Celebrating Earth Day Around the Region

Master Gardener Erin Sterner helps first grader Eliza Franz and second grader Sankalpal Silwal replant pollinating plants at Crozet Elementary. Photos submitted.

Pollinating Plant Rescued from Bulldozer, Replanted in Crozet Elementary School

The construction crew at SD Crozet was about to put down the hard work over the years, but thanks to a cross-generational team, it wasn’t all in vain.

For about a year, Master Gardeners Piedmont has been working with sophomore teacher Barbara Huneycutt and several sophomore students helping to rescue plants from a garden that is scheduled to be removed in early June. It took several years to build the front beds at the school, so when gardeners, assisted by school parents and the APO service fraternity, showed up to replant, they found no less than 280 plants to plant in the new pollinator beds at the back of the school.

At the end of the day, everyone is tired, but all the plants are on the ground, mulched and watered.

Herbal knowledge Taking Community

A happy crowd follows herbalist and bestselling author Kat Maier on a journey from Stone Soup Books Waynesboro to South River. The walk follows a brief meeting at the bookstore to introduce Maier, whose book Energetic Herbalism has sold out its first print. The walks were for Maier to show his friends what plants they might find along the riverbank near the city’s eastern limits.

They don’t have to go far. Despite the cold and windy spring, Maier immediately noticed some lush burdock leaves, along with a generous sprinkling of dandelions under the apple tree.

Kathleen Maier of the Sacred Plant Tradition leads the herbal journey from the Waynesboro Stone Soup Book to the South River. Photo: Curry Theresa.

Dandelions are important, he says, so important that people heading to the new world import them. “The invaders were surprised,” he said, “when they didn’t find them here.” They are used to having dandelions (they have been around for about three million years) and they depend on dandelions for medicine, food, and wine. The common plant is a good source of many minerals, acts as a diuretic (“Don’t eat it at night,” he warns) and its flowers can be fermented into wine, one of the few anesthetics available in the 16th century.

A few steps away are some giant burdock plants, which were also valued by our ancestors. Its large, flat leaves function as a poultice because it is thought to supply blood to parts of the body that need healing. They also serve as external bandages, useful for keeping ointments or other topical ointments on the skin. And those pesky thorns that plague dogs and humans? They piqued the curiosity of a Swiss engineer, who used them as inspiration for creating Velcro.

Burdock root, as well as dandelion root and many other plants, is a cleansing, soothing and healing agent for various liver ailments. Maier has a few caveats for his audience: “Don’t just pick something at random,” he says. “Some wild plants can be very poisonous.” He recommends identifying each plant with extreme care, especially if it is a member of the fungus family, some of which can be fatal.

Burdock and dandelion have ancient medical uses and are found everywhere. Photo: Curry Theresa.

Before Google, the Internet, even before books, herbal knowledge really did tell the story, he says. Joyce Colemon, who was born in Crozet and is one of 12 children, agrees, “My mom really knows what to do. He uses dandelions, sassafras, blackberries, blueberries and all kinds of vegetables, and we rarely go to the doctor.”

“That’s what I meant,” Maier said. “Knowledge like this is preserved by your family, your parents, your community.”

Kathleen Maier is the founder and owner of the Sacred Plant Tradition in Charlottesville, a center for herbal studies. the book, Energetic Herbalismavailable at Stone Soup Books, on its website, sacredplanttraditions.com, and from booksellers near you.

Bat Find Friends, Home, a garden

On Earth Day, a small group of students and primary gardeners head to Charlottesville’s “New Roots” park to dig up a plot of land, replacing hardy packs and weeds with wild columbine, Virginia mountain mint, false sunflowers and other real, simple plants that moths seek. . The final beneficiaries are not the moths but ultimately the bats that will swoop in and eat them, while also ingesting many of the local mosquitoes.

Albert Connette installs a bat box in the plot planned by Marja Barrett, far right. Max Leonard, center, along with several other WAHS students, helping to plant a bat garden. Photos submitted.

The project was the brainchild of Marja Barrett, a senior at Albemarle West High School who has spent the last few years immersed in environmental studies. Barrett attended the Academy of Environmental Sciences; was a member of James River’s Leadership Expeditions (a group dedicated to the future of James River) and founded, with fellow student Amanda Bilchick, the high school Ward Warriors group. Barrett was looking for a capstone project to reflect his interest in nature and sustainability and decided to bat.

The more he learned, the more he wanted to do something to protect the sluggish population of bats. “I discovered how valuable they were for mosquito control and pollination,” he said. “I also learned that some species are endangered.”

Marja Barrett designed a sign for her bat garden so that other gardeners wouldn’t hurt the bats. Sent.

He wanted to stop the direct scientific study of bats, so sought out expert gardener Fern Campbell, and together they designed the garden. Also on board was Albert Connette, who built a bat house and installed it on site, so the bats could take shelter near their food source.

It was a long day of digging and planting, said Barrett, and he wanted to thank everyone who helped, and especially Campbell. “I also got help from other students,” he said. Those who accompanied him throughout the morning and evening were Max Leonard, Ellie Boitnott, Matthew Burch, Zachary Moreno, and Amanda Bilchick.

Great Day on the River

After a two-year hiatus, the Waynesboro Riverfest was finally held, continuing its mission to promote environmental conservation and watershed management.

On Saturday, April 30, an enthusiastic crowd gathered in Constitution Park, enjoyed events on and off the South River in downtown Waynesboro and learned about the importance of environmental sustainability from some of the longtime residents of the Virginia Wildlife Center. Helping the Center’s mammals and birds are some of the inhabitants of Reptile World, and several humans in the form of Mad Scientist and representatives from the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources.

Riverfest Waynesboro, returning after two years of the pandemic shutdown, includes several expeditions to the South River. Photo: Amanda Nicholson.Earth

Riverfest was a huge success, said Amanda Nicholson, president of the Riverfest Board of Directors. “Overall, it was a great day.” He said the Monarch Butterfly was the totem for this year’s festival, and several winners of the butterfly poster contest were awarded.

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