November 19th was the last of this quarter’s service-learning sessions. We were lucky to have Dave, one of our regular team leaders, join us for the first time. Antje, another team leader, who has helped throughout the quarter, also attended.
Before I tell you about this work party, let me give you some backstory. In January 2019, we started taking apart the racks we used to dry the blackberry and ivy vines and weeds that we dig out. (Putting the invasive vines and weeds on racks prevents them from re-rooting.) We spread the dried debris that was on the racks inside the old house foundation that is on the site. Our goal was to eventually make that area a planting area. While some of the lower layers of debris has decomposed, most of it hasn’t.
That February, we planted one plant in the foundation as an experiment, to see what happened. That plant, an oceanspray shrub, is now 5 feet high!
We decided we would begin another foundation planting experiment during the November 19 service-learning session. We would plant 5 tall managrass and 4 Roemer’s fescue plants along the southern and western inside borders of the foundation’s walls.
There may be some of the debris that has composted enough to have become dirt, but if there is, it is far below the surface. Two of the students did the best they could do to create holes the debris and then added some dirt to the holes. Next, they planted the plants, continuing to add dirt in the space around the plants.
Once the students had planted the 9 plants, they reinforced a stretch of path by adding a 2-4 inch layer of wood chips to the existing path.
While those students were planting the grasses and reinforcing the path, other three students and two of the staff members started clearing blackberry and ivy vines, buttercup, grass and other weeds from an area near the entrance to the site. This is what that area looked like in April 2019, the first time we worked there.
Even though the area had been cleared before, the weeds had come back; and the shrubs had formed a thicket that hung across the sidewalk. By the time the first team finished their work, the clearing of this area was well underway.
The two teams joined together and cleared the rest of the weeds. While the students were digging out weeds, Dave cut down the dead laurel trunks that surrounded a pine tree. Then he and I pruned the shrubs. Once the invasive plants were gone, we all covered the area with wood chips.
This was one of those weeks that I got so involved in the work that I, for the most part, forgot to take photos. The photo below will have to represent all of the students and staff who were working in that area.
The transformation in the space was remarkable.
Click on the photo gallery to enlarge the pictures.
The shrubs need more pruning but they look so much better; and they are no longer hanging over the sidewalk.
This was the last session for these service-learning students. They each have made a significant contribution to this site and they all seemed to enjoy their time here. I feel so grateful for their presence and their help.