Greenbelt Restoration Work Party: January 21, 2018

I returned from India on the afternoon of Saturday January 13 excited to get back to my work in the Greenbelt. I had scheduled a work party for the first day that I thought I would be reasonably fit after such a long trip. That day was Sunday January 21.

Sixteen people participated in the work party: 2 GreenFriends members, 9 students from UW’s Introduction to Environmental Science course, 3 neighbors, a high school student and her mother.

The group was enthusiastic and accomplished so much. One team worked to remove ivy and blackberry rootballs from a section of the property we haven’t tackled before.

(You can enlarge the photos by clicking on the galleries.)

Another team worked in the “rack zone”. When the blackberry vines that had been growing on this property for 30-50 years were initially cut down, we discovered an old house foundation.  A volunteer suggested that we use the foundation to store all of the racks that hold the blackberry rootballs, ivy and bindweed that we dig out. [Note: We put the debris on racks so it stays off the ground. That way the plants won’t re-root, and by having air flow coming up from the bottom of the rack, the debris will decompose faster. Also keeping the racks in one area, rather than scattered throughout the site, gives us more planting space.]

When the debris decomposes, it becomes new soil. Our plan is to spread the partially decomposed materials throughout the foundation and build new racks on top of them. Eventually there will be a thick layer of dirt in the foundation and we will be able plant beautiful shrubs and ground covers in it.

During this work party, we started taking the racks apart for the first time.

As each one was disassembled, a new rack was built on top of the partially decomposed debris, and then the ivy and blackberry rootballs the other team had just removed from their work area were placed on top of the new racks. It will take several work parties to redo all of the racks but we got a good start. (Click on the photos below to see the full captions.)

My neighbor John, who has diligently worked on this project from the beginning, cleared an area of blackberry canes and rootballs.

For the last part of the work party, John and Jason worked in an area where ivy had killed two trees by wrapping itself around the tree trunks.

While they were doing that, the rest of us moved 1000 square feet of burlap bags from the street into the Greenbelt. I had no idea we would be able to move all of it in an hour, but we did!

Having the bags in the Greenbelt will give us easier access to the burlap when we are ready to spread it over newly cleared land. [Note: Spreading burlap bags over the cleared land helps prevent weed growth. Over time they will decompose and enrich the soil.]

In the past, we have dumped the burlap into mounds.

At a work party last fall, one group of students laid the burlap bags flat. Those bags were so much easier to spread than the wrinkled ones, so we decided to place all of burlap we were moving into flat piles!

Mother Nature really blessed this work party. The weather forecast app said the chance of rain at the beginning of the event was 90% and that the rain would continue throughout. The reality was that it sprinkled as I was setting up ahead of time and we had NO rain during the three hour work party. About an hour after the work party was over, it poured. Grace prevailed.

Even though I was still dealing with jet lag from my India trip, I was in bliss throughout this event. I love this work!

I give special thanks to everyone who helped by leading or being part of a team as well as to the neighbor who was willing to come early and help everyone sign in as they arrived.

Our next work party will be Saturday, February 3. If you live close enough to Seattle to participate and want to join us, you would be more than welcome! If you are interested in attending, leave a comment below.

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