Pemdale Farms takes home TESA for environmental stewardship

MurrayHill Farm’s environmental grazing plan wins Ontario Mapleseed Pasture Award

[UPDATED: Mar. 12, 2021] Beef Farmers of Ontario acknowledged Pemdale Farms and MurrayHill Farm for their environmental stewardship during the organization’s virtual annual general meeting. 

The Environmental Stewardship Award (TESA) went to Jackie and Steven Pemberton, of Pemdale Farms, for the development and incorporation of innovative and sustainable farming strategies in their beef operation.

Why it matters: Awards recognize producers who have made significant contributions and spread awareness of innovations and best practices.

The RBC Royal Bank-sponsored TESA award noted the Pembertons made environmental management decisions based on science, research and waterway protection principles to develop effective nutrient management.

The Pembertons employ simple practices, such as cover crops, fencing off waterways and having an Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) and are involved in research projects furthering innovation and sustainability within the industry.

Jackie and Steven Pemberton. photo: Beef Farmers of Ontario

The couple has participated in Carleton University projects focused on agriculture adaptation to climate change, international research analyzing various crop genetics and the effect on biodiversity and a research project on manure storage design conducted by the Canadian government, agriculture and university groups. 

“Jacqueline and Steven are exemplary members of the community, and their dedication to environmental stewardship is having an impact throughout Eastern Ontario and beyond,” said Brendan Jacobs, ALUS Ontario East, program co-ordinator. 

“It is through fostering these relationships that new perspectives can emerge, leading to effective and lasting stewardship activities.”

A long-term pasture management plan 

Denise and Jeff Byers received the 2021 Ontario Mapleseed Pasture Award for making environmental improvements and pasture management a priority on their beef operation, MurrayHill Farm.

“Jeff and Denise have built this enterprise from the ground up in a short time and have made tremendous inroads quickly,” said Scott Fisher, Mapleseed sales manager for western Ontario. 

The couple runs 30 cow-calf pairs and 20 yearlings in Durham Region and bases their management decisions on efficiency, sustainability and optimum value capture. 

The Byers farm sits on 100 acres with 38 acres of rented hay ground on which multiple temporary paddocks around a central waterline form the base for their daily pasture rotation. 

Fourteen acres of unimproved land are continuously grazed, with the remainder of the fields planted to forage. 

The Byers harvest newly developed hay ground for about three to four years before transitioning into pasture as part of their long-term grazing rotation. Pastureland generally consists of five-year-old alfalfa/grass hay, which is frost seeded in the spring and fertilized annually. 

In addition to their cow-calf and yearling operation, the Byers also market their beef cuts and bulk orders through their on-farm market along with garden-picked vegetables and farm-fresh eggs. 

“They operate a very productive farm and have joined a growing number of producers who have established a transparent and thriving roadside market,” said Ray Robertson, Ontario Forage Council manager. 

The award recipients are expected to host workshops during 2021 to share an in-depth look at what they do on their farms.

*Update: The headline incorrectly spelled Pemdale Farms as Pembale. We regret the error.

About the author

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Diana Martin

Diana Martin has spent more than two decades in the media sector, first as a photojournalist and then evolving into a multi-media journalist. Five years ago she left mainstream media and brought her skills to the agriculture sector. She owns a small farm in Amaranth, Ont.

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