MHS Eco Club Students Add Prairie Forbs to New Wildwood Landscape
BY JEFF LEDERMANN
After spending time helping create “The Outback” at OH Anderson Elementary, the MHS Eco Club took up discussions on how they could support environmental and outdoor learning at the new Wildwood Elementary School being built near Mahtomedi High School. As construction progressed, we learned that several areas disturbed during construction were scheduled for re-seeding last fall (2012). With prodding and support from MAGI members the school staff and contractors had agreed to seed many of the areas with native grasses along the new roads around the school, but funding was not available for native forbs (flowers) to be added to the mix. Several options were pursued to obtain seed, but the students soon realized that the prairie they had seeded and planted in 2005-2006 as students at OH Anderson could serve as a seed source for the new Wildwood. It would take a little work to plan, pick and process the seeds, but late fall was the ideal time to collect the dry seeds and spread them at the new school where the seeds could lay fallow under the winter’s snow and be ready for germination next spring.
After getting the proper approvals, several Eco Club members descended with buckets in hand on the OHA prairie on a brisk, cold Saturday afternoon in late October to get to work. With everything a different shade of gray or brown, dead and dried up, plant identification was challenging. However, we managed to find many different species of forbs to collect. In no time we had several quarts of seed heads and started the process of separating the seeds from what remained of their flower heads while sitting on the OHA parking lot. After our hands were sore from crushing, pulling and squeezing, it was off to the new Wildwood. The cool breezes helped with our scattering of seeds as we marched with our buckets in a ragged line outside the new road along the north side of the school, randomly spreading our treasures. It was exciting to think about how this area might one day be home to an exciting array of beautiful, native flowers and the wildlife it might attract. We hope the new residents of Wildwood, including the students and staff, enjoy the milkweed, coneflowers, wild bergamont, and other flowers that hopefully will prosper around the school.
Jeff Ledermann is advisor of the Eco Club. For more information, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org