It was, quite literally, Jane Topping’s final wish that her property near Athens be accepted by TIWLT as an ecological gift. It came together in April, 2019, just shortly before her passing. And TIWLT is not just honoured by that gift, but very pleased by the incredible richness of the natural and cultural history of this 111 acre/ 45 hectare property.
The Farm at Glen Elbe is roughly in thirds as farmland, forest and wetland. Elbe Creek flows through the Provincially Significant Wetland marsh from the north, and over an 8 meter waterfall into a ravine through the rich woodlands. The wetland is a vital service to the region as a filter system to remove the heavy nutrient and agricultural chemical loads from the farmland to the north. Elbe Creek finds its way southwest to Wiltse Creek’s wetlands and then Charleston Lake. The forest itself has a southern flavour, with black maple, shagbark hickory and prickly ash. The hayfields provide winter feed for a neighbour’s cattle and in summer are forage space for grasslands birds.
This is one of the region’s most culturally rich places. The falls was a treasure for early settlers, and powered timber and flour mills from the end of the 1700s. The house at the farm was once called Evergreen Lodge, and was built from the early mill’s lumber, in 1838, and at the farm was an early post office and stagecoach stop. There is an abandoned railbed through the centre of the property from the Brockville to Westport Railway, with a whistle stop for the cheese and cheese box factories, mills and to pick up children to go to high school in Brockville each day.
The Farm at Glen Elbe has so many features and assets, that TIWLT will transform the property to an experience learning centre. Restoration of the old house is underway, and one day the old wood barn too will be restored. An organic market garden operation will begin in mid 2021. The Farm at Glen Elbe, with conservation programs, historical features, research into wildlife, farm management practices and contribution to the local economy encapsulates everything that TIWLT stands for – an ideal showcase of conservation in the community.
Fund needed: $23,300