We have always tried to achieve carbon offsets in compensation for the greenhouse gases we create when we travel. Usually this has involved planting trees, which, while not active carbon sinks at the time of planting, become significant absorbers of carbon dioxide as they mature.
My brother-in-law, Dave Metzger, retired from active farming several years ago, and has taken an ever greater interest in the environment and its wildlife now that he is freed from the burden of using his land only for the purpose of making a living. Dave has lived on the same corner of Highway 86 and Manser Road in Wellesley Township for all of his seventy years, so he has witnessed the numerous changes that have occurred over a long span, and he has often commented on the effects of modern farming on wildlife. To give just one example, he remembers vividly the Bobolinks which populated the area when he was a boy, and recalls their joyful song, a constant feature of spring. He made the comment that migrant Bobolinks from the pampas of Argentina were his companions. These grassland birds nested in the fields of Dave's boyhood and were able to raise their young when the first cut of hay did not occur until June and some fields were left fallow to regenerate their nutrients. With chemical farming, earlier and more frequent cuts, increased mechanization, these birds enliven the landscape no longer.
Dave has embarked on a programme of planting native maples on his farm as part of a group called Maple Leaves Forever (www.mapleleavesforever.com) . This wonderful organization sponsors the proliferation of native maple saplings and provides them to landowners on a cost-shared basis. They assure that the trees come from a certified Canadian seed source, that they are compatible with the hardiness zone in which they are planted and reflect the arboreal patrimony of the area.
At a family gathering earlier this year, Dave mentioned his activity to me (he had already planted twenty-eight trees) and I agreed to split his portion of the cost on the next batch he planted. I am getting off very easily, of course, since Dave does all the work involved.
Yesterday, Miriam and I had the great pleasure of going to see “our” thirty trees, and we will be doing more in the future. Dave has done a marvellous job of planting and the saplings look healthy and well-established. Some are already showing considerable growth. This truly is a great programme and one which we hope will spread and flourish throughout the region.
Dave's grandson Bennett helped him with the planting and Dave is already telling Bennett that in twenty years he will need to pick him up at the nursing home so that he can see how his trees are progressing!
I am proud to call Dave Metzger my brother-in-law and I salute his commitment to the restoration of some of the natural landscape we have eliminated.