South Stormont Township, Ont., March 29, 2016 – Ray and Marlene Beauregard may have officially retired years ago, but that doesn’t stop the couple from keeping busy. On their 63-acre homestead in idyllic Stormont Township, the two are hard at work. Ray can be found in the fields, tending his newly planted trees, while Marlene is busy at work caring for her chickens and turkeys, part of a small poultry business that the two keep on the side.
For Ray, caring for the trees is a labour of love. “Trees require attention, they’re just like babies,” says Ray. “You’ve got to give them a chance to thrive, but just like babies, they require tending!”
The trees are a recent addition to the farm; for years, the couple raised cattle on the land and tried their hand at growing crops. The land however, was too wet to support crops and sat idle for years. Years ago, when Ray and Marlene sold their remaining cattle, they were looking for a way put the land back into production. The answer came in 2012, when the Beauregard’s committed to planting more than 7300 trees on their land through the government of Ontario’s 50 Million Tree Program. Delighted with the results of the first plant, they followed it up by planting an additional nearly 11,000 trees in 2014.
“For years I wanted to do something with my land, but I never thought of trees,” says Ray. “Since planting, I’ve been telling everyone about the 50 Million Tree Program. It’s an excellent way to fill your land and the price is right!”
The plant was administered under the careful watch of Raisin Region Conservation Authority (RRCA). Normand Génier, Forestry Specialist at RRCA, worked with Ray and Marlene to assess their property for suitability and made the necessary arrangements to get the trees in the ground. “I’ve been so impressed by the level of involvement and dedication that Ray and Marlene have displayed,” said Norm. “Ray is so determined; I love hearing stories of him getting his bush hog stuck in the mud as he mows the rows between the trees. I wish we had more landowners like Ray and Marlene who understand the value of forest stewardship and have the patience and vision to commit to planting trees they won’t likely see fully realized within their lifetimes.”
Although planting trees wasn’t in their original plans, now that they’re in the ground, the couple understand the importance of what they’ve done. “Trees save humanity,” smiles Ray. “We need to continue to educate people on all the benefits that trees provide.”
“The trees are great for my animals; they provide clean air for my birds and deer, which I love,” says Marlene. “And besides, it gives Ray something to do to get him out of my hair,” she chuckles.
“Ray and Marlene Beauregard have shown exceptional environmental stewardship by participating in the 50 Million Tree Program,” said Bill Mauro, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry. “They are helping us preserve our healthy, sustainable environment for future generations and I thank them for their admirable initiative.”
“It’s fantastic to see landowners like Ray and Marlene who are making such a positive contribution to the environment through the 50 Million Tree Program,” says Rob Keen, CEO of Forests Ontario. “Not only are they setting a positive example for other landowners, but it’s quite evident that they are reaping the rewards of the trees they have planted and that the experience has enriched their lives.”
For more information about the 50 Million Tree Program and other tree planting programs, as well as local tree planting workshops, visit: http://www.forestsontario.ca/50mtp
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