Many thanks to the crew of nineteen volunteers who came out to the farm on Saturday to help with the final push on our Native Hedgerow Project.
In two hours, the crew planted 300 native species in the hedgerow on the south and west outskirts of the Kids’ Farm. Saturday’s work party was the culmination of an enormous volunteer effort throughout the season at Oxbow. Since May, volunteers have invested over 150 hours in the Native Hedgerow Project, restoring 100 yards of hedgerow on the periphery the farm.
The Native Hedgerow Project is overseen by Oxbow’s Native Plant Nursery, a facility that grows native Washington species for research and restoration projects.
The farmers at Oxbow have been working on restoring native habitat since the farm’s founding in 1999, and it’s not just busy work. A healthy environment has tangible benefits for organic farmers. Native plants serve as forage for bees and other beneficial insects, and a healthy, diverse ecosystem functions as a habitat for all sorts of wild animals. Coyotes, foxes, bobcats and birds of prey all live and hunt in the forest around the farm, keeping rodent populations at bay and protecting the farm in the farmers’ absence.
The first stage of restoration work at Oxbow (and in many parts of the Pacific Northwest) almost always involves removing Himalayan blackberry bushes. Himalayan blackberry, though a nice snack, is an invasive species, meaning it came from somewhere else. Himalayan blackberry is a particularly effective reproducer and grows in thick brambles that discourage other flora and fauna. When blackberry is around, there’s unlikely to be much else.
Once blackberry is removed, sites are ready for plantings of native species–red osier dogwood, salmonberry, big leaf maple, and other Washington-approved trees and shrubs. Plants will be mulched and basically cared for to ease them into their new habitat, but eventually will be able to grow and flourish on their own.
The WHOLE Oxbow community–farmers, plants, and animals–is incredibly grateful to the volunteers who have lent us their time and enthusiasm over the course of the season. With your help, we are raising a healthy ecosystem.