Still very active at nearly 90 years of age, Joe Hickson is a farmer who has restored a significant part of his farm to forest and wetland over many years. His work with ERCA spans decades, and he and his wife Joyce have planted 23,450 trees on their 88.5 acre property located in the Muddy Creek watershed within the Municipality of Leamington. Joe personally assisted with developing the restoration plan, planting trees, placing logs and other habitat features in the constructed wetlands, and maintaining the site through mowing and weed removal activities over the growing season. Joe also collected hundreds of nuts from surrounding forests.
The Hickson property, a farmland that was previously used to support him and his family through the Great Depression, enjoys a long history in the Hickson bloodline starting with his great grandfather. Joe’s father initiated planting efforts with Lands and Forests in the 1930s and since then, Joe Hickson has had a passion for trees. Upon retiring from a long farming career, Joe decided to do what any steward of the land would do, restore it to its natural state.
The benefits that Mr. Hickson has noticed as a result of the planting program include the return of diverse local wildlife including foxes and wild turkeys, increased dragonfly populations, prairie grasses and wildflowers. His efforts have also contributed to the restoration and delisting of the Muddy Creek watershed from being an area of concern.
Mr. Hickson is a real and life-long steward of the land, and has been a wonderful partner in promoting stewardship to others in our community. He has previously been honoured as a Trees Ontario Green Leader, and with ERCA’s Conservation Award for Environmental Achievement, and we are most pleased to recognize him as a Conservation Champion.