Trees for Mapleton tour of several farms was ruled a success

Area farm­ers came out to second annual Trees For Mapleton Fall Tour and Workshop on Nov. 4 to hear about increasing in­come and adapting to climate change.

Local farmers, industry professionals, and Trees For Map­le­ton staff met for a bus tour to three sites, starting from the Moorefield community cen­tre.

Nathan Munn, a forestry specialist with the Grand River Conservation Authority, explai­n­ed the significance of a great roadside tree planting close to Conestoga Lake park run by the GRCA.

The mature cedars planted parallel to the road serve as a “living snow fence” and help  maintain good road conditions during the winter.

Property owners were told about the living snow fence program in Wellington County and the incentives it offers, including $1,850 per kilometre for taking land out of production to plant the trees.

The next stop along the  free tour was a site highlighting the significance of strategically planted windbreaks on agricultural lands.

The Ross property served as an ideal location for professional forester Pete Williams to talk about the logistics of windbreak plantings as well as the potential for increased farm income.

Williams, who also participated in last year’s fall tour,  explained to farmers why, how, and where to plant windbreaks in order to maximize their value. His expertise in forestry and previous experience as a manager of the University of Guelph Agroforestry research program were used on the tour.

At stop number three Larry Halyk, of the county’s stewardship council and the Ministry of Natural resources, and James Neary, an aquatic specialist with the GRCA, gave an electro-fishing demonstration. Most attendees had not heard of that practise.

Halyk and Neary used electrical currents to sample what was living in a small stream on a property that has had land retired and trees planted along the banks.

Their demonstration proved the significance of planting buffers along streams and creeks. Everyone was surprised to find a thriving ecosystem in the small stream.

Halyk explained that in areas like Conestoga Lake, which have had heavy tree planting done in the past, new species of fish are flourishing where they could not have previously survived.

The fall tour also served as a means of introducing Dallas Campbell, recently hired as the Trees for Mapleton coordinator. Paul Day, chairman of the program, explained to the crowd there is now a “man on the ground” to help and answer any questions.

Day went on to stress that Mapleton is fortunate to be the only municipality in Ontario with nearly 100% funding and a farm forester dedicated to the township.

Campbell relayed a message of hope and excitement to area farmers as he takes on this project.

“I’ve seen this work in oth­er areas and now there is a heavy focus on Mapleton Township,” he said, explaining how many agencies have committed greater-than-usual funding and attention to Trees for Mapleton. Many people across Ontario recognize this project has  potential and are watching to see the results in Mapleton, Campbell added.

Rob Johnston, manager of the Wellington County Green Legacy tree nursery, spoke the impact of 160,000 trees grown and made available per year at the nursery.

Johnston also touched on the environmental effect of local tree planting, including climate change reduction, and he brought along trees for door prizes during the free lunch.

To close the day, Campbell explained the great funding available to property owners in Mapleton. He said the onus may be on farmers to help in­crease local forest cover, but it is very easy and he is available to guide anyone interested through the process.

This information session was funded in part through Greencover Canada, a program of the Agricultural Policy Framework (AFP), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.

The Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association ad­min­isters Greencover Canada on behalf of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs.

Organizers thanked Trees for Mapleton partners, as well as the property owners who attended. For more information call Campbell at 519-638-3313 extension 42, or toll free at 1-866-900-4722 extension 2259.