We recently had the pleasure of visiting 12 farm properties in Bruce County that OFT is working towards protecting. Staff attend many site visits in preparation for completing an easement (meeting with the landowners, surveyor, appraiser, etc.), and we then complete annual site visits every year thereafter. But, having the opportunity to fully immerse yourself in the work of assessing the biodiversity of the property was a highlight.

Every day we walked the fields, stood patiently in key locations, looked and listened for species at risk and other species that call themselves home on these farm properties. Across the 1200 acres we found over 70 different species of trees, shrubs, and wildlfowers, including an endangered butternut on two of the farm properties. We also saw, heard, or saw signs of 25 different bird species, five mammals, five amphibians, and 11 invertebrates, including monarch butterflies, a species of special concern in Ontario.

The sheep and cows grazing in the fields watched us curiously as we walked by. The family was busy at work bringing in the last of the hay for the season. It was a normal autumn week on the farm, except for the two OFT visitors taking notes on all the farm had to offer and taste testing heritage apples along the way. 

The air was cool and brisk and it stood out to us how fresh everything smelled (even around the cows!). When we looked around, it was a good reminder of why we protect farmland. Every field, woodlot, stream, and pond offered a home to many different species.

Driving into town and then back to the office, we saw how close the urban sprawl was getting to the farm properties we just visited, and more than ever we know how much we need to protect the farm fields and forests, forever.

– Emma Jane and Heather, OFT Interns