Windbreaks on the Prairies

Online is an 18 minute historic documentary online from the National Film Board entitled, “Windbreaks on the Prairies,” created in 1943.

The Dominion Department of Agriculture set up an experimental station at Indian Head, SK which later became known as the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration[PFRA.] This tree nursery distributed many hardy, drought resistant tree saplings for distribution across the prairies in response to the devastation caused by the drought” years during the “Dirty Thirties.” The recognition of the value of trees for the soil, and water became evident.

George Genereux Urban Regional Park and Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area had their beginnings through the City of Saskatoon Parks Department receiving advice and saplings from the PFRA in 1972 – 50 years ago.

The film, Windbreaks on the Prairies, says; “In the protection of trees birds will flourish and keep insects under control.  As one pioneer woman who has grown many trees. says without trees we would have left our farm long ago.  To us trees are the hope of the earth like healthy children to a home.  The world without trees would be as world without children.”

In My Life My Trees, Richard St. Barbe Baker puts it this way….”Thus the forest manures itself and, with the help of the earthworms and other animals, distributes this manure through the upper layers of the soil. Everything is done by nature quietly and efficiently. No artificial fertilizers, no selective weed-killers, no pesticides and no machinery are needed in the household of the natural forest.”

And from the same book, Baker also says, “If a man loses one-third of his skin he dies; the plastic surgeons say, “He’s had it.” If a tree loses one-third of its bark it dies .. .. Would it not be reasonable to suggest that if the earth loses more than a third of its green mantle and tree cover, it will assuredly die? The water table will sink beyond recall and life will become impossible.”

From the fall of 2019 when the soil was at saturation point, the weather cycled. 2020 was reported as the worst drought in decades, 2021 also showed a year of drought, the worst drought ever recorded, and hardships across Saskatchewan. Now the winter snowfall brings hope for 2022.

As Saskatchewan knows, drought is a cyclical occurrence on the prairies. On page 8 of the Ray Garnett, Madhav Kahndear report “From Drought to Wet Cycles the Changing Climate of the Canadian Prairies” maps show the extreme differences between water levels between the Sept 2001/2002 drought conditions as compared to the 2005-2006 wet saturation levels.

The benefits of trees are amazing in both situations, during years of high water tables, trees mitigate flooding, and during years of drought, trees help to raise the water table, and produce microclimates attracting rain. This theory has been proven effective in afforesting the deserts around the world.

Though the PFRA is now defunct, the Shand Greenhouse still grows and distributes trees. The City of Saskatoon has a Request A Tree program. The University of Saskatchewan has a wonderful Shelterbelt DSS tool for shelterbelt planning, and the One School, One Farm Shelterbelt Program connects urban youth with rural farms with invaluable Eco-Buffers and shelter belts programmes.

This supports both the United Nations Decade on Restoration and The United Nations General Assembly International Day of Forests on 21 March 2022

For directions as to how to drive to “George Genereux” Urban Regional Park
For directions on how to drive to Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area
For more information:
Blairmore Sector Plan Report; planning for the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area, George Genereux Urban Regional Park and West Swale and areas around them inside of Saskatoon city limits
NEW P4G District Official Community Plan
Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area is located in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada north of Cedar Villa Road, within city limits, in the furthest south west area of the city. 52° 06′ 106° 45′
Part SE 23-36-6 – Afforestation Area – 241 Township Road 362-A
Part SE 23-36-6 – SW Off-Leash Recreation Area (Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area ) – 355 Township Road 362-A
S ½ 22-36-6 Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area (West of SW OLRA) – 467 Township Road 362-A
NE 21-36-6 “George Genereux” Afforestation Area – 133 Range Road 3063
Wikimapia Map: type in Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area
Google Maps South West Off Leash area location pin at parking lot
Web page:
Where is the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area? with map
Where is the George Genereux Urban Regional Park (Afforestation Area)?with map
Pinterest richardstbarbeb
Blogger: FriendsAfforestation
Tumblr friendsafforestation.tumblr.comFacebook Group Page: Users of the George Genereux Urban Regional Park
Facebook: StBarbeBaker Afforestation Area
Facebook for the non profit Charity Friends of the Saskatoon Afforestation Areas Inc. FriendsAreas
Facebook group page : Users of the St Barbe Baker Afforestation Area
Facebook: South West OLRA
Reddit: FriendsAfforestation
Twitter: St Barbe Baker Charity Twitter:FriendsAreas
Mix: friendsareas


Please help protect / enhance your afforestation areas, please contact the Friends of the Saskatoon Afforestation Areas Inc. (e-mail / e-transfers )Support the afforestation areas with your donation or membership ($20.00/year). Please donate by paypal or by using e-transfers Please and thank you! Your donation and membership is greatly appreciated. Members e-mail your contact information to be kept up to date!

Donations can be made through Paypal, Canada Helps, Contact Donate A Car Canada, SARCAN Drop & Go 106100594 for the Friends of the Saskatoon Afforestation Areas Inc.

United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration

“Be like a tree in pursuit of your cause. Stand firm, grip hard, thrust upward. Bend to the winds of heaven..”

Richard St. Barbe Baker


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