Originally published in the Lathrop Lamp Post, Dec. 21, 2018.
The new Republican tax bill is all over the news lately, but we’re not the first people who’ve had to think hard about taxes at this holiday season. Hannukah celebrates the rededication of the temple in the year 165 BCE, after the Jews, oppressed by cruel taxes and other wrongs, had risen up and defeated their Greek occupiers. In the Christian story, the reason Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem in the first place was because Rome had decreed that “all the world should be taxed,” and Jews must travel to the town of their family’s origin to pay up. A carpenter and his 9-month pregnant wife had to walk or ride a donkey to a hugely overcrowded town with not enough hotels. American colonists were so mad about British taxes on tea that on December 16, 1773, they dumped their own precious tea into the Boston harbor. Continue reading Taxes→
First appeared in Lathrop Lamp Post Oct. 21-27, 2017
More than 80 residents, Valley conservationists, and members of the public gathered on Oct. 21 to celebrate Lathrop’s removal of invasive plants from the “Free Fifty” acres of forest on both campuses–a unique accomplishment that science suggests will increase the wildlife on our land. A program in the Inn was followed by guided walks on both campuses. The audience included many of those who helped us: consultants from 7 prominent conservation organizations, 28 resident volunteers who removed invasives, scores of residents who donated funds, and 3 granting agencies (Kendal Charitable Funds, Community Foundation of Western Mass., and the Northampton Community Preservation Committee).
Guided walk participants expressed their delight in walking through woods that are not choked with invasive plants, and said over and over how amazed they are at our accomplishment. Lathrop is a visible participant in the Valley community of those who care about nature, conservation, and wildlife. A collage of photos is at Free 50 collage LampPostFree50 em. Copies of the handout materials are at https://lathropland.wordpress.com/free-fifty-celebration-oct-21/
First published in the Lathrop Lamp Post for Sept. 16-22, 2017
In the past three years, we’ve removed literally thousands of invasive multiflora roses from our land–roses that crowd out native plants but fail to support wildlife as fully as our native plants do.
Join us October 21 at 1 p.m. in the Inn to celebrate the demise of these roses and other invasive plants on our “Free Fifty” acres of land, on both campuses. The program is also open to the public. Pre-registration is required because space is limited. Residents will receive invitations in their mailboxes soon.
We’re also adding roses–native ones in the native plant landscaping area near the Inn. On Sept. 18, at 10:30, residents may gather there for a short celebration, including an explanation by our landscape Continue reading Roses Out, Roses In→
(Originally printed in Lathrop Lamp Post, June 22, 2017)
Lathrop’s “Free Fifty” is 50 acres of forest from which, in the past 3 years, we’ve been removing invasive plants in order to increase native plants and the wildlife that depends on them.
Our achievement is visible as we compare two sections of our forest–one where we have removed invasives with one area where we have not (Photos June 19, 2017).
The contrast is stunning. On the north side of the Farmer’s Field, where we have not worked, huge invasive multiflora rose bushes, now in bloom, “exclude most native shrubs and herbs…and may be detrimental to nesting of native birds” In the background,invasive Oriental bittersweet vines are strangling the trees.
On the south side where we’ve worked for three years to remove invasives, you’ll see piles of dead multiflora rose and bittersweet vines. Among them, native plants are arising, like the native gray dogwood pictured above. It delights us with its lacy white blossoms, and it hosts the larvae of 115 species of native butterflies and moths (Lepidoptera). These caterpillars are a large part of the diet of many baby birds. (http://www.nhm.ac.uk/our-science/data/hostplants/.) Continue reading What We’ve Achieved→
(Originally published in Lathrop Lamp Post, June 10-16, 2017)
I’m not talking about humans. In fact, Lathrop has recently joined with other Valley residents to help welcome immigrants fleeing danger and oppression in other countries.
But illegal alien PLANTS are a different story. Some alien plants, having left behind the enemies and competitors that control them in their native lands, have overtaken woods and fields throughout the U.S., and have shoved out our native plants. This is bad because these aliens did not co-evolve with our native wildlife, so they do not as fully provide the food and cover that our native birds and other wildlife need. Because these plants threaten our native plants and wildlife, many states, including Massachusetts, have declared certain alien invasive plants illegal to sell or propagate.
For example, Lathrop’s landscaping has many (now illegal) burning bushes, also called winged euonymus (Euonymus alatus). Their seeds are sprouting in our woods on both campuses. This internet photo shows a woods taken over by winged euonymus. The second photo shows winged euonymus coming into our Lathrop woods in 2014. Since then, the Land Conservation Committee, with grants, resident donations, and thousands of hours by resident volunteers and by our Continue reading Illegal Aliens at Lathrop→
(First published in the Lathrop Lamp Post, Dec. 16, 2016)
Autumn and winter are good times to remove invasive shrubs, so resident volunteers have been out with loppers and pruners. Among the tangles of invasive multiflora rose, Oriental bittersweet, and shrub honeysuckle, we often find the native red osier dogwood (Cornus sericea), its bright red branches twisting and leaning to find the light or to escape the smothering thicket of invasives.
It’s always a great pleasure to find, and free, this lovely, useful native plant.
Native Americans used red osier dogwood in many ways, peeling the bark for a tooth brush; eating the berries to treat colds, bleeding, or diarrhea; making tools, bows, arrows, baskets, and red dye; and mixing it with other plants forsmoking.Continue reading Liberating Lathrop’s Red Osier Dogwood→
(First published in Lathrop’s Lamp Post, Nov. 10, 2016)
November is a month of truth for a forest. Most native shrubs have lost their leaves or turned to muted colors. But some very dangerous invasive plants are still going strong, their vibrant colors now highly visible, as they crowd out native plants but fail to provide the food that native wildlife needs: 96% of birds need insects, not just nectar and seeds, to raise their young; 90% of insects eat only native plants (Douglas Tallamy, Bringing Nature Home).
Lathrop’s “Free Fifty” Forest project has been removing invasive plants from 50 acres of forest on both campuses. These before-and-after photos, taken 2 years apart in the same spot, tell the story of our amazing achievement. The top photo, taken in November of 2014, shows red leaves of invasive burning bush and yellow-green leaves of invasive honeysuckle invading our forest on the east campus. The bottom photo, taken two years later in Nov., 2016, shows all the invasives removed. Now the native winterberry (center left in the photo), as well as native high-bush blueberry and others are thriving in our woods, supporting more wildlife than before.
The next photo, taken April, 2014, shows invasive Japanese barberry coming into our north campus woods along the stream. The photo below it shows two years later, 2016, a bit later in the season, where you can see the dead barberry in the middle, and other plants thriving around it.