The Beauty and Power of Nature (and Grubs)

Dear Ecology Volunteers!

We made it through our Fall Field Ecology schedule without mishap or cancelation. More importantly, our students and volunteers were able to experience the tremendous beauty and power of our wild natural places. What a difference from on-line learning. Heartfelt thanks to the scores of volunteers who made these adventures possible.Our Harvest Day potato / cider / firepit storytelling was postponed until tomorrow, November 1, 2021 for pre-K through 2nd grade. Today I will be cutting and wrapping potatoes in the garden at  3:00. Want to help? Bring your favorite knife and cutting board. We need to prepare 300+ servings!  I am relieved to have dedicated volunteer fire keepers / potato chefs ready to light the oven early tomorrow. Because of the postponement because of rain, the issue of additional volunteer help is unsure. We will need help buttering and salting potatoes, getting our little ones seated, serving hot cider and generally watching over things. Can you help? The schedule is attached here, disregard the Field and Face painting activities.  5cuNPmLZzW1ZtOwjVd/view?usp=drivesdk

One reflection, during this lovely, mysterious time of year: Our 5th grade Mighty Acorns  ecology lesson is about Habitat Fragmentation and Biodiversity. It explains that the disruption of vast, connected ecosystems results in our protected natural areas looking like and acting like islands in a sea of development. One way we judge the health of a natural area is by keeping track of the number of species living there. Higher species diversity signifies ecological health and resilience. If diversity drops over time, the preserve is in trouble and our management techniques are inadequate.  One ecological rule of thumb is that islands (preserves) that are larger, and closer to each other will likely maintain biodiversity better than those that are smaller and farther apart.  We were running a simulation game in the picnic grove last Thursday, in a light drizzle. We were on the 20th round of this game when the kids let out a shriek. They pointed to a very large buck white-tailed deer in flat out pursuit of a large doe. They thundered across the grove like racehorses. I’ve never seen anything like it. We joked that they were looking for a bigger island to live on. Which brings me to Welles Park and the grubs. The thing about monocultural lawns is that they lack resilience. The ideal is to have one species of grass growing to the exclusion of everything else. This means that if some insect or disease is attracted to that species of grass, they can tear through that community like those deer racing through the grove.  And they leave behind…. nothing. The same goes for corn and soybean fields. To maintain those monocultures, endless pesticides are used. These are unstable ecosystems constantly in conflict with Mother Nature’s determination to create bio-diversity. So, rather than be grossed out by the grubs, we should consider these vast grass plantings, and remember that the grubs have contributed their copious waste products (and many of them, their own bodies) to that waste area. Birds have eaten them and left their own waste, enriching the open ground. Maybe now is the moment to plant a perma-cultural forest of edible fruits there. Grubs create a problem in low diversity ecosystems. Why not diversify and, as a bonus, create a space to involve neighbors in agriculture and the harvest of delicious food. The grubs have raised our consciousness!

Mr. Leki