Sponsor our hedgerow!

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All around us we see that nature has been stripped away for human convenience.

What if there were an easy way to make a REAL tangible difference?

At Willow Creek Permaculture Farm, we’ve done research, and are working on a fantastic traditional way to partner with nature: hedgerows!

What is a Hedgerow?

Hedgerows are a type of living fence. Trees are planted much closer than normal, then ‘laid’ (a type of intensive pruning) every few years to create a dense living barrier. The pictures above show examples of hedges after they have been laid. It will be 5-7 years until we lay ours for the first time.

Advantages for nature:

    • Creates habitat for smaller animals and places for birds to nest safely.
    • Abundant food in the form of berries, nuts, and seeds for animals to eat.
    • Cover for animals to travel long distances without having to leave the safety of the hedgerow.
    • Trees capture carbon and sink it in the soil, keeping it out of the atmosphere.
    • Acts as windbreak to slow down extreme winds which can lead to larger trees being knocked over.
    • Reduces erosion by soaking up excess water, and creating a physical barrier to slow water that is flowing downhill.

Advantages for humans:

    • Creates a ‘fence’ so dense that it will keep domestic livestock in the field, and out of the creek valley, where they might cause erosion.
    • Pruning during management creates products such as small firewood, and materials to make baskets.
    • Abundant nuts and berries (a double-win, since many will be left for wild animals as well).
    • Many of the advantages for nature above are also great advantages for humans.

Our Hedgerow at Willow Creek Permaculture Farm

We identified a wonderful place for a hedgerow. The 350m/1150′ hedge runs from behind our barn out along the top of the ridge at the top of the creek valley that runs across our farm. It stands at the edge of a hay field, which will make it ideal for keeping in livestock (when it’s mature in a few years), and by being at the top of the ridge, it is ideally sited to prevent erosion by water.

In spring 2021, after more than a year of planning, we started the huge job of planting all the trees for the hedge. So far, over 600 trees have already been planted, with close to 1000 still to go in Fall 2021, and Spring 2022.

Trees in our Hedgerow

We’ve chosen native species, or species that are naturalized, but not invasive, in Ontario. Here are the trees that make up our team:

  • Honey Locust – The major powerhouse that will make up about 40% of the hedgerow. It responds to being pruned with spiky tendrils that will prevent domestic livestock from getting through the hedge. It’s pods are actually a great forage food for livestock too
  • Osage Orange – Another spiky tree that will make up around 10% of the hedgerow. Like Hawthorn in Europe, Osage Orange has a long history of use in hedgerows. It’s wood also has a high reputation for making of bows, and other things that require some flexibility.
  • Hazel – A mainstay of hedges, with the added bonus of not only delicious nuts for humans and animals alike, but also a very flexible wood, that is used for staking the hedge when laying it
  • Chestnut – As with hazel, Chestnut plays an important part in producing edible nuts, and excellent quality trimmings.
  • Red Osier Dogwood – You may have seen the bright red stems of these in natural areas. They are excellent in baskets, in fact, an osier specifically refers to a tree/shrub used in basketwork.

  • Nannyberries – This native shrub produces berries that are favourites of birds, and good for a trail nibble by humans as well – they taste a bit like dates.
  • Serviceberries – Also known as Juneberries, and perhaps most familiarly as Saskatoon Berries, the berries of these trees are also favoured by wild creatures, as well as humans.

  • Red Mulberry – Another tree that produces abundant berries that people and critters love, and adapts well to the requirements of hedges.

 

Along the length of the hedge, about every 20m, there will be a ‘feature’ tree that is allowed to grow to full height, while the rest of the hedge is laid. These will provide snags and other habitat for birds or other animals that can make use of them. For these, we’ve planted a variety of long-lived nut trees, including hickories, and black walnut.

Budget

Including the trees, temporary electric fence to protect the hedge from deer, and tree guards to protect the trees from small rodents, the total cost of the hedge, without labour, is nearly $10,000!

We’ve managed to secure grants from Alternative Land Use Services (ALUS), and Lower Thames Conservation Authority, and the Species at Risk Partnerships on Agricultural Lands program (SARPAL), but these don’t cover all the expenses.

Help us make this important dream a reality!

We need your help to support this amazing project. We’re happy to plan and design the project, work with tree suppliers, plant, and maintain the project, but financial support helps give us the ability to use our labour for all those pieces of the puzzle.

Additional information

Sponsorship Level

One Metre, Five Metres, 10 Metres

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