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Spotlight On: Trevelyan Farm

By April 13, 2021April 15th, 2021No Comments

Trevelyan Farm is TIWLT’s newest conservation easement property. With nearly 200 acres of beautiful wilderness, it’s easy to sing its praises. But instead of singing them ourselves, we’d like to introduce you to some of the folks that have stewarded and enjoyed this property for many years.

Photo: Tanya Ambrose

John Ambrose, one of the donors of the property, wrote this about Trevelyan Farm’s conservation values:

“Recently, the Ambrose family placed their 179-acre farm on Ballycanoe Road under a conservation easement with the Thousand Islands Watershed Land Trust (TIWLT). The farm, which includes 20 acres of Leeders Creek wetland and another 100 acres of mature and semi-mature mixed forest cover, reflects the rich biodiversity of TIWLT, in the Frontenac Biosphere Reserve. A key focus of the land trust is the Leeders Creek wetland complex, because it is so very important to protecting water quality, wildlife and in its capacity to offset both floods and drought. The owners recognize the importance of protecting these lands for the maintenance of quality water within the Leeders Creek watershed. Leeders is one of the main tributaries that flow into Charleston Lake and what is good for Leeders is good for the Lake. Of further interest to those associated with the Lake is that Trevelyan Farm does not use any chemicals on its crop fields and has not done so for over 45 years. No chemicals on the farm means no chemicals finding their way into the water system. The conservation easement ensures that no further development (housing or commercial) will ever take place on the property regardless of land ownership: the easement is 4EVER. The owners are well aware of rural lands across the province rapidly changing in use and development, and realize the loss of our rich biodiversity. Through this conservation easement the Ambrose family goal of protecting the farm’s rich biodiversity for future generations will be realized. The owners’ grand daughters love visiting the farm and exploring the farm’s rich biodiversity. The easement ensures that they and future generations will always have this opportunity. In addition to the farm woodlot currently absorbing many tonnes of carbon annually, 8,000 additional trees will be established this spring to contribute to the offsetting of society’s carbon dioxide production – and in a special small way, to counter climate change.”

The ecological features of this property certainly cannot be understated – but the property has provided many moments and memories as well. Here is a piece written by Hazel, one of the Ambroses’ granddaughters and the property’s best spokesperson, entitled “My Secret Garden”:

“The most magical garden I have ever played in is actually not a garden. It is my Grandfather’s apple orchard. It’s not just the orchard but all of my grandparents’ property seems magical. There is so much to explore on their property like the grassy fields, orchard, vegetable garden and the woods.

When you drive into their driveway there is a sort of shed-like garage. On the right there is a shed that used to be a chicken coop, a small barn and a big barn. My grandparents used to have pigs and a goat in the small barn and chickens in the shed, but that was when my mum was a child. Now the small barn is where my grandfather keeps wood and tools. Before all that the big barn was used to keep cows. But now it’s my grandfather’s workshop and a storage place. When I was younger they had parties in the barn but they don’t do that anymore.

Behind the small barn is the vegetable garden. It has tomatoes, carrots, beans, greens and much more. It’s bigger than my garden but not huge. On one side there are a row of beautiful golden sunflowers. One summer I was playing spies with my sister and we used big leaves to camouflage behind the tall flowers. We were watching my grandfather mow the lawn in front of the garden. The lawn has a fire pit for summer marshmallow roasting. We even threw a couple of rotten tomatoes to catch his attention and then scamper off.

Behind the big barn there is a field. A huge field that someone comes to turn the grass into hay barrels to feed to his cows. The hay barrels are taller than me and I have to scramble to climb on. A lot of hay comes off of them when we try to make foot holes so we try to only pick a couple so that we don’t destroy them all. Whenever there in the field and I have a friend over we climb them and jump off and run around to play tag. In that field there is a clump of trees concealing a small fort. The trees around it are perfect for climbing and hiding us from anyone looking our way. Once I brought my friend there and we climbed the trees and crept around the field playing spies. I have a pair of binoculars so one of us could keep watch from the trees. Once again my grandfather was the one we were spying on because he was carrying something in his tractor.

Photo: Tanya Ambrose

On the left of the driveway there are flowers and a pathway to the front door. We don’t use the front door so we walk down a different stone pathway to the side door that opens to their old stone house. They built extensions for more space but the main house is very old stone.

Behind the house is the apple orchard. It’s small but every Fall we pick delicious apples. The trees are perfect for climbing because their branches are low to the ground, strong and reach out. Once I spent a whole afternoon out there with my little sister and my friend. We played this magical kingdom game. We each got a base with two trees and we threw bad apples at each other’s feet and shot imaginary arrows at each other trying to get the magical gem that had the imaginary kingdom under a spell.

You might think that that is enough property for a girl to roam around free on but my grandparents own even more property. Across the road are a couple more fields that they own mostly so that people don’t build houses on it. I got to go for a ride on the tractor there which was exciting. They also own the woods near the field with my fort. There is a trail to go down to a couple other fields and then to a forest. It’s a half an hour hike through the woods and I like to look around and see what little creatures could live around there whether they are fairies or mice.

My grandparents’ property is a magical place. I have even more stories about being there, from age one to twelve. There is no end of adventure and no limit to your imagination.”