This week was full of field trips for the crew! After spending two weeks really getting to know East Rock, we spent 4 out of 5 days working off-site, exploring our community. We met a lot of great people and did a lot of great work. We also learned that we were not the only ones spending their summer spreading mulch and pulling weeds. Solidarity!
Monday, July 18th
This was the only day the crew did spend entirely at the park–and it was ANOTHER hot and humid day.
We started off by weeding the area in front of the ranger station, and women’s bathroom entrance.
It was hard working in the sun, but we were eventually able to clear most of the weeds that had grown through the gravel.
The crew then moved on to sprucing up the park benches in College Woods. We were noticing that weeds were beginning to surround some of the benches.
As a team, the crew went from bench to bench, weeded and then spread gravel around the bench to prevent the weeds from growing back.
Hard work! But the benches looked good as new by the end of the day.
Tuesday, July 19th
Tuesday was our first day off-site, and we were lucky enough to spend it with the New Haven Land Trust working at one of their community gardens sites.
The staff welcomed us and explained all the projects they had in mind for us!
Of course the crew got right to work on the hardest job of the day: digging 32 inch holes!
(Got to get it out of the way!)
These holes will eventually be filled by a fence that the NHLT Youth@Work crew is building over their summer program. It was great to meet, and be able to lend a hand to another crew.
That morning we learned just how deep 32 inches was.
The next project was helping to rebuild old raised beds that needed to be replaced. Rocco and Carlos help pull out the rotten wood, and then applied their carpentry skills to construct the new bed around the existing garden!
Good as new.
Next, the newly-constructed compost bins needed a few final additions before it was ready for use.
The crew measured and marked up the composite wood, lined it up, and drilled in the top layer of boards.
The final project of the day was staining the picnic bench that we had been enjoying our water breaks and lunches on throughout the day.
We had a great day working with the garden crew at NHLT. A big thanks to Justin Elicker and Emily Sloss for leading us through these projects!
Wednesday, July 20th
On Wednesday, we spent the day with Ranger Dan at the Urban Oasis at East Shore park.
There is a beautiful butterfly garden that needed a little bit of weeding and mulch!
The garden was full of flowers and buzzing pollinators! We we even able to spot a hummingbird!
We got to work removing any grass, ragweed, or mugwort we saw in the garden.
We we really careful not to disturb all the beautiful milkweed in the garden.
The milkweed is vital habitat for caterpillars that grow into Monarch butterflies.
By the end of the day, the Urban Oasis was looking pretty great!
Despite the hot, dry days the flowers are still blooming and beautiful. We highly recommend checking it out.
Thursday, July 21st
Thursday morning was spent at the GORGEOUS Pardee Rose Gardens.
We joined Matthew Nash and the weekly volunteer work party at the gardens. The work parties take place every Thursday from 9:30-12pm and are great to be a part of!
We worked along-side members of the community who were working towards their master gardener certifications. We learned a lot about tending flowers!
We spent our time weeding out rose beds that lined the front fence of the garden. The staff were very grateful to have our help!
We had a great time working at the garden, and will even be returning next week to help out some more!
In the afternoon, we returned to the park and spent the afternoon weeding and remulching some of the younger trees in College Woods.
Friday, July 22nd
On Friday, we traveled to Edgewood park to plant a tree with the Friends of Edgewood Park Youth@Work crew, along with the Urban Resources Initiative!
We were planting 3 Tupelo (or Black Gum) trees near the stream within the park. Associate director of URI, Chris Ozyck, explained to us that there were a few Ash trees in the area we were planting. Unfortunately, these trees were, or would soon be, affected by the Emerald Ash Borer. The Ash Borer is a beetle native to eastern Asia that feeds on ash species, and has killed many ash trees in North America.
Knowing this, the URI team wanted to get a head start on replanting trees that would be similar to the Ash tree in these spots.
So, we split into 3 groups, and began the process of planting a tree!
It was hard work, but by the end we had planted 3 trees that the community will enjoy, and benefit from for many years to come.
This was a really great experience, and we really thank the URI summer intern team for spending this VERY warm summer morning with us!
We returned to the park for lunch (and ice cream provided by Ranger Dan!!) and one more quick project to end our week.
We spread mulch on the outside of the playground fence. This area could be used as a garden bed in the future!
Another great week in the books! We can’t believe there are only 2 more week left…!
This week the crew did a lot of hard work, in a lot of HOT and HUMID weather. Take a look!
Monday, July 11th
We started the week off by returning to the knotweed site we cleared in week 1. To slow the growth of more knotweed, we mulched the area we had pulled.
Hopefully this area will stay clear, and it will be ready for all the beautiful flowers that will be planted there in the fall!
After finishing up there, we moved on to tackle more knotweed…
Everything looks better with a fresh layer of mulch!
Tuesday, July 12th
On Tuesday, the crew had the awesome opportunity to work with Friends of East Rock member, David Budries. He invited us to his beautiful back yard, and showed how to make swallow boxes!
David was nice enough to cut all of our pieces before we got there, so we just had to measure, and mark up our wood.
We definitely learned the importance of ‘measure twice, cut once’
This was the first time woodworking for some on our team, and some have had experience before, but everyone learned something new.
These swallow boxes will be installed by the Y@W crew this summer around Rice Field.
They put their initials on their box, so they could tell which one was theirs when they walk by it in the future!
Thank you so much David! We had a great time!
After our bird houses were built, we headed back to the park to continue our work.
We had some more mulching to do behind the Ranger station. We lined the drain against the wall with stone dust to protect the building, and filled in the rest with mulch.
Wedneaday, July 13th
Canoeing down the Mill River!!
A big THANK YOU to the New Haven Parks and Rec department for setting us up for canoeing with the Friends of Edgewood Park Y@W crew.
It was great to meet another group of kids doing a lot of the same great (and hard) work we have been doing.
Canoeing was a great way to spend the morning, but then it was back to work!
There has been a tree on the White trail that’s roots have been becoming more and move uncovered, creating a tripping hazard for hikers and runners.
Along with help from David Shimchick, the Y@W crew filled wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow with crushed stone in order to level it all out!
This was a tough job! Believe me when I say, those rocks we not light!
But after a lot of teamwork, and water breaks, we finished the job!
Now the trail is safe for all!
Thursday, July 14th
We started this day at the ERP outlook. It is a beautiful spot to sit and observe nature, but it was a little over grown.
The trails leading down to the river was covered with leaves and debris.
And there were many leaves and weeds that needed to be cleared by the outlook.
So we got to work!
We put down a new layer of mulch, as well as a new layer of crushed stone under the benches.
We raked and swept both trails, and cut back any branched that were hanging into the walking paths.
To finish out the morning, we used stone dust to fill in holes that appear in the park paths when rain water erodes them.
In the afternoon, we had an awesome opportunity to meet with the city of New Haven’s landscape architect Dave Moser! He met us in the ranger station after lunch, and share with us his journey from graduating high school, to finally arriving at the career he has now! For the 2 in-coming seniors on our team, this was helpful information. They will be applying to school and making these decisions for themselves soon. It is always helpful to hear successful people tell you that it is a tricky time for everyone!
He also shared with us all the projects he had worked on in East Rock Park, we were amazed to see how many different projects he did! Now every time we walk through the College Woods entrance, we remember that someone planned that out very meticulously, and that we met the guy who did it! We would like to thank Dave again for taking time to talk with us!
Friday, July 15th
Friday was the HOTTEST day of the program so far. 92 degrees and humid! We finished moving some gravel on the White trail and did a trash sweep of College Woods, but then we retreated to air conditioning!
We went to the British Art Museum!
We used the information Dave Moser had shared with us on Thursday about all the different aspects of designing a greenspace, and we observed some planned landscapes we saw in the gallery.
We spent time looking at each planned landscape, and took notes about what we noticed they each included. We were going to use this information to plan out our own greenspace, so we made sure to noticed the parts of the landscape we wanted to include in our own.
Things we noticed:
Water features, fishing access, surrounded by nature, animals, formal gardens and hedging, tree lines, and many of the planned landscapes we saw were surrounded by high walls.
We headed back to the park for lunch, and then we began our designs.
It was really cool to see the different plans we each came up with.
Kay’s design was really focused on nature, and having a place to people to feel like they were totally surrounded by nature. She also included a really large ranger station, so visitors had a place to learn about the greenspace.
Carlos’s design was very inspire by some of the formal English gardens we saw at the gallery. He included hedges surrounding a large water fountain and a large ranger station as well, but this had the design on a large castle!
Rocco’s design was very much a city park like East Rock. Dog park, community gardens and plenty of trees!
My design was pretty similar to Rocco’s. I wanted a community garden, play structures, an urban oasis, and…a swimming hole! Great for a day like Friday.
And then we ended the day in the only way you can on a hot summer Friday afternoon…with ICE CREAM!
See you next week!
Welcome to the Youth@Work 2016 Blog!
We are really excited to have a great group of kids working with us this summer, to keep East Rock Park beautiful! Remember to check the blog periodically to see all the different projects we will be tackling this year.
Week one was hot, humid, and lots of fun! Despite the heat (and the bugs) the team got right to work on different parts of the park that needed a little care.
Tuesday, July 5th
After the holiday weekend, the crew started the workday with a HUGE trash sweep of College Woods.
There was a lot to pick up. Full grills, charcoal and lots of paper plates, plastic cutlery, and cans and bottles were picked up.
It is so important to try your best to leave no trace when picnicking in the park. It makes more enjoyable for people, plants, and animals who rely on the park.
The crew was able to get College Woods back to the way it looks best: free of trash.
The crew then moved on to sprucing up the playground at College Woods.
Raking fallen leaves, sweeping sand and pulling weeds got the playground looking great!
The little kids at the park loved watching the big kids taking care of their park.
After a morning full of hard work, we took the afternoon to explore the park, and to get to know each other. We decided to hike to Whitney falls!
Half of the team had never been there before, and it was great to see all the beauty the park has to offer.
We ended our first day very tired, but feeling good about what we had already accomplished.
Wednesday, July 6th
On day 2, we started off with some stretching and yoga led by East Rock community member and yoga instructor Ashley Emerson! She was nice enough to join us at 8 in the morning, and teach us the best ways to stretch our muscles to make sure we don’t injure ourselves doing the heavy lifting and hard work that comes along with the program.
After learning some great techniques, we make sure to stretch before work in the morning, and in the afternoon before heading home.
Then he gave us a pair of binoculars, and we went out into the park to see if we could find any ourselves!
The Bird feeder Ranger Dan puts out every morning is a great place to spot some beautiful birds. We saw blue jays, cardinals, red-winged black birds, and cowbirds hanging out there. Lots of squirrels too!
We also learned that looking into the other end of binoculars would allow us to look at things as if through a magnifying glass. We looked at flowers, slugs, mushrooms, and daddy long-legs up close!
We learned a lot, and saw a lot on our bird talk with Ranger Dan. We were able to spot a peregrine falcon nest, cat birds, more cardinals and blue jays, MANY robins, downy woodpeckers and hairy woodpeckers, and a red tail hawk up close!! (I was too mesmerized to take pictures!)
Then, after lunch, the crew had to move on to a less enjoyable task…
removing Japanese knotweed!!
Knotweed is one of the most prevalent invasive species in the park, and also one of the hardest to eradicate. As a study done by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources states, “As much as two thirds of the mature plant’s biomass is stored underground in its extensive systems of thick rhizomes… In addition, fragments of both stem and root material can sprout, giving rise to new plants or entire colonies. While fragments near the soil’s surface are most likely to sprout, sprouting has been demonstrated from fragments up to 1 m (39 in) deep. Because of this, it presents an enormous threat along rivers, streams and floodplains, where plant parts may be washed downstream by flood waters. It can also be spread inadvertently during construction and road maintenance, by mowing crews and in fill dirt.” (Source: https://www.michigan.gov/documents/dnr/knotweed_BCP_372280_7.pdf )
Having said all that…its pretty nasty.
This ended up being a two-day project for us, but we gave ourselves a pretty good start this afternoon.
Thursday, July 7th
To start the morning, we headed back to the corner of Orange Street and Farnam Drive to finish off the knotweed!
We removed 10 bags in total. It was a lot of work on such a hot day, but these kids work hard.
All the knotweed needs to be bagged up and thrown away– or else it could re-root and start growing again where every we leave it. Like I said, nasty stuff.
Next Monday we will head back to this site and cover the area with mulch. This will help to prevent the knotweed from re-growing too quickly.
After this big effort, we did a ‘sit spot’ activity in which each crew member found a spot by themselves along one of the trails throughout the park. They sat there for 25-30 minutes quietly observing the nature around them. I asked them to take notes on the things they noticed that stood out to them, and after the about a half an hour, we all came back together to share what we had seen.
Some of the crew were sitting by the Mill river, and noticed frogs, fish, birds (blue jays and great egrets!), and unfortunately trash floating down the river. One of the crew members even tried out the bird calls that Ranger Dan had taught us on Wednesday.
Other members sitting away from the water on the trail noticed an increase in people passing by them, and chipmunks!
We had a great conversation about what we noticed and how our sit spots were different. This is definitely an activity we will do again.
In the afternoon, the crew did a great job clearing the Black trail from the entrance at East Rock Road all the way to the Whitney Gate.
There were many fallen leaves on the trail from the past year, but we were able to rake it out, and get it back to looking great.
This will make it safer for runners and more enjoyable for hikers throughout the park.
The crew was happy, but VERY tired when we finished up. This was the hottest, and most humid day all week!
On Friday, we were lucky enough to have Ranger Dan give us another talk on the invasive species in the park. This will be really helpful information for the crew throughout the rest of the program. We will be pulling out many of these species!
As we walked through the trails, Ranger Dan pointed out and described some of the most invasive, non-native species in the park. Some of the most prevalent were: Norway maple, bittersweet, knotweed (but we already knew that), garlic mustard, winged euonymus, multiflora rose, and barberry.
After the invasives talk, Ranger Dan needed our help removing a large tree that had recently fallen across the white trail.
The crew was really interested in watching Ranger Dan chainsaw the tree. It was a difficult job, but we learned a lot watching him make different cuts.
Periodically, we would remove debris so he could have a clear path to the tree.
Eventually, we had to move the large logs he had cut down so they wouldn’t block the path. They were HEAVY so we worked as a team to carefully roll them off to the side.
Now hikers have a clear path to reach the trail to the summit!
When we finished up we headed back to the Rangers station where David Shimchick and David Budries joined us for a pizza lunch, which was delicious! We chatted about the work we had done so far, and how the crew members felt after the first week of the program. Some people thought the program was what they were expecting before starting, but others were surprised to see the kind of work we will be doing. Everyone agreed that we hope for better weather next week!
After plenty of pizza and soda, we headed back out to accomplish a few more things before the end of the week. We focused on raking the picnic a and weeding and re-mulching the garden next to the playground.
We were happy with the work we had done, and agreed that it really made the area look nice.
AND THEN WE FOUND THE BIGGEST BEETLE EVER!
We carefully moved it to a safe spot, and wrapped up a great first week of work!
See you next week!