Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Don't Be a Hater, Save the Pollinator!

ATC has just finished converting a large plot at the back of its Kellogg Conservation Center property into native pollinator habitat.  This project, funded through a USDA NRCS EQUIP grant as well as a contribution from the Lenox (MA) Garden Club, is one of the many ways that the Appalachian Trail Conservancy is actively engaging in land stewardship on this 98-acre property.  The area we chose is an old apple orchard that had been long abandoned.  Over the past few years during our volunteer workdays we have labored to clean out encroaching brush from around the trees, effectively releasing them.  As a result apple production has increased.  In order for apple trees to be pollinated, however, there must also be a healthy bee population (in addition to compatible species of apples.)  It is our hope that this 1-acre pollinator habitat will serve that purpose as well as generally providing plants that attract other native pollinators.  We plan to register the site as a Monarch Waystation as well.

As with many abandoned or marginal field edges, this site had a significant invasive plant infestation. The grant monies paid for a licensed herbicide applicator to treat the site twice this summer to kill unwanted vegetation.  We waited 6 weeks after the last application and then mowed down the dead stalks of what remained, raked the dead thatch out of the way to expose the soil, broadcast a pollinator mix from Ernst Seeds that is specific to the northeastern U.S., and then drove over the area thoroughly with a pickup truck to ensure good seed contact with the dirt.  With a little luck, this area will be a pollinator mecca next summer!

After the final herbicide treatment:

After mowing:

After raking:


Rolling to get good soil contact:

The finished product:

Out of curiosity, I did an internet search for pollinator slogans and here is what I came up with:

*Action is in order to stop colony collapse disorder

*Give Bees a Chance

* Let's agree to save the Bee

* Insecticides used on corn will make beekeepers mourn

And my favorite: "Don't Be A Hater, Save the Pollinator"

Monday, October 6, 2014

Berkshire Shepherd's Hut

I drove up to work this morning at the Kellogg Center and noticed a new addition to our grounds - a moveable sheepherder's shack!  Our neighbor, farmer J. Peter Maggio of Mayflower Farm, has been grazing sheep on the fields here and needed a way to occasionally keep watch o'er the flock by night.  This tastefully done structure allows him to spend some quality time with the critters while keeping predators at bay.  The shack, constructed of mostly locally sourced lumber, is on loan from Berkshire Shepherd Huts of Sheffield, MA and will be around for a week or two.