Leeds Grenville County resident named Trees Ontario Green Leader for planting a loving legacy
Leeds Grenville County, ON, September 19, 2012 – One little stone house started it all. The Harvey’s purchased their 1796 property while busy teaching in Ottawa. The couple desired a quiet place away from their bustling lives in the city, and purchased the property after Patricia fell in love with the stone house that is the centre piece of this 260 acre farm. The land was originally settled in 1796 by English Patriots who acquired it through a British Government program that offered free land to those immigrating to Canada. After a string of owners, Patricia and Robert purchased the property and although they didn’t initially live on the property, the couple did enjoy its farmhouse as a seasonal residence.
“When we were teaching, Robert and I were up here every weekend. It was a nice break from the hustle and bustle of Ottawa,” said Patricia. “We restored parts of the house and enjoyed taking pictures of the plants and wildlife here. My husband taught botany, so he photographed every inch of the place because there are so many interesting plants.”
To honour the memory of her late husband, she and a friend started researching options for large tracts of idle farmland. In 2010, Mrs. Harvey saw an advertisement in which Rideau Valley Conservation Authority (RVCA) and Trees Ontario were hosting a landowner workshop that highlighted the necessity of re-greening the province and the resources available to property owners interested in getting involved.
Landowners with 2.5 acres or more of open land are eligible to take advantage of subsidies to plant trees through the 50 Million Tree Program (50MTP) – a program introduced by the Ontario government that will see 50 million trees planted in southern Ontario. The program is administered by Trees Ontario who works with local planting partners including RVCA to provide eligible landowners with hands-on professional help and advice on tree planting and full tree planting services including determining site eligibility, allocating funding and coordinating planting.
Excited to get started, Mrs. Harvey invited RVCA’s Dan Cooper to conduct an assessment of the property, discuss her tree planting goals and develop a planting strategy for her 60 plantable acres. They focused on the north half of the property that was wet in areas. “There is an abundance of abandoned farmland here in the East,” says Dan Cooper, Forestry Program Manager, RVCA. “The land here can be difficult to farm and is therefore ideally suited to these tree planting programs. We work with the landowner to help create a naturalized area and use subsidy programs to manage the process and drastically reduce the planting and maintenance costs to the landowner. Most planting projects cost about 15 cents per tree and we handle everything.” The full cost of tree planting can be as high as $2,000 per acre. The 50MTP reduces the landowner costs to as low as $150 per acre, depending on local site conditions.
Once Mrs. Harvey and Dan discussed her goals for the property, RVCA developed a plan for the wetlands, low lying lands and upland areas. Species were selected that were suitable for the site and met Mrs. Harvey’s goals for her property. Dan was sure to discuss the planting process and future maintenance of the trees to ensure high survival rates.
The site was prepared in the fall of 2010 and the following spring they planted 24,000 trees, including white spruce, white pine, cedar and tamarack. RVCA handled every aspect of the planting and are now monitoring the survival of the trees and providing support to ensure these seedlings survive to grow into a forest. “I was involved in the process and Dan held my hand every step of the way,” said Mrs. Harvey. “I liked the process so much that I decided to do it again the next year.”
This spring 2012, the property was planted with another 26,000 trees of the same species, but this time, Mrs. Harvey added a few oak, walnut and maple. “This is now a place to enjoy natural beauty and wildlife. I see so many more bird and animal species including grosbeaks, hawks, fox and even coyotes. I love my new trees,” explains Mrs. Harvey.
Mrs. Harvey has been recognized as a Trees Ontario Green Leader to award her commitment to the environment. “Mrs. Harvey is well deserving of the Green Leader award for her dedication and stewardship of the land,” says the Honourable Michael Gravelle, Ontario’s Minister of Natural Resources. “Planting trees under the 50 Million Tree Program is a great option for landowners who want to plant a legacy for future generations and contribute to achieving the 30 per cent forest cover required to maintain a healthy sustainable environment.”
“This is truly a gift that she’s given the local community. The naturalization of the area will contribute to the region’s biodiversity, encourage species resiliency to climate change, and add to the economic and social fabric of the entire area,” adds Rob Keen, CEO, Trees Ontario. “The 50 Million Tree Program offers landowners the opportunity to plant trees affordably, and leave a lasting legacy for future generations.”
As for Mrs. Harvey’s advice to other landowners who are thinking about planting trees on their properties? It’s simple. “Just contact Trees Ontario and check out the programs available. There is a lot of support and there are many incentives to help you achieve your tree planting goals.”
For more information about the 50 Million Tree Program and other tree planting programs, as well as local tree planting workshops to help you get started, visit: http://www.forestsontario.ca/planting/programs/.