cooperated with new and innovative industry initiatives.
The farm practices a minimum three-year rotation and soil organic matter is very good. The farm has been practicing on-farm composting for many years and the compost is applied to the land which helps maintain and build organic matter. Always looking for new opportunities for marketing products in a sustainable manner, David Mol has incorporated organic grain production into his operation so the farm has a mix of conventional and organic crops.
Meadowbrook Farms has worked very closely with the Ellen’s Creek Watershed Group on a number of projects and owns the land adjacent to the headwaters, which is a critical area for brook trout. To protect this vital habitat, the farm has established an extended buffer that goes up to almost 60 meters.
The land has been allowed to return to its natural state with native grasses and flowers. In addition, a hedgerow of white spruce is planted to further protect the stream and springs that feed it. The farm is a participant in the Alternative Land Use Program, which assists farmers in reducing soil erosion, increasing wildlife habitat and reducing the impacts of climate change. He also has an up-to-date Environmental Farm Plan and is working on the items in his Action Plan.
Another area that David Mol demonstrates his adoption of innovative sustainable environmental farming practices is in storm water management. Below where his farm operation is based, he has converted an old manure lagoon in to a pond for amphibians, muskrat, and waterfowl. In the same area, he has created two holding ponds for storm water. These retain storm water for several days after severe weather events helping to prevent flooding downstream and allowing storm water to replenish ground water rather than rushing out to the Charlottetown Harbour.
As a farm operating within the boundaries of the City of Charlottetown, David Mol fully recognizes the part his operation plays in the overall environmental health and goes above and beyond to ensure good environmental stewardship is foremost in his operation. He has also given much back to agriculture as he sits on the executive of the PEI Federation of Agriculture and was national president of the Canadian Seed Growers Association.