Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Spring Events

Here's a heads-up on some of our spring events!

"Native Planting 101"

We’ve had a lot of interest in our “Native Planting 101” workshop this year; it’s been really great to see that so many people are excited about restoration and/or landscaping projects using native plants! 

 As a result, we are pleased to announce that we will be holding a second workshop in 2012:

“Native Planting 101” Workshop
Thursday, April 5, 2012
12:30pm - 5:00pm
Link Transit Conference Area
2700 Euclid Avenue, Wenatchee

For more details about the “Native Planting 101” workshop, see my January 6th blog post.

Earth Day Essay Contest

The 2012 Earth Day Essay Contest has launched!  The essay contest is open to students who live in or attend school in Chelan or Douglas counties and who are in grades 6-8.   

Last year we received some great essays and are thrilled to offer this opportunity again. Read 2011 contest winner Eva Aneshansley’s essay in our newsletter article.

This year, the essay question is:


“What have you learned from nature and why is what you’ve learned important?”

The winning essay will be published in the Wenatchee World, Cascadia Conservation District’s quarterly newsletter, and posted on our website and other social media outlets.

The top three essay writers will get to spend a day “in the field” with a wildlife biologist from the U.S. Forest Service conducting white-headed woodpecker surveys!

For more information and contest rules, please visit our website.

2012 Native Plant Sale

The orders have been placed, the plants will be on their way shortly, and fun volunteer events are just around the corner!

Come help with Cascadia Conservation District’s 2012 Native Plant Sale:

Plant Sale Preparation
Saturday, March 24, 9am-2pm

Plant Distribution
Saturday, March 31, 9am-1:30pm
Saturday, April 14, 9am-1:30pm

All activities will take place at the Stemilt Growers Warehouse in North Wenatchee.

Join us for an hour or day,
by yourself or with a friend.
We would love to have your assistance!

For more information on these events, please contact our office at (509)664-9370.

Thank you for reading!

Your Friend in Conservation,

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Composting and Recycling Old Barn Farm Style

The folks here at Cascadia believe in conservation not only as a means of making a living, but as a lifestyle.  This late winter and spring, some of the weekly blog posts will highlight how Cascadia staff "Walk the Talk." I'm interested to learn more about what kinds of conservation my co-workers are up to outside of the office!
 This week spotlights Amanda Levesque, our Education and Outreach Specialist, and some of the ways she practices conservation on her farm. So without further ado:

Photo by A. Levesque
The barn at Old Barn Farm

Composting and Recycling Old Barn Farm Style
by Amanda Levesque

We bought our 10-acre farm near Leavenworth in 2009. We loved the layout of the farm. Chumstick Creek cuts through the property and we have three acres in front and seven in back. In the front is our house, a pasture and our vegetable garden. In the back is our beautiful old barn that we instantly fell in love with when we first looked at the property, as well as where we keep our chickens, horses and alpacas.   
Photo by A. Levesque
3-year old blueberry bushes, already producing
 a lot of delicious fruit!

Also in back are our 500 blueberry bushes and numerous apple, pear, cherry and other fruit trees we inherited with the property. We plan to continue adding blueberry bushes each year as they sell like crazy! Since we put in the first 500 we have consistently had much more demand than supply. We also plan to continue selling eggs and would love to restore our barn to its former glory someday.

We always have a never-ending list of chores for the farm and it can sometimes be overwhelming, but we love projects, and at least we can never complain about being bored!
At Old Barn Farm we are into reusing and recycling whenever possible. We hate to see something potentially useful go to waste. Below are a few examples of how we reuse and recycle around our farm:

Photo by K. Levesque
Amanda and Julia pressing cider in Fall 2011.

Chickens: We save as many food scraps as we can to feed to our chickens and supplement their diet. It’s great for them to get other grains and greens in addition to their chicken scratch and they get so excited about their extra treats too!

Cider: In the fall we pressed our own cider. We ended up with a lot of apple mash left over. Rather than throwing it away we fed it to our horses, alpacas, and chickens. It was a great addition to their regular diet and such a delicious and nutritious treat!
Recycled Fertilizer: Along with our beautiful old barn we inherited half a dozen pigeons. They had made quite a mess in the upstairs of the barn over the years and it was definitely time for a clean-up. In Turkey, they actually cut holes in the cliff sides to attract pigeons then harvest their guano for fertilizer. We thought we’d give it a try too.

Photo by A. Levesque  
The vegetable garden: the lucky recipient
of some good compost!
Our barn, built in 1898, was the original dairy barn in our stretch of the Chumstick Valley. However, with all that great history came some less attractive inheritances, including six inches of cow manure covering the entire barn floor. Since we hate to see anything potentially useful go to waste we started shoveling and used this old manure as fertilizer. It actually worked great as it was totally dried out so there was no concern about it burning our plants.

Photo by J. Leach
These aren't actually Amanda's chickens, but they look very similar, and no
blog about a farm would be complete without a chicken photo!

“How do you reuse and recycle at your house? Have any composting tips? Share your stories and advice with us by clicking on the 'comments' link below!”

Thank you for reading!

Your Friends in Conservation,
Julia & Amanda

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A day of shrubs, trees, weeds, and bees: the "Native Planting 101" workshop

Last weekend, Cascadia hosted the "Native Planting 101" workshop.  The day was a whirlwind for me; one minute we were setting up tables and trying to make the projector remote work (a simple case of "did you plug in the right cable to the computer?") and the next thing I knew we were thanking participants for attending and packing up. Four hours full of great information just flew by!

The presentations were wonderful!  Ted Alway and Connie Mehmel provided a lot of great information about some of the many native plants that are excellent inclusions in restoration and/or yardscaping projects.  Amy Hendershot introduced many of us to some surprising facts about native bees- I had no idea that native bees are such tough little guys! On cold drizzly mornings, when non-native honeybees are tucked away in their hives, native bees are out there pollinating our orchards, gardens and native plants!  And Julie Sanderson, in an impressive hour-and-a-half on all things weeds, provided participants with valuable tools for controlling some pretty tough noxious and nuisance weeds.  For example, learning the life strategies of a targeted weed can help you choose a successful method of control.

Julie Sanderson speaks on the mechanical, biological,
 chemical, and cultural methods of weed control.

Participants came with a wide array of excellent questions for the experts (like what to do when the soil on your property is practically 100% clay), and shared stories of their own native planting and weed management experiences.  I wish we'd had just a little more time for participants to begin mapping out their planting projects, but I hope they feel confident that, with the information provided at the workshop and sent home with them in their workshop folders, they can successfully generate their project plans.

A big thank you to all who participated in this event!

Attentive listeners at the "Native Planting 101" workshop.

A note to workshop participants, or any who would like to delve into the wonderful world of native plants and natural ecosystems:  a list of further resources (those that didn't make it into the participant folders) are now available on Cascadia's website!

Due to the popularity of our workshop this year, we are pleased to be offering a second "Native Planting 101" workshop this spring!  Stay tuned for more information (on our website and this blog), coming very soon!  

Thank you for reading! 
Your Friend in Conservation,

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

It's Time to Think About Spring Planting: Making a Plan

The snow is melting, the days are getting longer, and with temperatures reaching almost to the fifties last week... it feels like spring!
Photo by J. Leach

I've been spending a significant amount of my AmeriCorps term immersed in the wonderful world of native plants, so I am really looking forward to the upcoming season of green and growing things!

As the last day for Cascadia's 2012 Native Plant Sale just around the corner (all plant sale orders are due February 15th), it's time to start planning for spring planting!  For months, I've been ogling over the beautiful natives offered in this year's plant sale, and imagining areas to incorporate them around my house.  Now it's time to get serious! 

For this week's blog, I've also asked my Cascadia co-workers about their native planting plans: 

Kate Koenig, Resource Specialist, has a lot of different areas around her Wenatchee home that she would like to plant (marked in bold), and therefore a variety of site conditions and challenges.

Kate has made a list of her goals and the conditions/challenges of her yard:

·         Attract pollinators near my veggie garden and fruit patch
·         Create a ‘green’ wall/hedge between neighbors to the west in back yard for visual barrier
[Plants that are:]
·         Low maintenance
·         Low water use
·         Beautiful!

Site conditions/challenges

·         Irrigation infrastructure exists (or can easily exist) in all planting areas
·         On city water for irrigation so would like to keep the usage as low as possible
·         Some VERY sunny areas
·         Some VERY shady areas
·         Some existing plants (not necessarily ones I would choose) – not sure if I should keep them or remove them to start from scratch

So far, Kate has chosen golden currant, mock orange, and evergreen huckleberry for her project, all good pollinator-attracting species.  She will also be including colorful native forbs in her yard, in order to create a continuous bloom, one of the key factors for good pollinator habitat.

Nada Wentz, our Office Assistant, shared the following about her yard: 
My yard, my yard, where to start?  My parents had a very traditional park-like yard with thick green lawn; roses, iris, snapdragons, peonies, cana lilies, tiger lilies, gladiolas, and coral bells gracing the flowerbeds; concord grapes, varying fruit trees, a huge shady English walnut tree, and berry plants mixed in the flowerbeds in the back yard.  It was beautiful!   

My parents loved to work in the yard!  Because of their poor health in later years the yard became overgrown and run down. Some of the fruit trees have died, the flower beds are overgrown with tall orchard grass, and our furry friends have a habit of digging holes in the back yard.  Weeds have taken over much of the grass.  I would dearly love to make it beautiful again.  Low maintenance native plants sound ideal!  Low moisture grass and plants are a must.  Blooming plants and edible vegetation would be a wonderful bonus.
I’m sure that many people can relate to Nada’s situation.  With challenges like unhealthy existing plants, encroaching grass and weeds, and a shortage of time, developing a planting project can be overwhelming!  Perhaps by breaking it down into simpler steps, and only targeting one smaller area at a time, Nada can begin to transform her yard back to its former glory.  Work parties with friends and family are a great way to get started too!

A few years ago, Amanda Levesque, Cascadia's Education and Outreach Specialist, became the proud owner of a 10-acre farm outside Leavenworth.  Her property spans both sides of Chumstick Creek, and she plans to restore the riparian zones along her portion of stream this year (Landowner Assistance Program??) in order to keep weeds under control. 

 Her main site condition and challenge:

"Weeds! All varieties and lots of them!"

Another challenge Amanda will need to address is the need to irrigate the newly-installed plants for the first growing seasons, until they are established. 

Amanda's choices of red-osier dogwood, serviceberry, black hawthorn, blue elderberry, and Woods rose for her planting project will mimic plant communities commonly found along streams in our region, will contribute to improved water quality and fish habitat in Chumstick Creek, and will create excellent habitat for birds and other wildlife.

Susan Dretke, also a Resource Specialist, mapped out her planting projects for the yard around her Cashmere home:

Susan’s overall goal is to install a decorative privacy “screen” of vegetation along a chain-link fence west of the house, as well as landscape next to a new patio area.  Her main site challenges:

·         Shady but dry area
·         West side of house gets hot afternoon sun, but is out of sight.
·         Watering
·         Limited space and exposure to highly trafficked alley behind house

On her map, she’s indicated many existing plants (native and ornamental) that she would like to keep, and also thought about the ways she uses her yard- “growing veggies/herbs, relaxing, dining, etc.”- and the spaces those activities require.  Susan would like to include shade-tolerant, xeriscape (i.e. drought-tolerant) plants, flowering shrubs (she already has an existing hedge of mock orange and a wild rose species), and ground cover that can withstand dog traffic- kinnikinnik perhaps?

I (Julia Leach, AmeriCorps Intern) am currently renting a house outside of Leavenworth, that- with a little cleaning up and pruning- has a lovely existing native “yardscape”.

The main challenge created by my yard is somewhat different: rattlesnakes.  The site immediately around our house is mostly sunny and dry, with areas of dense shrubs and large boulders- perfect snake habitat.  With our young, curious pup exploring his domain this summer, my main goal is to try to discourage the snakes from taking up residence near the house again this spring.

I plan on thinning out some of the existing native shrubs (especially the snowberry near the back door) and bringing in plants with a non-thicket- forming habit.  By keeping the lower canopy a little more open, I hope the snakes will go elsewhere to get out of the afternoon sun; if nothing else, we will at least be able to see them before we get too close!

Additionally, I plan on incorporating flowering shrubs, like golden currant and serviceberry, and forbs into currently grassy areas to attract more pollinators and other wildlife, and because our native flowers are fantastic!

 A little later this spring, I'll be checking back with these Cascadia contributors to see how their planting plans have changed, progressed, and/or turned out.  Stay tuned!

Visit our website for more information about Cascadia’s 2012 Native Plant Sale, and to download a plant brochure and order form.  Remember, the last day for orders is Wednesday, February 15th!

Do you have big (or not so big) plans for a native planting project this year?  Have you taken on a project in the past?  Was it a great success or total disaster?   Share your story by clicking the comments link at the bottom of this post

Thank you for reading!