Pits & Quarries
North Dumfries Pit award showcases progressive rehab
June 21, 2023 By Elizabeth Bate
North Dumfries, Ont. — Heidelberg Materials and Cambridge Aggregates is winning awards for their beautiful farmland.
The team at the North Dumfries Pit was presented with the 2022 Judges’ Choice Award in progressive rehabilitation from the Ontario Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (OSSGA) at an on-site presentation June 14.
The farmers and landowners partnered with Heidelberg, John Edworthy and his son Tim, are primarily growing corn this year as a cash crop on 40 acres of the pit floor.
Heidelberg general manager Kevin Hurley says the Edworthys have been heavily involved in the rehabilitation process, ensuring the site meets its goal of continuing to be productive agricultural land even before the pit’s licence is surrendered.
“We’ve progressively rehabbed this site. It serviced the local Waterloo region community with aggregates for their buildings that are going up, and houses and roads. To get it back to beautiful farmland and have the farmers be happy with how the crops are going as soon as possible — it’s nice to have a good news story,” Hurley said.
Farming is not the usual business of pit operators, but OSSGA board member Ken Zimmerman thinks it should potentially be incorporated into more operations.
“The industry’s changed over the last 20 to 30 years. There’s really no reason to wait until the end to progressively rehabilitate a site,” he said.
“There’s all kinds of benefits to getting it done sooner, rather than later. Why would you wait until the end? You have to move soil, it costs more money to move the soil twice, and you don’t want the soil sitting, so why would you not want it back on the floor and landowners such as the Edworthy’s using the property for agricultural use?”
Zimmerman said allowing soil to sit for too long may even be harmful to future use, killing the nutrients. Reintegrating the soil with the land sooner allows it to settle, creating a better environment for future crops.
John Edworthy says he was hesitant at first to allow Heidelberg to start operations on his land. With over a decade of partnering with the pit, he now has no doubt he made the right choice.
“It’s gone well,” he said. “I hope people appreciate what we have done.”
Tim Edworthy’s daily view of the pit is as close as they come; the landowner’s home still sits right next door to the operation.
Edworthy says the lack of a crusher on the site, as well as strict regulations about operating hours, means the pit has been quiet and respectful during their tenure.
“They’re the best neighbours you could ask for,” he said.
Both father and son said they would recommend any farmer take the opportunity to work with pit operators like Heidelberg Materials and Cambridge Aggregates.
Hurley says recent press coverage insisting pits and quarries cannot be returned to their natural state is simply wrong.
“Often you only hear one side of the story and it’s not necessarily fact based. Getting that information out there hopefully helps people to understand the reality,” he said. “This is sustainable construction at its finest.”
OSSGA director of environment and sustainability Ashlee Zelek says the Judges’ Choice Award is meant to drawn attention to the importance of progressive rehabilitation.
“The Judges’ Choice award celebrates the techniques and approaches to progressive rehabilitation,” she says. “It’s important for the community to see and understand that extracted areas of the site are being continually restored.”
The next phase of the plan for the North Dumfries Pit will include even more active farmland, as well as restoring the native ecological system by adding Oak Savannah, Woodland and prairie and native grassland.
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