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For Future Generations
Gary Rodger was born in Chatham and has lived his whole life in Blenheim. He is a business owner, a land owner, and a father of a seven year old son. It was truly inspirational to find out that Gary has been continuing a habitat restoration project that his father started. The project began with the planting of some ash trees on part of the farm by his father, Jim Rodger, and for the past 25 years Gary has been investing more time, land, and effort to expand on what his father started.
Gary has dedicated 10 acres of his land to restoration and reforestation; the fruit of his labours stand in stark contrast to the surrounding farmland.
The day of my visit was sunny; clear skies and light breeze. Gary’s restoration and reforestation efforts were beautiful. As we went further in the site I witnessed the Emerald Ash Borer problem that Gary had mentioned to me earlier. Many green ash trees have died as a result of this invasive species. Along with the trees, there was a natural pond and a couple of man-made ponds to lessen the impacts of nutrient runoff from the surrounding fields. Gary also mentioned about the wildlife living on the site, including turkey, woodcock, deer and many species of birds. I must admit that it was amazing to see that a corn field could be transformed into a forest. Gary’s property is a great example of successful restoration and would be a great way to show others that ecological restoration truly works.
I was curious as to why Gary continued his father’s projects. Though he had a few different reasons, one of them stood out more than the rest. Gary said, “I’m doing it for the future generations. I have a 7 year old son. I want him to have a place to hang out like I did, and hopefully he can enjoy it when he’s my age.” Gary is motivated by, “Envisioning the site 40 years from now.” Gary wishes more land owners would take advantage of restoration programs, but believes that more people will participate in the near future. He hopes his son will eventually follow in his footsteps once he’s old enough.
My trip to Blenheim was more inspirational than I thought it would be. I hope Gary’s ideas and actions motivate his neighbours and community to participate in similar programs across the municipality.