Category Archives: Committee

Lathrop’s “Free Fifty” Forest–An Amazing Achievement

by Barbara Walvoord

(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.


north-barberry-gone-6-20-16img_1034 Continue reading Lathrop’s “Free Fifty” Forest–An Amazing Achievement


2016 — The Year of the Brooks

by Barbara Walvoord

In the coming weeks, you may see folks wearing wading boots and carrying clipboards walking around on both campuses. They’ll be from our own Land Conservation Committee, from Polatin Ecological Services (our contractor for invasives removal), and from the town Conservation Commissions (who give permission for invasives removal along streams and wetlands).

They will be here because we have received two grants, as well as resident gifts, to focus this year on the ecology of our brooks–Pine Brook on the north campus, and Bassett Brook on the east campus, as well as their banks, floodplains, and smaller tributaries.

So let’s begin our Year of the Brooks with the big picture. Both our brooks flow eventually into the Connecticut River, which makes Continue reading 2016 — The Year of the Brooks

New Year by the Numbers

by Barbara Walvoord

50: The number of total acres of Lathrop land, on both campuses, that have been cleared of invasives, or that are part way through a three-year project to clear invasives. This is a terrific achievement!

4: The number of grants we have received for this work.

Beyond 5,000: The number of invasive plants that volunteer residents have cleared from our land. Some of these plants were garlic mustard plants or shrub and tree seedlings we pulled quickly; some were humongous multiflora rose bushes that took an hour to cut down with our loppers and saws. Some were bittersweet vines as thick as your arm. In addition, our Polatin Ecological Services team has cleared more thousands of invasives from our fifty acres.

96%: The percentage of birds that need insects, not just seeds and nectar, to raise their young.

90%: The percentage of insects that eat only native plants. Plants develop structure and chemistry that deter insect eaters. But a native insect species has developed mouth parts and body chemistry to overcome the defenses of one, or a small number, of native plants Continue reading New Year by the Numbers

Sustainability at Lathrop

by Barbara Walvoord

Lathrop residents and management are thinking a lot these days about being sustainable–in terms of occupancy, finances, services, buildings, and long-range plans. More broadly, Lathrop and the other Kendal affiliates all voted in 2009 to implement thirteen “sustainability initiatives” to help keep not only ourselves but our WORLD sustainable in the future.

  1. Establish, monitor, and maintain a community-wide, multi-faceted system of recycling or disposal of items such as, but not limited to, paper goods, containers, plastics, batteries, electronic goods, and hazardous materials.
  2. Establish a program to reduce office paper usage, and purchase of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC, an international non-profit, multi-stakeholder organization established to promote responsible management of the world’s forests) certified paper for all print materials.
  3. Establish a program to install and maintain native landscape.
  4. Provide building automation/energy management system for monitoring mechanical, electrical, and plumbing equipment for maximum efficiency.
  5. Develop an energy conservation plan that is measurable.
  6. Adopt a policy to purchase only EnergyStar appliances.
  7. Offer environmental educational programs and ongoing reminders and updates to staff and residents about environmental issues and opportunities.
  8. Establish a program for water conservation.
  9. Provide a program for incorporating the least possible use of herbicides and pesticides into landscape management.
  10. Provide a program for using green chemicals in all aspects of operations including housekeeping, laundry, and dining.
  11. Establish a “food philosophy” which includes incorporating local food in the dining program.
  12. Establish a program and practice of Green Building standards in any construction or renovation project including finishes and furnishing.
  13. Establish a sustainability workgroup in the community including residents and staff that actively works to monitor and advance the sustainability efforts of the community; includes a sustainability “library” with references and website links.                (

Continue reading Sustainability at Lathrop

Report to Residents July 30, 2014

Report of the Land Conservation Subcommittee of the Green Committee

July 30, 2014

by Barbara Walvoord, Chair

Committee Members: Adele Dowell, Jim Dowell, Alfred Eipper, Sharon Grace, Chuck Gillies, Lyn Howe, Eleanor Johnson, Gillian Morbey, Diedrick Snoek, and Barbara Walvoord

Since our last report, the committee has moved forward in each of its eight lines of work:

  1. Master plan, finances, infrastucture
  2. Agricultural fields
  3. Removal of invasives
  4. Bushwhacking, mowing
  5. Herbicides, pesticides
  6. Planting natives
  7. Trails
  8. Programming and information

Particularly, watch for these developments:

  • Tomorrow, July 31, the state Biologist and the state Soil Conservation Planner are coming to walk our fields and give us ideas about how best to support wildlife, especially grassland birds like bobolinks and meadowlarks, which are increasingly at risk. Support for grassland birds and other wildlife is one of three alternative uses for our fields that we are researching. The other two alternatives (not mutually exclusive) are organic/sustainable farming, and a possible 5-8-acre solar field on a piece of our land not visible from our homes. A representative from a solar cooperative called Community Solar is coming August 18 at 10 a.m. in the Inn for a very early exploratory discussion. Nothing may come of it, and no commitments will be made without a GREAT DEAL more investigation and discussion with the whole Lathrop community, board, etc.
  • Presentation in August or September by our naturalist consultant Laurie Sanders about the natural history, present status, and future of our land.
  • Development of a native wildflower garden in front of Cranberry House. We’ll be sharing the plan with all of you and inviting you to participate in (or come and watch) a planting day in the fall.
  • We are contacting contractors who can help us remove invasives in our fields, woods, and wetlands that are threatening our native plants and wildlife.
  • We need information from residents about their needs and desires for walking trails.

Minutes of the Land Conservation Subcommittee Meeting of July 25, 2014

Minutes of the Land Conservation Subcommittee Meeting of July 25, 2014

The committee met in the Inn on the east campus on July 25 from 10:30 a.m. to 12 noon.

Present: Adele Dowell, Jim Dowell, Chuck Gillies, Sharon Grace, Michael Harvey, Lyn Howe, Eleanor Johnson, Diedrick Snoek, Barbara Walvoord (chair), and Thom Wright. Gilliam Morbey was unable to attend, but we plan to hold a meeting on the north campus in August with her and other friends there, to discuss plans resulting from the visit there of Laurie Sanders.

The first hour was spent in open-ended discussion of Laurie Sanders’ visit, viewing photos of our land shared by Chuck Gillies, and exploring issues about our land. We discussed the extent to which we want to open our land to hikers and others outside our own residents. We generated ideas for programs, trails, and other ways to engage residents. We talked about the various parcels of our land and their management. We talked about how to raise funds and how to get residents engaged in invasives removal. We discussed the plans for a native plant garden at the Cranberry House.

During the final half hour, we discussed the task list and signed up people to make progress on the tasks. Attached is the revised task list, which incorporated the new sign-ups as well as points and suggestions made during our discussion.

Respectfully submitted,

Barbara Walvoord, Chair