Landowner Leaders Profile
My wife Marilyn and I were both raised on farms in southern Huron County. After lengthy teaching careers in Kent County, we decided to re-establish our rural roots and in 2006 purchased a 58-acre property in Dawn Euphemia Township, near Florence in southern Lambton County. It was named “Mulberry Meadows”!
The property has 40 acres of fairly young Carolinian woodlands straddling Fansher Creek, near the junction with the Sydenham River.
The property also had 18 acres of actively cropped agricultural land. With the financial assistance of the St Clair Region Conservation Authority as well as the Lambton Stewardship Network, we returned approximately 14 acres to a more natural state. Approximately 5 acres was seeded into tall grass prairie, 2 acres into a nut-tree plantation, and 2 acres into a hardwood (mainly oak and hickory) woodlot. In addition, 4 acres along the property boundary was planted with trees and berry producing shrubs to create a windbreak.
Another habitat project included the digging of 5 ponds in a cascade-type flow through the property, with the lowest pond flowing into Fansher Creek. This design fit well with the undulating nature of the topography. The end result is a multi-faceted naturalized habitat.
A recent addition is the installation of honeybee hives on the property. With the many blossom-producing species incorporated into the tall grass prairie, there is a season-long supply of nectar. The very limited use of pesticides and the presence of the woodland are also conducive to a “honeybee oasis”! After an excellent season of honey production, we are planning on doubling the hive population next year.
We feel that this symbiotic relationship between tall grass prairie and healthy and productive bee populations is worthy of further study by agricultural academia!
Another notable aspect of this naturalization is that seeding the freshly dug pond banks with cattail seeds has been very successful in keeping Phragmites invasion to a minimum. It is only within the last year that a few of these invasive plants have appeared and required attention.
Due to the intense agricultural activity in the surrounding area, this retreat is an oasis for local as well as migratory wildlife species. Waterfowl and migratory songbirds are frequent visitors, as are seasonal nesting residents.
As experienced by others, there are local citizens who only look at farmland with an eye clouded by dollar signs. The majority of local folks however appreciate what we have done to enhance the general ambiance and health of our community. They understand that this is an example of responsible land stewardship for the present, as well as for the future.
Marilyn and Gary Eagleson