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Expanding Evermeadow - Part Three

Expanding Evermeadow - Part Three

As we have shared in previous blog posts, Evermeadow plans to grow and manage land beyond their existing farms, and we plan to be one of those farms. The land we live on is within the traditional territory of the Mississauga Anishinaabeg and Haudenosaunee Peoples. It is also located at the far east end of the Oak Ridges Moraine and is considered a land trust of the Oak Ridges Moraine. It is zoned as agricultural land, and we, like Evermeadow, have hopes to begin to support the transformation of the land for future generations. The land has been crop farmed for many years now, and with Josh’s help, we have been able to see the history of the crops farmed,  the unique geography of this land and the land surrounding us.  It has also helped us to become aware of what has been weakened over the years of working hard to serve the farmers or in some cases being left unused.

(View of the land from the north end) (photo by Joshua Noiseux)

This land is a kind of filter system for the crop fields around us. The rotations on our land and farms around us include corn, soybeans, and alfalfa mixes. Soybeans and corn are rotated back and forth, and then alfalfa is planted and maintained for five years to help to rejuvenate the soil. Our three smaller fields (we have 30 acres in all, including marshland and meadow) are now growing alfalfa for the second year.

A few years ago when Josh from Evermeadow delivered chickens to us we began conversations about working together, and last year Josh conducted a comprehensive consulting process to understand what exists on our land. The project had three phases: discovery, research, and planning, with hopes of implementing a management plan together with Evermeadow.

In the discovery phase, we articulated our dream/vision for the land. The research phase included detailed mapping, topographic images, water flow patterns, soil type, slope, aspect and elevation maps, historical land use, and biological surveys of the bird, insect, animal, and plant life, including invasive species. All in all, it was very thorough, and we now know much more about what is here. Josh also identified a list of available support and funding agencies that could assist with future land management work.

Our vision is to learn to live in harmony or in collaboration with the land.  That we leave the land in better shape than we found it.  We want to improve the fertility of the soil to support the natural world and human beings.  We would like to support community life on our farm through festival life and through learning opportunities.

(Top left - haying of the north field, right - same direction in the winter and the land map (map photo by Joshua Noiseux))

The final step was creating a list of potential ideas for the future that would help us achieve our land management goals, considering our financial and energetic resources (we are older 😉). Here is a short list of potential uses of the land:

  1. Plan for optimal sites for outbuildings, storage areas, and manure management (according to municipal and provincial regulations).
  2. A tree planting plan including maps, species, and planting program schedules.
  3. A hydrological management plan including ponds, swales, and drainage.
  4. A field use plan including suggested rotations, species selection, and plantings.
  5. Enterprise and business planning, considering species of livestock and plants that can fund themselves while achieving land management goals.

(photo by Joshua Noiseux)

Through the process, we learned that our land creates a kind of funnel from north to south, gathering runoff water from neighboring fields, filtering it through the marsh, and then moving it further on to a small meandering river that leads to Rice Lake.  The water is only visible above ground during the spring and fall.

Then it came down to us to decide what and when to take up the ideas shared.  Josh was helpful in pointing out ways of working with available funding opportunities to mitigate the costs of future projects and maximize expert knowledge and support.

(photos by Joshua Noiseux)

The goals we have decided to work towards include the following:

  • Establish a year-round vegetative cover for the soil, whether through perennial grass or annual-based cover crops, or some combination of the two. This helps accomplish two main ecological goals, along with many ancillary benefits: reducing or eliminating soil erosion and restoring soil microbial life and biodiversity.
  • Plan partial afforestation. After establishing permanent ground cover, planting native trees from locally adapted seed could act as a windbreak, provide habitat and food for wildlife, sequester carbon, and help regulate the water cycle on the property.
  • Consider tall-grass prairie (re)establishment. As the property is on the boundary of the Rice Lake Plains and was historically likely partially vegetated by native tall-grass species, it may be desirable to attempt to re-establish a native prairie ecosystem in all or part of the fields. The Nature Conservancy of Canada manages a nearby site – Hazel Bird Nature Reserve – and would be an interested partner in implementing any tall-grass prairie restoration. A tall-grass prairie would not be conducive to conventional agricultural production, but there are possibilities (being explored by Evermeadow Farm and others) of harvesting tall-grass prairie with grazing animals or for hay.
  • Consider proactive wetland management with relevant experts to:
    • Expedite water flow by ensuring unobstructed drainage at the southwest outlet and/or installing further drainage works or channels.
    • Retain/impound water in the form of a pond. It may be possible to work with Ducks Unlimited to capture and store water in a ponded area within the central wetland, providing numerous ecological benefits, particularly habitat creation and water filtration.

If all goes as planned, next year our north field will begin to be home to chickens and then later to sheep rotations. In three years, the other two fields will also become regeneratively farmed by Evermeadow. We have loved going through this process of learning with Josh and are very much looking forward to working together with Josh at Evermeadow to transform and strengthen the land.


  • Posted by Kate on

    This is such a wonderful blog post. Your commitment to regenerative agriculture is reflected from farm to loom. Such exciting plans! Keep up the amazing work.

  • Posted by Nora on

    This is so interesting and except for the chickens and sheep, it is more or less our plan for our own land.

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