Since 1995, we have reclaimed this 2 acre wet meadow from cultivation. Over the years we have burned to remove Scots Pine that have invaded and to reduce competition from shrubs. Each year we also seed the field with left over seed from the previous year.
The field is undulating with wet and drier areas. After a burn the field quickly greens up and over the season many species offer a display of vivid colour and texture. We get lots of seed from this diverse habitat.
Keegan’s Prairie - In 1996 we planted our first one acre with Tallgrass prairie species, including Indian Grass, Big Bluestem, Little Bluestem, Switch Grass and wildflowers. The hill is blow sand and has little agricultural value.
The site was well prepared, disked several times in succession in order to decrease the concentration of invasive exotics. Our son was thrilled to help hand broadcast a mixture of native prairie grasses and wildflowers. After seeding the site was packed down to have good seed to soil contact.
The management strategy is essentially a prescribed burn in the spring.
***NEVER BURN ALONE, AND ALWAYS OBTAIN A BURN PERMIT FROM YOUR LOCAL FIRE DEPARTMENT. ***
After 3 years, the prairie is spectacular and we are already able to collect seed for other projects on farm and off. Savanna Sparrows have been seen here most years. Prairie plants do not show much aboveground growth after the first year. Most of their energy goes into establishing extensive root systems that enables them to survive drought.
After the success of our first prairie planting, we seeded Zoë’s Prairie in 2000, a 6.5-acre field on the east side of the farm. We also added 3 acres of wildflower seed production rows. In the spring of 2001, we added River’s Prairie, supplementing the original planting with an additional 2 acres. In 2002, another 2 acres in single species blocks was added for seed production. From 2003 to 2005, 17.5 acres in the backfields were planted and seeded for seed production.
Since 1997, we have been restoring the dammed pond that runs along the back of the farm. Originally the pond was 3 acres and we removed a three-foot section of standpipe and reduced the size of the pond by half. In 2002, we lowered the dam completely. We have used burning, planting and seeding to enhance the resulting stream. It is now a healthy coldwater Brook Trout with natural depth, pools and curvature. We are working with MNR, DFO and the Conservation Authority with the goal of removing or modifying the earthen dam to allow for fish passage.
In 1996, we prepared this 4.5-acre former agricultural field for reforestation. The forest opening and adjacent Carolinian ravine complex is part of a larger mixed upland lowland forest of approximately 100 acres. Our objective was to increase interior forest habitat and to expand upon the buffer zone along Honey Creek, which flows into Big Creek just south of our property. We divided the field into 9 plots as an experiment. Using a randomized block design we planted 3 plots with a mixture of climax and pioneer species, 3 plots with pioneer species and 3 plots were left alone. We planted a combination of deciduous and coniferous Carolinian tree and shrub species.
In the spring of 2000, our reforestation efforts were expanded further to include a 3 acre field adjoining the 4.5 acre field already planted as well as a 1 acre field at the back of the farm on a steeper hill that slopes to the stream. These areas were planted by volunteers on Earth Day and on the May 24 Society for Ecological Restoration Weekend.
In 2001, we planted a 1-acre strip along the edge of the pond and southern section of Honey Creek to increase the buffer zone. On the front and eastern edge of the property we added wide buffer strips.
Over the years, we have divided the fields and planted 8-10 foot wide windbreaks.
In 2005 we added a 1 acre pit and mound demonstration planting to the front of the property and an additional 7 acres were planted into forest to increase forest interior and buffering. Daniel's Forest is a 5 acre block of forest at the south end of the farm.
We have established many gardens on the farm to highlight the beauty of the plants native to our area.
Woodland / Shade Gardens
Bog Gardens - Acidic / Peat bog plants such as Pitcher Plant
Healing Garden - With over 100 species suitable for dry and medium soil gardens
Prairie Grass Garden
Songbird, Hummingbird and Butterfly Gardens
In the fall of 1999, we had a pond dug at the front of the property that we are using as a demonstration site to showcase what landowners can do to enhance wildlife habitat in their ponds. We dug test holes to determine the groundwater depth, which fluctuated seasonally between 1-6 feet below ground level, making this an ideal location for a pond.
The pond is 100 x 120 feet with sloping sides and a 6-foot shelf at the edge of the pond. The soil mounds were planted and seeded with prairie species. Using scrap wood and rocks, we incorporated a snake hibernaculum in the south facing slope of the western most soil mound.
Many thanks to the volunteers who helped us plant the pond.
The plants established quickly and wildlife (Mallard ducks, Great Blue Heron, American Bullfrog, Green frog, Grey Tree frog, American Toad, Painted Turtle, Dragonfly sp, Tree Swallow, Purple Martin, King Bird, Sparrow sp, Baltimore Oriole, et al.) soon found and utilized the new pond.
We use the pond in all seasons for nature appreciation, relaxation, swimming and skating.
Acorus Restoration Native Plant Nursery & Blazingstar Holistic Learning Centre * 722 6th Conc. Rd RR1 Walsingham, ON N0E 1X0 * (519) 586-2603 * Email Us
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