Dear New Canaan Land Trust supporters: This marks the halfway point for our second session of Summer Stewards. During our second week together, Matt, Alex & Beni helped me with a lot of varied projects on several properties.
Our week began on Monday at the Firefly Sanctuary, meeting up with Firefly enthusiast and friend of the Land Trust Bill McDonald. Bill talked to the interns and two individuals from the Wilton Land Trust about several invasive plants in the area – purple loosestrife, porcelain berry, and mugwort – and showed us all effective ways to remove them. He also generously gave us a tour of his property that abuts the Firefly Sanctuary. The interns got to see how he manages his property for fireflies and other pollinators/insects. He even let us take home some peaches from one of his fruit trees.
After our time with Bill, we cleaned out and touched up the waterbars on the Firefly trail. While we were doing that, we came across another cache of ancient broken bottles – probably close to 30lbs. It seems as though the area was a dumping site at one point. An important reminder to the interns how waste production threatens natural areas and resources.
We started Tuesday off at Hicks Meadow, where we moved a tremendous amount of brush from juniper trees we had limbed up (to prevent vine encroachment). We also freed some more trees from the vegetation slowly over taking them. Our Summer Steward Matt in particular really enjoys working to free the trees!
After spending the first half of the day in the meadow, we moved over to Fowler. We spent the majority of the afternoon moving lumber for our new boardwalks between Fowler and Kelly Uplands. With only four of us, moving the boards was hard work. We are all looking forward to assembling the boardwalks early next week, though!
Our field trip day found us back at the beautiful Millstone Farm in Wilton. Farmer Drew generously donated his time again to us and gave the interns a tour of the farm and spoke about the importance of maintaining working lands in our highly developed community. He even let us help with a fencing project to move the sheep and llamas from one pasture to another! All the interns greatly enjoyed seeing/interacting with the animals and remarked on how well they were being treated, with outdoor space, fresh air, good food, and lots of room to move around. Several comments were made on Millstone’s cool systems, too, like an automatic door for the chicken coop and a dryer agitator being used to spin salad greens dry.
After our time was over at the farm, we headed back to the office for a presentation on composting and organics recycling by the owner of Curbside Compost, Nick Skeadas. Nick shocked us all by reporting that Connecticut generates about 500,000 tons of food waste a year, and that almost all of that gets incinerated and then the incineration ash then has to get landfilled. Nick helped the interns to understand that food waste recycling (compost) is a completely solveable problem. Food scraps are the largest single item in our trash stream and one that could easily be recovered and turned into a valuable soil amendment. Composting directly helps preserve open space in our state by reducing our overall waste production and, therefore, our need for landfill real estate. The interns learned about different ways to compost at home and where food scraps can be dropped off at the transfer station.
I took the interns to a new property on Thursday – Livingston Higley Preserve. Our main project for the morning was pruning back thorny vines that were encroaching onto the trail and clearing off all vegetation from the stone wall in the meadow. I think the interns did a great job!
After our time there, we went to another new property, the New Canaan Nature Center Greenlink Trail. We got to know the property and again pruned back thorny vines growing into the trail. Nobody likes to be snagged by a vine when you’re out for a walk! We finished the day by reading an article about farming in Connecticut. The interns learned some challenges facing agriculture in our state, like the high price of land, destruction of agricultural land by housing development, lack of contiguous land, and other barriers to entry for young/new farmers.
Friday was a hot one but we managed to get some small jobs accomplished. We also did a tour of Greenlink trails. We started back the NCNC Greenlink, where we lined the trail. Then we moved onto the Fieldcrest Autumn lane Greenlink where we did some trail pruning and lining in advance of kids walking to path to go back to school soon. Then we went to check out the Oenoke lane trail, where we ended up finding another ancient dump site and pulled out another 30lbs of very, very old bottles, china, and metal objects. We wrapped up the day at the office during the peak heat by doing our weekly thank you notes and perfomance check-ins.
Certainly a great week overall. I have been enjoying getting to know these new interns and I am excited to see what we accomplish during our last two weeks together. Catch us on the trail sometime and say “Hi”!