Interns vs Invasives
so many ideas! so little time!
We have realized something important during this internship so far... the three of us, we are big thinkers. We are constantly ( I mean constantly) coming up with new creative- if not sometimes too creative- ideas on how to manage nonnative invasive species. Here is a spot where you can see some of our ideas and follow along with their progress.
AKA, the bane of our existence
Goutweed or "bishop's weed" is an overly abundant herbaceous plant that covers the forest floor in many sections of the Intervale and Ethan Allen Homestead. Goutweed outcompetes the native species of our vulnerable floodplain forest and threatens biodiversity. We are currently testing different methods (solarizing, compacting, edging, herbicide, natural competition, etc) for goutweed eradication and containment. This is our main project currently, seeing there is little research and methods that are well known for eradicating gout.
Goats vs Goutweed
As you may have heard goats... they love to eat. Everything & anything. Which sparked the idea for us that they might be a useful tool in managing invasive herbaceous species like goutweed. We have been working in partner with Pine Island Farms to arrange an almost "Rent-a-Goat" program where we are able to have goats come to invasive species sites and eat the plant to the ground. Experimenting with a rotational grazing system the goal is for goats to naturally exhaust the plants energy source and eventually eradicate it.
CSA and Cooking
Finding use in abundance
We are shocked to discover how many non native invasive plant species are edible, medicinal, nutritious, and, frankly, delicious in Burlington. Invasive plants are powerful: from knotweed being able to help cure lyme, goutweed being good for skincare, and garlic mustard simply being tasty. We have been lucky enough to partner with the Interval CSA which provides fresh local produce to food insecure members of Burlington, where we are able to table and talk to the community. Each week we are able to provide a new recipe and sample to the public where we can educate and encourage people to forage and cook invasive on their own! We are also able to spend time gleaning, experimenting with cooking, and learning lots about these interesting invasive.
Why do people misunderstand plants?
Once to twice a week, the three of us will volunteer with Hannah Baxter, the food recovery director of the Intervale, to glean for veggies to use at the CSA! Like many invasive species, many people have biases towards vegetables that are perfectly edible and nutritious but won't use them simply because they are shaped funky or are overabundant. In working on securing food security by encouraging foraging invasives, we are also helping by gleaning crops.
Invasive Paper making
Closing the loop
We have not yet started on this project, but are interested in exploring making paper out of the pulp of invasive plants, such as Japanese Knotweed. We have been connected with several paper making resources and contacts who specialize in this. The goal is to be able to turn this plant into something usable, maybe adding native wildflower seeds to create a plantable alternative. More to come on this.
Restorative Tree Planting
What comes after invasive species removal?
We have been working with the Intervale Conservation Nursery on restorative, regenerative plantings. Once invasive species are removed it is important to plant native species that will thrive and prevent new invasives from growing back. Each week we spend time learning about native tree propagation and hands on planting hundreds of young trees.
The community always pulls through.
Each Tuesday morning we work with a group of volunteers and Duncan, a land manager at the Intervale (and one of our awesome supervisors!) to physically tackle invasives. We do activities like pulling garlic mustard and Japanese knotweed and have actually fully pulled all of the known knotweed at the Intervale (predictably, but sadly, it is growing back)! We love working with the community and sharing a sense of accomplishment with amazing individuals (Shout out Ron, Stephanie, and Theo!) when removing a large plot of species.