If you're new to our site, I'd love to share with you the Biodiversity conservation work we do. Every year and sometimes twice yearly, we work with a foundation to install 1/2-1 acre biodiversity plantings on land based non profits. The Plantings are intended to increase native biodiversity of plants and wildlife. By planting a highly diverse group of native trees, shrubs and wildflowers and other ground cover species, all chosen for their ecosystem services, like providing forage and nesting sites for migratory and native birds or providing nectar and host plants for pollinators. We believe the plantings help to jump start local numbers of these important but increasingly rare native plants, as seeds are dispersed from the rows and increase exponentially the numbers of pollinators and birds. Making these plantings ecological hot spots!
We recently completed our 5th large scale Biodiversity Planting, this one was sited in scenic Barnet, Vermont at Karme Choling Mediation Retreat Center. Over two years ago we were introduced to Karme Choling by a friend and former farm hand, Max, we then sited the project and eventually did an initial tilling setting the ground for what would become the biodiversity planting. This Spring we started over 30 kinds of native wildflower and grass seeds and ordered hundreds of native trees and shrubs. Three weeks ago my husband Sky and I, set off for Vermont in high spirits and laden with supplies. Sky driving our truck with our Kubota Tractor and tiller in tow on a 30 ft. trailer. I was behind the wheel of our Box truck packed to the gills with plants and trees, soil, mulch, wheelbarrows, irrigation you name it!! It took our entourage about 7 1/2 hours to get to Barnet from Honesdale.
Surrounded by lush green mountains, The Planting is situated in a valley down the hill from the retreat center garden. A beautiful creek winds through the valley. It was so picturesque.
We got to work tilling up the loamy soil, digging holes and flagging out where the plants would go.
We ran irrigation down the hill from the garden so that they could water should a drought occur.
Then we started the planting, we planted about 50 native trees and over 100 shrubs. We then started planting out the 24 species of wildflowers and native grasses along the outside and in between the trees and shrubs. We then mulch around the plants with rice hulls and install tree protection. It's tough sweaty work in the humid Vermont summer heat and we took advantage of the near by creek for a quick dip after a long day of work. With the help of a few great volunteers from the Karme Choling community, we were able to complete the 1/2 acre planting in 5 days.
Photos by Joseph Pascutazz
We left feeling so grateful for the opportunity to do this planting at this special place so infused with the spirit of peace and mindfulness. We also felt lucky to get to meet and work with some of the wonderful people at Karme Choling, we especially enjoyed the beautiful veggie and flower garden and the delicious lunches. We also loved visiting local farm stands like Joe's Brook farm and getting coffee and croissants in Bentley's Bakery Danville. Had dinner with a friend at Positive Pie. I also got to visit Montpelier and while picking up a big tote of Vermont Compost for the planting. We also paid a visit to our good friends at Cattis Labs VT in Hardwick to pick up our Hemp extracts! New flavor coming soon....
Unfortunately, as many people following the news may have heard, parts of Vermont have experienced extreme rain and flooding over the past few days. It's being called the worst flood in over 100 years. Many of the places in the region we visited are experiencing the impacts of the flooding even now. Our Biodiversity planting was completely washed out in the storm by the overflowing creek. We are heart broken and frankly depressed to see our hard work and investment almost totally erased. More than that, our hearts go out to thousands of people impacted by this catastrophic flood, grief at the loss of life and property, and shattered dreams. Many of the farms are situated on beautiful river bottom fields, where the soil is rich and easy to cultivate, but as we learned, there is risk in working the land in these fertile valleys, many of the farms in the region were flooded and lost crops. We were assured that this was extremely rare occurrence when we first sited the project but I guess in this changing climate we will have to plan better in the future. We're not sure at this time how to proceed with the planting. But we'll be working with Karme Choling to come up with a plan for salvaging what can be and possibly another planting in the future, somewhere a little higher up the hill.
To find out you can help check out the Vermont Community Foundation
You can also make a donation to Karme Choling to help support their mission and our work there.
Vermont is a special place for those who call it home and the many people like us who love to visit. Let's help them recover from this epic disaster.