Last Saturday (April 7, 2012), our intrepid Stewardship staff held a volunteer workday on a piece of property SAHC owns in the Sandy Mush area of Buncombe County. The property is over 100 acres in size and almost entirely forested, with portions of lush, rich cove forest. Americorps Stewardship Associate Margot Wallston chronicled the experiences of the day:
The month of April revealed a forest floor covered in a rich diversity of wild flowers. Unfortunately, the richness of the soil on the property also makes it susceptible to invasion by non-native, invasive species.
Garlic mustard, multiflora rose, and oriental bittersweet are creeping in at an alarming rate — in fact, lately it seems like every week we observe a higher percentage of invasives. That being said, this property is in a lot better shape than many other properties in the Sandy Mush Valley (an area infamous for its invasive species). That’s why we chose it as a target for volunteer help. It still has a fighting chance at serving as a preserve for biodiversity, especially if we invest time and energy into managing the invasives problem now.
So Saturday, in honor of North Carolina’s 2nd Invasive Species Awareness Week, we managed to wrangle up four generous and noble volunteers to join us in our effort to remove garlic mustard and multiflora rose from areas we previously scouted out.
Luckily, pulling garlic mustard turns out to be an enjoyable (and even addictive) task. It’s kind of like eating Lay’s potato chips — you can’t pull just one without wanting to do it again… and again! Right now garlic mustard is easy to identify and pull out of the soil without too much back-breaking labor. And, to make the effort more enjoyable, we were shaded by the leaves newly emerging from the trees above and surrounded by beautiful wildflowers all around us.
In one day we saw two different trilliums and violets, chickweed, larkspur, Solomon’s seal, two different toothworts, Dutchman’s britches, blue cohosh, and my current personal favorite: miterwort, all in flower.
After four hours of solid work time spent clearing approximately 2 acres of invasives, we celebrated our accomplishments and the beauty of the biodiversity we are aiming to protect by cooking up a veritable feast of greens we had collected on site.
Everyone seemed to enjoy eating the garlic mustard (enhanced with ramps!) just as much as pulling it! At the end of the day, loathe to leave, we hauled the heavy bags holding our hard work back down the mile-long road to our vehicles. Everyone said they enjoyed the day; and while I can’t speak for the others, I know I was already scheming and dreaming about recipes for garlic mustard hummus and thoughts of returning to continue where we left off…