Improving water quality and enhancing biodiversity within our watershed, Catfish Creek, is a paramount goal for our agroecosystem. To do this, we are rooted in 3Rs: Regeneration, Resiliency and Relationships.
As part our strategy, we designed and constructed several wetlands and swales. We are fortunate to have local partners like the Catfish Creek Conservation Authority (CCCA), ALUS Elgin and Elgin Stewardship Council to help fund and manage these projects. Relationships span connections between pastures, soil, livestock, ourselves, our customers, community and on; these projects specifically highlight Relationships between soil and water and exemplify the outcome of our Relationships with conservation groups and local stakeholders.
In February, we were honoured to receive the 2017 Catfish Creek Conservation Award. Drake noted after receiving the award that we are lucky to live in a province that manages water quality and conservation efforts based on watersheds, not political boundaries. Management by watershed is more difficult, because it spans counties and municipalities, but it is far more effective and goal-oriented. Thank you to CCCA for the award, and to all of the organizations for their past and continued support!
Sally Martyn presented the award and gave a lovely introduction, transcribed below.
The Annual General Meeting provides the Catfish Creek Conservation Authority with the opportunity to recognize deserving individuals, businesses, and groups which have made outstanding contributions toward conservation in the Catfish Creek watershed.
Today, the members and staff are pleased to add Drake Larsen and Sarah Hargreaves to our distinguished list of conservationists with the 2017 CCCA Conservation Award.
Since , Drake and Sarah have been building their Three Ridges Ecological Farm business on a 50-acre parcel of land located in the Township of Malahide.
Drake and Sarah have been contributing consistently to the natural resources in the Catfish Creek watershed since they began their ecological farming operation [three] years ago. First, they started by creating a wetland and riparian area at the front of their property. In 2016, they continued their plan by building a series of wetlands and swales to move water from springs within a steep forested ridge into the wetlands before the water settles with the 10-acre field below. This 10-acre field was taken out of production and planted to Tallgrass Prairie, a critically engaged habitat. Next, they created a second series of swales at the front of the property on which they planted a variety of nut and fruit trees that will be grazed for animal feed.
In 2016, Drake joined the ALUS Elgin Partnership Advisory Committee to assist with administrative and technical decision making. Drake quickly became a farmer liaison for the ALUS Elgin Program so that he could act as representative of ALUS Elgin and assist with the monitoring and maintenance of ALUS participant projects. Sarah adds her expertise to this unique partnership as the current [Director of Research] for the Ecological Farmers [Association] of Ontario. Their Three Ridges Ecological Farm was showcased on the 2017 ALUS Elgin Annual Stewardship Tour.
The projects that Drake and Sarah have implemented have been efficiently managed each year. ALUS Elgin provides farmers with maintenance suggestions on an annual basis. [In 2017], invasive species control was completed near the wetland at the front of their property and in the Tallgrass Prairie. In 2018, Drake and Sarah will be completing a prescribed burn on the Tallgrass Prairie as part of a long-term maintenance strategy. The wetlands have filled up and are functioning property to infiltrate and slow down run-off. In summary, Thee Ridges Ecological Farm is very well-designed for the betterment of the landscape.
It is with great pleasure that I present the 2017 Catfish Creek Conservation Authority Conservation Award to Drake Larsen and Sarah Hargreaves.