Daria Koscinski and Adam Yates - Preserving a dream


Daria Koscinski and Adam Yates always dreamed of living on a big property surrounded by nature. They got their wish in 2012 when they bought their 67-acre farm within the headwaters of Nissouri Creek. About 50 acres of the property is designated as a provincially significant wetland. Yates says when they found the property, they instantly realized what a unique and amazing opportunity this was.

 Adam and Daria at their property posing for the OSA award photos


"We saw the potential right away to do some of the things we always wanted to do. Fifty acres were woodland, so we weren't starting from scratch. Much of the farmland was marginal, and we could see places that could be enhanced to expand on the nature already there." 

The couple built a home on the property in 2015. Koscinski grew up in Poland and spent most of her life in cities and towns, with her new home being the first one she has lived in that is surrounded by nature. She says they got to work right away after purchasing the property. 

"We started a little tree nursery about two to three years before we built the house. From that nursery, we started planting trees in the various corners of the fields that were difficult for our renter to access. We also planted hedgerows and windbreaks to create habitat for birds and other animals."  

Yates is an aquatic ecologist, and Koscinski is a conservation biologist, so they instantly recognized the property's intrinsic value. The first summer after the house was built, they laid out pollinator and shrub gardens around the house and excavated a constructed wetland. The couple established native plants in and around the wetland and added rock piles for ducks and turtles to bask. Now seven years old, the wetland attracts deer, coyotes and herons, while also being a favourite spot for barn swallows to hunt insects. Koscinski says everything they do has the future in mind.

"We are planting native trees and other plants that should be here. A lot of the gardens around the house are native plants that really support biodiversity, especially pollinators and birds. I think, for us, this was the dream where we could have fun with these projects and contribute to the local environment." 

Besides the wetland and pollinator gardens, they established a savanna on the north side of the property between the woodlot and fence line and planted a shelterbelt to provide wind protection and reduce soil erosion. Partnering with organizations like Ducks Unlimited and Upper Thames River Conservation Authority, the couple is now establishing a second wetland on the property to create more natural habitats. In addition, they have planned for half an acre of land to be seeded in a meadow around the new wetland. Yates says these open water areas, the meadow and savanna, will help diversify the area, attracting various wildlife.

"Ducks, green and blue herons and many frogs already live in the wetland. Deer, groundhogs, foxes, and coyotes use it as a water source. You could really see the difference it made in a dry year, animals taking advantage of the water source. A wood duck came in this year with nine babies. It ran out of water in the woods and came to our wetland. Having a deeper water habitat clearly made a difference this year."

Yates and Koscinski have enjoyed knowing they are making a difference to the natural environment and plan to continue enhancing their property for future generations.