2014 Week 4: Partnering with Land Trust, Channing Harris Visit, Urban Oasis, Kayaking, URI Tree Planting, and Barrel Priming
Week 4 began with the discovery of a non-native, Red Eared Slider Turtle near the basketball court in College Woods! Our Monday ritual of trash pickup brought us along the Mill River to that lovely spot midway between the Overlook and the Boat Launch. What a view!
The guys cleaned out the top couple of inches of soil below the water fountain outside the Ranger Station and hauled in fresh stone dust. Then they had the satisfaction of completing the “Trowbridge Stone Dust Pit” project on the other side of the building.
On Monday afternoon we were joined by Kate Lichti and the three Y@W students working this summer for the New Haven Land Trust: Chrystal and Chris Dickey and Eneida Martinez. FERP Y@W had already cleaned the steps coming down to Colonial Spring, so the project this day was to cut back the invasives in and around the area between where the bench is situated and the river. Our invasive enemy was Multiflora Rose which we attacked with loppers and hedge clippers! Afterwards we hauled mulch piled along Orange Street down the trail and used it to define the boundaries. It never ceases to amaze what a crew of hardworking folks can accomplish in a relatively short amount of time! Thanks to Kate and the Land Trust Y@W!
Tuesday was our day to return the work favor! We ventured over to the Constance Baker Motley Housing Facility on Sherman Parkway which is the site of one of the many gardens maintained by the New Haven Land Trust. Kate’s crew had already spent a day chopping down lots of overgrown weeds, but there was still a lot of work to do in this large, sadly neglected, garden. Kate divided up tasks with many of us concentrating on clearing invasives in the large bed between two entrances to the garden. This day our enemies were mostly Bittersweet and Mugwort! It was a very hot day, and it was tough working in full sun. We longed for the shade of East Rock Park!! Eventually, the area we cleared will be replanted. But being late July, we decided to lay in a heavy layer of mulch to prevent a reinvasion of weeds and to enrich the soil. In time the residents, many of whom require wheelchairs for mobility, will once again be gardening thanks to the efforts of our combined crews.
Longtime Land Trust advocate and FERP member Ann Schenck brought the crew watermelon and encouraged their efforts. Thank you, Ann!
On Tuesday afternoon Landscape Architect Channing Harris came to talk with us about how East Rock became a city park and how he enjoys viewing it as both “a piece of art and a piece of engineering.” He proceeded to tell us about how it was designed in the late 1800’s by Donald Grant Mitchell, a tremendously creative and philanthropic artist who donated and also designed Edgewood Park. What is now East Rock Park had once been privately owned land that included farm areas and a quarry! Wealthy industrialists recognized the importance of protecting this vital natural setting as a retreat from the growing urbanization of New Haven so they donated money and persuaded others to donate the funds needed to buy the land. Chief among these industrialists were the individuals after whom the main drives through the park are named: English, Farnham, Trowbridge, and Hillhouse. Channing brought along copies of lovely renderings of Mitchell’s original designs, one of which hangs on the wall of the Trowbridge Environmental Center, and he explained how Mitchell specifically designed the hardscape of the park “to work with nature.” How grateful are we who seek refuge and pleasure in the park today to these visionaries of yesterday! Thanks to Channing for sharing his knowledge with the guys, and for providing them with a historical perspective!
On Wednesday we were “on the road” again. Our destination was the Urban Oasis garden in East Shore Park to work alongside Ranger Dan. It is located adjacent to Hannah’s Playground. This massive butterfly garden was created only last year. Its edge with the grass needed to be redefined, and it had to be weeded and mulched. Once again, there was no shade to provide relief. It was HOT! Most of the guys had visited and played in East Shore Park on numerous occasions. I had never been before, and I was amazed at the size of yet another New Haven treasure and natural asset! Wow!
Working in the Urban Oasis garden was hot, but we knew cooler times were ahead! After we all devoured pizza in the Morris Cove area, we headed to meet our Land Trust friends to kayak for about an hour in the Sound off Lighthouse Point. Our guides were again Elizabeth from the Parks Department and her crew. This was a well-earned break from a couple of days working in the sun! Fun! Fun! Fun! Thanks again to Martin Torresquintero, Elizabeth, and her crew, and the Parks Department who generously waived our fees in recognition of our hard work and stewardship of City property this summer.
On Thursday it was back to work! James Stephenson, our intern from URI, brought a red oak to plant in a very prominent spot outside the Trowbridge Center. We were joined by FERP members Kevin McCarthy and David Budries. The guys were adept now at tree planting thanks to the experience gained in Edgewood Park during Week 2. This crew knows how to work!
There was just enough time left in the afternoon to get started on a creative project – painting four trash barrels for display and use in College Woods. Job #1 was to prime the plastic barrels so they would be ready to top-coat and then decorate during our upcoming and final week.
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