Posted by: Reena Ramos

  • 02/01/2017

In all weather: Workday volunteers share laughter, hard work & satisfaction

In below-freezing temperatures, this past Saturday, January 28, ACRES volunteers showed up and dug in for our Preserve Workday. Eight volunteers gathered with staff members on the Tom and Jane Dustin Nature Preserve near Huntertown to fight the non-native invasive Vinca plant, commonly known as Periwinkle. The vine-like plant is a tenacious ground-cover, hence its popularity in gardens or around homes. It spreads, crowding out other plants and, thus is not welcome in nature preserves.

If you’ve ever tried to remove it, you know that Vinca is tough. Our task? Hand-pull as much of it as possible in a two-hour period. Why hand-pulling? It was cold — too cold to spray it with Roundup. Vinca is one of few plants in our region that photosynthesizes just above freezing; in slightly warmer weather, it would have been about the only plant taking up herbicide. Alas, temperatures hovered around 28 degrees. And so we knelt, side-by-side, pulling and grasping with gloved hands.

Together, we removed garbage bag after garbage bag of Vinca, bagging it to prevent it from re-rooting. Would you believe we had a good time? We were uncomfortable, kneeling on the cold ground, frozen fingers grasping the stringy plant, but we were in it together, laughing, sharing stories from the land. We made new friends and talked about ACRES preserves, other protected natural areas, wildlife we’ve seen from the trails, the range of non-native invasive plants in our region and about children and how they see the world. There we were, kneeling together, putting our desire for a healthy natural world into action, no matter the weather. It felt great.

Our workdays vary. This March, you can join us at Asherwood in Wabash County to help clear trails and collect sap from the trees for maple syrup making. In April, we’ll head to Detering Nature Preserve in Kendallville to remove the non-native invasive Tree of Heaven. Then, in May, we’ll meet on the newly-acquired and closed-to-the-public Wayne Township Property in Warsaw to plant Little Blue Stem plugs, restoring the remnant prairie there. (Workday details are pending and will be announced on our event page, in our email newsletter and for members, in the spring Quarterly.)

Do you want to contribute a little sweat equity to these forever-protected places? You can join us at Kokiwanee next month. We’ll have hot beverages, plenty of work and hearty laughs to share. You can take away the satisfaction of investing in the land with your own hands.

Saturday, February 25, 10 – noon
5825 E. 50 S, Lagro, IN 46941

You can work the land with your own hands. Help remove non-native invasive Vinca and complete odd jobs on this much-loved preserve, featuring frozen waterfalls! Additional tasks are in the works; we’ll update you on Facebook as weather conditions become apparent.

Hosted by Kelly Shepherd and the ACRES outreach team.