Consultant Analyzes North Campus Land

By Barbara Walvoord

Consultant Laurie Sanders (left) advises residents (from left) Jim Dowell, Barbara Walvoord, and Mary Willard, during a July 3, 2014 walk on the North campus
Consultant Laurie Sanders (left) advises residents (from left) Jim Dowell, Barbara Walvoord, and Mary Willard, during a July 3, 2014 walk on the North campus

How can we best manage our woods, fields, brooks, and wetlands so as to nurture birds, bees, butterflies, and other wildlife? To help us answer that question, the Land Conservation Subcommittee of the Green Committee, together with Lathrop director Thom Wright, engaged consultant Laurie Sanders to walk our land for three mornings, ending June 3 with a walk at the North campus. Continue reading Consultant Analyzes North Campus Land


Trail is Mowed! Walk Across the Meadow to Bassett Brook

Trail is Mowed! Walk Across the Meadow to Bassett Brook

You can now walk to Bassett Brook without wading through tall grass, thanks to our own staff who have mowed a path through the meadow. It’s lovely–quiet, cool, and peaceful.  Thanks to Mike Strycharz for responding to the request of the Land Conservation Subcommittee, and to Dennis who did the actual mowing on Monday morning.

So do this: start at the little blue garden shed at the end of Bassett Brook Drive. Follow the wide mowed path through the woods to the meadow. Then you can now also cross the meadow and walk through the woods about a block’s length to a bluff that looks down onto Bassett Brook. Along the way, you’ll see birds, butterflies, and wildflowers.

There should be minimal danger from ticks as long as you keep to the middle of the path and do not brush against the tall grasses where they like to sit, just waiting for you to come along so they can attach to your pants. They can’t jump.






Land Conservation Committee Walks with Consultant

Land Conservation Committee Walks with Consultant

Barbara Walvoord for the Land Conservation Subcommittee

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Consultant Laurie Sanders walks Lathrop’s land with (from left) Jim Dowell, Diedrick Snoek, Sharon Grace, and Barbara Walvoord. Also walking on June 30 and July 1 at the Easthampton campus were Adele Dowell, Roger Gustavsson , and Chuck Gillies (photographer).

Monday and Tuesday, you may have seen an intrepid group of Land Conservation Committee members walking through our woods, fields, and wetlands, with our consultant Laurie Sanders. Yep, we were the ones with cameras, clip boards, hats, and long pants tucked into our socks.

Our mission: To work with Laurie on a long-range plan for managing our 177 acres of Lathrop East land, so as to nurture our wild life and native environment.

On Thursday, we’ll walk the Northampton campus. Then we’ll be ready to complete our plan for both campuses.

Laurie is a naturalist who has for years been working to assess conservation areas and plan their management in the Northampton area and elsewhere. She has a long resume of accomplishments. You may have heard her on NPR.

What Did We Learn?

What did we learn from Laurie so far?  Bottom line: we have beautiful and precious land with many native plants that support wildlife. We have some serious problems with invasives, but not as bad as some of the conservation land that Laurie has worked with in Northampton. We can make genuine progress. We can prevent our woods, wetlands, and fields from being totally overgrown with invasives that do not support our native wildlife, birds, and insects. Continue reading Land Conservation Committee Walks with Consultant

Wildflowers to Look For: Daisy Fleabane

By Barbara Walvoord, 6/19/14

Lesser Daisy Fleabane
Lesser Daisy Fleabane

As you walk along Basset Brook Road and look into our hedges and fields, one of the most numerous native wildflowers you will see now is the fleabane. There are 183 species of fleabane, and many, many more species of daisies, the larger family to which fleabanes belong. At Lathrop, we seem to have the Lesser Daisy Fleabane (Erigeron strigosus). It has a small white or purplish-white flower with many petals, like a daisy, and a relatively large, flat, yellow center.

The great thing about fleabanes is that they are native to our area. They evolved with our local insects. Thus, unlike alien plants, fleabanes provide food for insects, including the larvae of several kinds of butterflies and moths (

People from the ancient Egyptians to American colonists believed that the dried flowers could rid a house of fleas. Starlings, according to one source, line their nests with fleabane to keep mites away, and colonists stuffed their mattresses with it, but modern sources are skeptical about its flea-fighting powers. Maybe not fleas, but fleabane is toxic to cows and goats, mollusks, and fungi that infect strawberry plants.

Native Americans used it in their smoking mixture, and for a variety of medical problems including hemorrhages, colds, coughs, diarrhea, headache, and bad vision. They smoked it, snuffed it, and mixed it with other herbs as a poultice. The Cherokee started friction fires with the dried stalk of a fleabane, which they called “firemaker.” (


Land Conservation planning, June 30

Beginning June 30, at 8 a.m. at the Inn, consultant Laurie Sanders will be spending several mornings walking our land on both campuses, and helping us make a master plan for managing our land to protect our wildlife and habitat.
You are welcome to join us for any part of Laurie’s visit.

For example, we’ll be assessing what’s here, what invasives are present, how to manage them, where to put walking paths and wildflower gardens, uses for our corn and hay fields which have been mismanaged by our farmers, ways to reduce pesticide and herbicide harm to our wildlife and habitat, and how our limited resources can best be used to meet our goals.

Here is the schedule. We’ll follow it rain or shine, unless there’s lightening or torrential downpour.
Mon., June 30,  8 – 9 a.m., beginning at the Inn at Easthampton.  We will walk down the wide mowed woods path first, then across the meadow (we hope to have a path mowed across the meadow by then), and follow my orange markers through the woods to Bassett Brook. Laurie will be observing our land and talking about what she sees, with the goal of moving toward a master plan. This will be the easy part of the walk. You are welcome to join us for any part of it.
Tues., July 1,  9 – 12 and Wed., July 2,  8-12.  After that easy part, we will be trekking the rest of the land, through tall grasses, wetlands, woods, and fields, on non-paths. You are welcome to join us for any part of that walk. You’ll need tick protection, drinking water, some nuts or other snack, sunscreen, and boots that can go through mud, wetland, or shallow streams. If you want to join us at any time en route, call my cell phone to find out where we are: 574-361-3857On Tuesday, we may spend the final hour at the Inn discussing what we’ve seen and outlining a plan.
Wed., July 2, open in case we’ve been rained out earlier or need more time.
Thurs., July 3,
 8-10 a.m.: open as above
10:15 – 12:15. Walk and talk at the Northampton campus. Meet at the Meeting House at 10:15. You’ll need tick protection, water, and sturdy boots.

Land Conservation Committee: The Big Picture

Overall goal: A master plan for managing our land.
  • This is not the same as the much broader Lathrop master plan that Thom announced yesterday in our mailboxes. Our plan is just about land management for conservation and native habitat; that larger plan is about everything. Our plan will inform the larger plan.
  • Our plan will give us a vision of what we can realistically achieve, priorities for what is most important, and a budget, timeline, and task list to guide our  future work

How do the consultants and visitors fit in?
Continue reading Land Conservation Committee: The Big Picture

What Are the Turkeys Doing?

For Lamp Post “It’s Easy Being Green”

by Barbara Walvoord

What Are the Turkeys Doing?land 6 14 14 024

The metaphorical turkeys–the government, the military-industrial complex, the big banks, and so on–are of course running the country right into the ground, as we all know. But the actual turkeys at Lathrop are busy doing their thing. We’ve spotted them lately around our houses and fields. I saw one on June 14, down behind the houses on Spiceberry. Continue reading What Are the Turkeys Doing?

Nurturing Lathrop’s native plants and wildlife.