Our vision at Jireh Hills Family Homestead is to create an educational and inspirational Sustainable Destination in southwestern Ontario. As a family-run, small business that been working hard to learn how to grow our own food, manage a woodland, and teach the next generation how to regenerate the land and leave it in better health than they found it, we have embraced the opportunity to share and involve our long-term goals with our guests.
We are committed to an on-going approach to improving our sustainability as an Agri-Tourism business that is in alignment with the Sustainability Development Goals of 2030. These goals embrace the environmental, economic, cultural and social impacts of the tourism industry on an individual basis.
We are currently undergoing a comprehensive assessment to achieve a Sustainable Tourism Certification. Find out more about his program at GreenStep Sustainable Tourism.
This process includes a one-on-one review of our business practices with a Sustainable Business Advisor to see how we’re doing against criteria aligned with the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.
We will then continue to work towards our goals and make improvements, by creating an action plan for continued success on our sustainability journey.
Some of the sustainability action plan items that Jireh Hills has undertaken include:
- quality education through offering classes in practical skills
- good health and well-being through hosting staycations and farm visits that encourage a connection to nature
- supporting a sustainable community through a Local Purchasing Action Plan
- affordable clean energy by using clean energy to power our Nature Lodges and farm buildings
- regenerative farming techniques that involve correct livestock rotation, no-till gardening, aerated composting of waste, and proper woodland management
- commitment to achieve optimal efficiency in water and energy consumption and reduction of waste outputs
Throughout the farm we have implemented many initiatives to support the tenets of sustainability. Here are some highlights of our stewardship:
- Ongoing work with Ducks Unlimited to develop and maintain a wetland habitat consisting of 3 ponds and 2 agri-drains to reduce soil erosion and increase habitat for wildlife and endangered species living in our area.
- Members of Sydenham Field Naturalists to work towards encouraging and promoting activities that would lead to a greater appreciation, preservation and conservation of of our natural heritage in our region
- Non-invasive boardwalk system to allow safe and controlled travel throughout our Carolinian woodland trails
- No fertilizer or chemical herbicides used on the homestead lawn, permaculture orchards, vegetable and herb gardens
- Regular collection of livestock waste to our aerated compost system
- Regular introduction of natural predators to control the invasive fly populations that spread disease
Natural rotating pastures and woodlands for all our livestock to graze, roam and regenerate the soil through manure
- Chickens and ducks are allowed to free-range in various areas and with other livestock to control pests and encourage regeneration of the soils
- Regular planting of native trees of the Carolinian forest, native flowers and herbs in various places throughout the homestead and woodlands
- Annual removal of invasive species of grasses in our ponds
- Strategic planting of native trees to provide windbreak, prevent soil erosion, create natural wildlife habitat and provide shade
- Collection of seeds each fall to propagate and re-plant the following year in our gardens
- Collection and preserving of medicinal herbs to be used in our soap making and herbal medicine classes
- An easy-to-use compost station for our guests to place all food wastes that will be composted in our aerated compost system
- On-site sawmill to produce building materials to be used on our property using dead wood harvested from our woodlands
- Recycling station for our guests to use for cardboard, plastics and metals
- Energy efficient lighting is used in all buildings
- All public spaces and water are heated with biomass using a highly efficient outdoor wood burner that creates minimal to zero output of carbon emissions
- All of our Nature Lodges will be “BullFrog Powered” using clean & green electric energy
- A portion of each overnight stay will be used to fund a clean energy project in Ontario through the “BullFrog Power” program
- Waste wood and culled trees are used for outdoor campfires for our guests
- Rain water is collected during the spring and summer months for livestock
- A slow-drip irrigation system is used to provide water for our permaculture orchard and gardens when needed
- Regular compost and wood chips are added to our orchard and gardens to minimize weed spread and control water loss
- We purchase and support local farmers and small businesses to provide our guests with additional foods while they are here including homemade soups, jams, honey, breads for overnight guests to enjoy
- We support local suppliers for additional building materials and products needed for various projects
- Guests are encouraged to pick and eat from our gardens as needed while they are here
- Classes and workshops to immerse guests in nature to promote good health and wellness
- Hire workers and volunteers from the local community
- Engage local community to provide a hosting ground for interactive learning opportunities, for example local homeschool groups
- Support of the local Sydenham River Nature Reserve and members of the Sydenham Field Naturalists www.ontarionature.org/programs/nature-reserves/sydneham-river/
- Ongoing Sustainable Purchasing Action Plan to buy local and support small business in our area