Paul Brenneman – Farming and land stewardship, what a wonderful mix

Farmers in Oxford County have always been tremendous stewards of the land, and Paul Brenneman certainly lives up to that reputation.

Oxford Stewardship Award nominee Paul Brenneman with wife Katherine

Working with Phil Holst from Ducks Unlimited, Brenneman recently created two small wetland sites on his property after losing several ash trees. Brenneman says the loss of ash trees created the opportunity to dig. 

“For us, it was an area in the forest that was dead that we wanted to revitalize and make into something useful that would hopefully help the farmland and increase wildlife habitat. We feel like we accomplished both.”

Both wetlands capture overland run-off from adjacent fields and are shaped to allow flow through the wetlands. Brenneman notes it has also attracted more wildlife.

“We are seeing the native grasses and that sort of thing revitalize and take off at the wetland site. The heron are starting to land around the pond, and the aquatic life is starting to come back; it’s really turning back into what it was at one-point years ago.”

He adds they hope the wetlands will catch run-off from the fields and hold the water that was pooling towards his field.

“Hopefully, it will hold it back in the wetland area and allow that water to flow naturally back to the creek that will ultimately wind up back in our great lakes.”

Brenneman says the smaller wetland was an important area to dig out for amphibians and reptiles to have a water source as well to catch the run-off.

“It is a bit more of a rolling topography on this farm, so that helps that water. Instead of going directly into the stream, it gets into the wetland and gets a chance to filter before it gets into the stream.”

Brenneman also worked with the Upper Thames Conservation Authority to reforest the areas decimated by the ash borer. Brenneman has planted a variety of trees and shrubs along the edge of the wetland, with around 500 seedlings in total. He also planted a 250 Norway Spruce windbreak on the property in 2023.