Thinking about our Land

Article for Nor’Easter

Barbara Walvoord  2/5/14

red berry Picture5Here’s an amazing statistic: 96% of birds need bugs, not just berries, to feed their young. 90% of  bugs can eat only native plants, and most eat only a few types or one type of native plant.

If we want birds, we need to nourish our bugs. If we want bugs, we have to nourish a wide variety of the native plants they need.

So what’s a “native”?  It’s a plant that evolved with our insects in this area, over time. We have lots of natives at Lathrop, but also lots of alien plants that our insects cannot use. We can make a significant difference for our world if we conserve and restore native habitat on our land.

A book that will open your eyes about the importance of these issues is Douglas Tallamy’s Bringing Nature Home. Our amazing statistic comes from his book. He writes beautifully and compellingly about the web of life. The web begins when plants capture sunlight. They are the only things that can do so. Everything else depends on their doing it. Then bugs and animals eat the plants, other bugs and animals eat them, and so on up the food chain. If the native plants aren’t there, then the whole thing collapses. You can buy the book on We are ordering a copy for the Lathrop library. If you Google Tallamy, you can find You-Tubes of his presentations. This one summarizes the basic ideas of the book:

Are you starting to get seed catalogs in your mail? Considering planting some natives in your garden this spring? Be sure you get “straight” natives, not cultivars of natives. The best source we know is Project Native in Housatonic, near Great Barrington, about 75 minutes drive from Lathrop ( You can get their catalog. In spring, a trip to their nursery is fun: They have all kinds of native plants for sale and information about growing them, as well as walking paths and a butterfly house. They also sponsor a film festival.


Report to Residents Nov 2013

Lathrop East Path
Lathrop East Path

The New “Green” Committee

November, 2013 Barbara Walvoord, Chair What is the purpose? To protect and enrich Lathrop’s conserved land, wildlife, birds, and native habitat, and to work toward reducing Lathrop’s carbon footprint and addressing climate change. In the words of the Kendal mission, to “walk lightly on the land.” Who is working on it now? Barbara Walvoord and Sharon Grace,  …and YOU…. So far, we have…

  • Met with Thom, Mike, and Michael Harvey to discuss how to work together on this project.
  • Prepared a future presentation for residents (watch for the date!) and for the property committee of the Board
  • Identified several potential naturalists who can help us inventory our land and shape a plan for its nourishment
  • Begun to inventory and remove invasive plants such as bittersweet and barberry, that threaten to suffocate our trees and form an impenetrable mass in our woods, crowding out the native plants on which our birds, insects, and wildlife depend.
  • Started a native wildflower garden in the meadow at the end of the woods path
  • Marked a 15-minute walking path from the small garden shed to the bank of Bassett Brook. (Look for the orange ribbons.)

Nurturing Lathrop’s native plants and wildlife.