Conservation Spotlight: Blain Farm Restoration

Welcome to Blain Farm, a 67-acre farm property with 1.3km of frontage along the Thames River on the edge of the Skunk’s Misery natural area. Thames Talbot Land Trust purchased the property in 2009 from Wilbert and Eleanor Blain, who’s family had farmed the land for over 70 years. TTLT recognized the importance both of agriculture in the area, and of the natural features of property, including a forested buffer along the river. This riverine forest serves as a natural corridor connecting the Thames River to the core of Skunk’s Misery, one of southwestern Ontario’s important natural areas.

The first restoration project we undertook at Blain Farm was to expand the forested area along the river. A diverse mix of Carolinian trees were planted across five acres and have been carefully tended over the years by dedicated volunteers. The forested area is now just over 25 acres in size, a little over a third of the total property. The rest of the land is leased out in agricultural production under an environmental farm plan.

More recently, we decided to create some additional habitat at the farm by installing a wetland pond. We chose a low-lying spot that often floods in the spring and, with the help of an expert, dug out some of the soil to create a permanent pond. The pond is contoured to create a mix of deeper and shallower areas, so that a range of plants and wildlife can find a home there. Local native plants like Blue Flag Iris, Virginia Wild Rye, and Blue Vervain were planted on the wetland edges and slopes. The Cattails will find their own way there.

In 2020, we’re also undertaking an exciting new project at Blain Farm, that blends farm production with restoration of nature. Demand for locally sourced native seeds is growing, and we’re hoping to meet some of that demand. We’re planting native meadow and prairie plants in rows so that we can more efficiently collect seeds each year. The chosen plants are perennial, they don’t need fertilizers and irrigation, and they contribute to building soil over time. Pollinating birds and insects will benefit from an abundance of native flowers. And we’ll have a steady and reliable source of native seeds that can be used in future restoration projects to spread native plants across the landscape.