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The Hare’s Corner: Bringing a Conservation Practice from Ireland to Millbrook

A small bridge leading to a forest

By Tanner Stevens, former CCC Intern with Kawartha Land Trust

Have you ever heard of a concept called “The Hare’s Corner”? It’s an expression that originated in Ireland and has now made its way to Millbrook, Ontario, through two conservation-minded farmers and Kawartha Land Trust (KLT).

According to the Burrenbeo Trust, a landscape charity located in the Burren region of Ireland, “The Hare’s Corner” is “an old farming expression for the corner of a field or an area of rough ground which wasn’t intensively farmed, so instead it was ‘left to nature’.” The premise is to leave land less suitable for agriculture alone to provide habitat for hares and other native species of flora and fauna. In 2021, Burrenbeo Trust started “The Hare’s Corner” initiative to harken back to its historic meaning and use and help local landowners enhance nature on their respective lands.

While the Burren makes up a small percentage of Ireland’s total lands, it is one of the most biodiverse areas in the country with over 70% of Ireland’s native species of flora found there. The Burrenbeo Trust’s Hare’s Corner project is a biodiversity initiative coordinated by the trust, to help farmers, landowners, and community groups in their region to receive “free advice and support to take small but impactful actions for nature on their land.” Through the initiative, they have partnered with landowners in the Burren to create ponds, woodlands, orchards, or “plans for nature.”

And now the concept and tradition of “The Hare’s Corner” has migrated from Ireland to Millbrook, Ontario. Kawartha Land Trust Partners in Conservation (PIC) members Noel and Kathleen Kerin steward a portion of their farm under the philosophy of The Hare’s Corner with help from KLT.

Noel came to Canada from the Burren, and, with him, the concept of The Hare’s Corner. The Kerin’s Anam Cara Farm joined KLT’s Partners in Conservation program in 2022 and has left a “corner,” roughly 30 acres, of the farm to nature. The Hare’s Corner on the Kerin’s farm includes a beautiful meadow, wetlands and forest. Although no Irish hares claim home to the corner, there are several beehives and a wide variety of species native to the Kawarthas, including Green Herons, Common Yellowthroats, Snapping Turtles, dragonflies, and an abundance of frogs that call it home.

“It’s wonderful to learn of this simple idea — born in the west of Ireland — [is] being taken up by our friends in Canada,” said Dr. Brendan Dunford from Burrenbeo Trust. “Creating more space for nature on our land is an investment in our shared future, a small but significant statement of generosity and hope at a time when we most need it.”

In October 2023, Kawartha Land Trust visited Anam Cara Farms to plant 150 Tamarack and White Spruce trees in their Hare’s Corner.

Similarly to Burrenbeo Trust’s Hare’s Corner initiative, KLT’s Partners in Conservation program can help support conservation projects on private lands and joining the program is easy.

If you own more >30 acres of land in the Kawarthas and are interested in joining a community of landowners committed to caring for nature on their respective lands, reach out to us at [email protected].

Once you become a KLT Partner in Conservation, KLT staff and volunteers will conduct an ecological inventory and survey of your land. From those findings, we will create a personalized land stewardship guide for your property that includes findings from our visit. From there, we are able to offer advice and support on stewardship projects to support your conservation goals and nature on your land. You can learn more about the program on our website.

We offer our thanks again to the Kerins and Burrenbeo Trust for inspiring the use of an Irish conservation initiative in the Kawarthas.

Header photo: Bridge leading to The Hare’s Corner (Rachel Barrington)

Photos (counterclockwise): 1) Tanner Stevens, CCC Intern at Kawartha Land Trust, and Megan Greenwood, Stewardship Technician, planting trees at Anam Carra Farms in Millbrook. (R. Barrington). 2) Newly planted Tamarack Tree in “The Hare’s Corner” 3) Shaggy Mane mushrooms (R. Barrington) 4) KLT Partner in Conservation Kathleen Kerin hugging a large Burr Oak tree on her farm (R. Barrington) 5) Kawartha Land Trust team hugging the large Burr Oak. (Kathleen Kerin) 

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