On Sunday September 13, 2020 members of the Sydenham Field Naturalists (SFN) presented the 2020 Friends of Nature Award to Jim and Gary Rodger, for the diverse habitat restoration projects accomplished on their farm property in the Blenheim area.
SFN officials say while this award is usually presented during the SFN annual banquet in April, this year it was delayed due to COVID-19 concerns.
This delay brought forth the opportunity for the members of SFN to gather at the Rodger’s property and present them with the award while maintaining social distancing as well as a walking tour of the various wetlands, reforestation and prairie plantings, SFN officials say.
Over the course of over 13 years, the Rodger family have worked with several conservation entities to accomplish the feat of retiring this fragile farmland.
The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Stewardship Kent, Ducks Unlimited Canada, Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority and ALUS Kent participation and roles in this project has resolved serious soil erosion issues and help convert the land into an exceedingly productive wildlife habitat, which helps remove some phosphorous while improving the water quality downstream, SFN officials added.
The aesthetics of the property has significantly improved and is a stunning example of native biodiversity with an abundance of plants species and wildlife.
Their actions and stories express that most farm properties have areas where the crop production is marginal, SFN officials say.
The best return on land investment is by setting aside those areas for nature.
While farming the good land makes sense, some land simply is not meant to be farmed yet can still have value, SFN officials added.
“The Sydenham Field Naturalists appreciates the Rodger family for their contributions to nature and taking time in sharing their stories of the work that has been done,” SFN officials added.
Here is a video from the presentation as well:
Here are a few more photos by Herman Giethoorn from the event: