Edge Habitat Reclamation Project
As the city of Morin Heights grows this project has been proposed to identify the ‘forgotten spaces’ – those little fields and hilly slopes, tangled shrubs and old trees hiding ancient fence posts and the remains of pioneer foundations. These areas often are home to complex wild habitats that are critical for bio-diveristy. This is edge habitat, what ecologists have recognized as being extremely important acting as pollination zones and insect/animal transportation corridors; these are diversity incubators and provide homes for hundreds of plants – many of which are medicinal – insects and small animals, not to mention local topsoil which is often rich and has taken decades to reach a state of fertility.
By ‘saving’ these areas and nurturing them we can provide mini-wildlands within the town limits that are not only pleasant to look at, but are also very important reminders of our past as a rural pioneering town. These ‘wild gardens’ hold tremendous potential. Instead of cleaning them up and planting grass and imported shrubs, annual flowers – all of which require large capital investment and continued maintenance using gas powered machines and increasingly scarce water supplies – we propose to allow and aid the natural process of re-wilding take its course and maximize the benefits of these fertile sun filled spots by planting edible native fruit bushes, medicinal herbs and flowers, beneficial ground covers that act as bee forage and insect habitat forming the basis of a healthy food chain.
These areas, properly cared for in the beginning of the project – will become areas rich in biodiversity providing not only natural habitat, but food and medicine for an educated populace, as well as enjoyable areas to walk through on foot-inspired town errands. They could be signposted as to what is growing in them and provide outdoor classrooms linked to educational programs with local schools. New apple trees along old barn foundations, Kiwi and wild grape arbors, wild oregano and mint harvesting areas, hillsides covered with ‘weeds’ (get weed quote – there are no weeds….just plants that we have not found a use for) the secrets of which translated by local herbalists.
These places are what makes our town a home because it is there we see the past. This rich history inhabits these wild hills and vacant lots, it is where the soul of the town breathes, between old churches, meadows and new parking lots. We realize the need for standardization of habitat in many urban areas – increasing sightlines, keeping visibility to a maximum, allowing cars and pedestrians to move smoothly along the same transportation corridors.
We also see the urgent need to save some of the character, some of the feel of a small town nestled in the hills, surrounded by nature and all it has to offer us, not just a place too recreate, and drive through, but a place to nourish ones body, mind and soul, in a town that remains connected to its roots by allowing them to grow. For all the newcomers coming in to this great place, it will keep its character, and this will help those newcomers feel like they are living in a real town, in a community, and not just another exit off the highway.