Forests Ontario

News & Events

Where the Four “W’s” meet – Wellesley, Woolwich, Wilmot and Waterloo – Green Leaders Emerge

TORONTO, Dec. 10 – In the mid-1980s, Manfred and Penny Conrad bought at 27-acre horse farm in the Township of Wellesley. Interestingly, the farm rests amid the four “W’s”, as it is located at a point where Wellesley meets the Townships of Woolwich, Wilmot, and the City of Waterloo. When they purchased the farm, it was in stark contrast to the 375 acres of lush forests and green pastures it would eventually become.

Manfred was born and raised in Germany while Penny grew up in England. Both came to Canada in the 1960’s to look for work. They met at a local dance in Kitchener, Ontario. In their life together, Manfred became a prominent local developer and Penny stayed at home to raise the couple’s three children. From the start, Manfred and Penny knew they wanted to own a large piece of land in the country.

The Conrads were by no means farmers – their experience was limited to their small urban vegetable garden. However, once they purchased their farm at the four “W’s”, they knew they wanted something other than the open fields and so actively planned on how to change their new land.

“We weren’t farmers and we wanted to transform our land into something natural and beautiful for us to enjoy and that would enhance the environment around us,” said Penny. “Both of us love trees so it didn’t take long for us to put a plan into action for the planting of thousands of trees.” From this dream, came a 15-year commitment toward the planting of an incredible diversity of trees.

Each year the Conrads planted a few thousand seedlings throughout the farm based on what they could afford at the time. As each year passed, and more trees were planted, grew and began to mature, the Conrads became more excited about how the landscape was changing.

In 2007, the Conrads saw the Ontario Government’s new 50 Million Tree Program as the perfect opportunity to expedite their tree planting efforts and bring to reality the green and lush oasis they so desired. The program makes it easy and affordable for Ontario landowners to plant trees and to support the government’s commitment to plant 50 million trees in Ontario by 2025.

Penny and Manfred signed up for the 50 Million Tree Program and began working with the Grand River Conservation Authority. Over the past three years, they have planted approximately 60,000 native trees such as White Pines, Spruce, Red Oak, Maple, Birch, Black Walnut, Black Cherry, Ash, and many more.

“We would never have been able to achieve our goal as quickly or as easily without the 50 Million Tree Program,” said Manfred. “Once we expressed interest in the program, someone from the Grand River Conservation Authority came to our property, discussed our goals, made a recommendation, secured the tree seedlings and then coordinated and executed the entire planting. They even come back periodically to check on the success of the planting. All of this at a cost that is well below what we had to pay when we were purchasing and planting them ourselves.”

The 50 Million Tree program continues to offer eligible landowners hands-on professional help and advice from local tree planting agencies which will determine site eligibility, allocate funding and coordinate planting.

“In buying this property and developing it into the forested oasis it is today, we hope that we have created an environment for our loved ones and also our fellow nature lovers to experience and enjoy. Since buying the land and planting the trees, we have added to the ecological health of our area. The land is probably closer now to its natural habitat. Local wildlife has returned including deer, wild turkeys, pileated woodpeckers, bluebirds, salamanders, wolves and foxes,” added Manfred.

“We walk through our property almost every day and are so proud of the work we have done to help revitalize the health and beauty of this already picturesque area. Not only that, we are conscious of the fact that the trees add major environmental benefits to us as well as the surrounding community by improving the air quality,” added Penny.

Driving north along Highway 5 into Wellesley, it is easy to see, high on a sloping green hill, where the Conrads live, and the success they have had in creating their flourishing green enclave where the four “W’s” meet. As a result, Trees Ontario, the not-for-profit agency that administers the 50 Million Tree Program has recently named Manfred and Penny as Green Leaders in recognition of their commitment to tree planting and environmental stewardship.

For more information about the 50 Million Tree Program and other tree planting programs and incentives available to Ontario landowners, visit: http://www.forestsontario.ca/planting/programs/

For further information: or to arrange an interview please contact: Paul Tyler, GoldFenix Communications, tel: (905) 235-7285, e-mail: pt@goldfenixcom.ca

View story on the Conrads, pulished in the Woolwich Observer, December 20, 2009.