Westwood Comes Planting
Natural areas like the Todmorden Mills Wildflower Preserve suffer under the vicious pressures of urbanity without some level of human stewardship. Irresponsible use, invasive species, erosion, pollution, encroachment, and an assortment of other harmful influences relentlessly assault these spaces, and were it not for people working to preserve, protect and enhance them, it is doubtful they would thrive.
Todmorden enjoys a long tradition of land stewardship, born in 1991 when Charles Sauriol and Dave Money first founded the Todmorden Mills Wildflower Preserve Committee. But at nine hectares in size, the group of dedicated volunteers that tend to the site can only accomplish so much. Help from organizations and institutions in the local community has been an important and much-welcomed facet of the preserve's ongoing care.
For the last eight years or so, students from nearby Westwood Middle School have devoted time to help with plantings. Under the banner of the Rotary Ecosystem Education Program, students are given instruction on proper planting, taught about the importance of our native plant communities, and brought in to the site to work.
This year, roughly thirty students were in attendance, diligently planting along the eastern banks of the oxbow, just north of Todmorden Pond. Bur oak were planted near the trail. Angelica, tall meadow-rue, Bebb’s willow, and riverbank wild-rye were positioned all along the water's edge. Bloodroot, ostrich fern, thimbleweed, and blue violet found homes in shady nooks here and there. Todmorden volunteers were there to assist, as were a few folks from Urban Forest Associates Inc., who delivered materials, knowledge and training.
The relationship between Todmorden, Urban Forest Associates Inc., Toronto East Rotary Club, and Westwood Middle School is an inspiring model of community empowerment. This combination of action, mentorship and education is a powerful vehicle for cultivating the kind of beneficial, long-term, vested interest so sorely needed to help ensure the preservation and enhancement of our natural spaces.