Fund Development Director Heather Barth cuts the silvery branches of Autumn Olive on a staff workday. Don’t let her fool you, this is tough work. 

Are you looking for a rewarding service project on the land? ACRES is putting out a new call for help. Last year, volunteers started the process of completely removing Autumn Olive from the Tom and Jane Dustin Nature Preserve. It was a bold goal, and the work continues. With many hands, we can beat this plant, helping natives and new trees grow. With a little training, you can set your own hours, making use of the office facilities for breaks as you need.

Your sweat equity and support will help reforest this place, leaving a legacy for years to come. Will you engage to protect the land?

What is Autumn Olive?

· A non-native, invasive deciduous shrub that can grow as tall as 20 feet.
· It was once planted by nature-lovers to control erosion and provide wildlife habitat.
· It out-competes and displaces native plants by creating dense shade that hinders the growth of plants that need lots of sun.
· The bright silvery under-leaf is the easiest identifier of Autumn Olive.

How can you help?

1. Contact the ACRES Office for training. You’ll need to spend about a half-hour on the land with a staff member, identifying the Autumn Olive, walking the site, locating tool storage and asking questions. You can reach ACRES at 260-637-2273 or [email protected]. Anyone in the office can help train you. You’ll set a training time convenient to you, Monday – Friday, 9-4, or as needed if staff are available.

2. You’ll need to have a volunteer application and waiver on file. Staff will help you with this during your training.

3. ACRES will provide tools during office hours. You are also welcome to bring your own loppers, chain saw, gloves, water and bug repellent.

4.Once you’re trained, you’re free to tackle the project at your convenience. You’re welcome to arrange work parties with friends, too, in coordination with the office. The preserve is open dawn to dusk, daily, though you may find it easier to work during office hours. In the fall, ACRES will host a workday event, where you’ll meet other project volunteers and celebrate your efforts. Date and time to be determined.

5. ACRES Land Management specialists will treat the stumps and re-sprouts once or twice a year, preventing new growth.

The rewards & benefits? For you and for the land?

1. Autumn Olive is literally taking over places in this preserve. Removing it will allow smaller trees and plants to thrive.

2. Removing invasives by hand allows for succession of trees as we can carefully work around this new growth. We could remove it by machine or spray it; however, both methods would remove native plants along with the Autumn Olive.

3. If we hired a contractor to remove the autumn olive, it would cost $30,000 over the next 3 years. Your work will save resources – and, because you’re cutting by hand, you’ll protect new plant growth.

It’s also important that people actively engage in protecting places. Folks who work the land are invested in unique ways. Volunteers tell us that the return on this investment is far more than expected. ACRES hopes that you’ll find that through your labor, your connection to this place grows. In the next five, ten, thirty years, as the front field successfully reforests, you’ll know you lent a hand in returning this forever-protected land to its natural state.

4. The results will be obvious and easy to see. As you cut and move forward, turnaround and you can see the progress you are making.

5. You can work alone or in a group, any time from dawn to dusk, anytime of the year.

Thank you for work for the land you love. Happy trails – happy cutting!