Fall Planting at the Food Forest!

We are getting excited!  Fall is arriving and we will be planting many of our fruit trees and shrubs soon!

Thanks to a wonderful group of volunteers we cleared the area of weeds a few weeks ago.  Also, several volunteers amended the soil for blueberries, cranberries and lingonberries.

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Wonderful ACLT volunteers

weeding-the-food-forest-2after-picture-of-weed-in-food-forest

This Sunday we are putting up a fence, to keep the deer out.  Helpers are welcome!

Soon we will be seeding in dichondra repens.  As a ground cover, it will help build humus, and improve soil fertility and beneficial soil life.  It will keep the soil at more moderate temperatures and help retain moisture in the summer.  And, it will also provide and keep detritus for natural mulching, prevent erosion, and build beneficial insect habitats.  It is recommended that we wait for days to be in the 70’s and night’s in the 50’s to plant these.

We will also be seeding in more native herbaceous plants to attract beneficial insects.  We have some nice ones blooming right now, but want to add some more clusters.  Many of these seeds need a period of cold in order to sprout.  So, as nature does it, we are planting them in the fall, and hopefully they will start growing in the spring.

Next week (Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on when they arrive) we will be planting strawberries.  Yay, our first fruit producers!  We are planting a variety of strawberries.  Some will be native strawberries, with the added benefit of supporting native wildlife.  They are supposed to provide small, but very flavorful berries.  I can’t wait to taste them!  We are also planting some typical spring bearing berries,  everbearing berries (give fruit in spring and again later in the fall), and day neutral berries (provide fruit throughout the summer and into the fall).  If all goes well we will have a long season of strawberries.  Strawberries are originally forest plants, so the hope is that that they will do well with the trees, and support a healthy forest soil life.

On Saturday, September 17th, we will be building a Hugelkultur mound, a second area for blue berries, cranberries and lingonberries.  Hugelkultur is an ancient European practice of burying logs under raised beds.  These mounds build a rich soil life which is incredible for fertility, moisture retention, heat retention and just plain amazing growth.  We have had some amazing results with hugelkultur mounds in our EDGE garden.  We are looking for help building this mound.  So, if you are interested in this method of gardening, come join us for a morning of digging and learning.  You can also check out all the things growing on our EDGE garden hugel mounds.

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Sweet Potato from EDGE garden Hugelkultur

Around the 1st of November, we will be receiving many other fruit plants: pears, plums, raspberries, blackberries, service berries, persimmons, cherries, and others.  It will be a fun project to plant these bushes and trees in their new home.  We would love for you to join us.

 

 

 

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ACLT Announces Plans to Farm for Food Banks

The American Chestnut Land Trust’s Double Oak Farm Shifts Focus to Donating Crops to Local Food Pantries and Providing Gardening Education.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                           
ACLT Media POC:  Pam Shilling
volunteer@acltweb.org
410-414-3400

Expert POC:  Karen Edgecombe
Executive Director, ACLT
kedgecombe@acltweb.org
410-414-3400

The Board and staff of the American Chestnut Land Trust is very pleased to announce that beginning this season its Double Oak Farm will be donating the vast majority of its produce to local food pantries.  “This new effort is a powerful opportunity for all those involved to touch the lives of their neighbors in very concrete ways,” says Pat Griffin, ACLT’s Board President.   On March 14th, at 9:00AM, ACLT will hold its Annual Membership Meeting at St. John Vianney’s Family Life Center in Prince Frederick where leadership will announce the inspiring changes to the purpose of the Double Oak Farm located on ACLT protected land.  Both members and non-members are invited to attend to find out more about this and other ACLT activities and to hear Bernie Fowler Jr., founder of “Farming 4 Hunger”, offer the keynote address. (register at http://acltweb.org )

For the past five years, the American Chestnut Land Trust, a leading voice for land conservation in Calvert County, has produced crops on its preserved land off of Double Oak Rd in Prince Frederick, Maryland.   The property which was acquired by the land trust in 1994 has been managed as a “CSA” – a Community Supported Agriculture facility – and, with the help of volunteer farm managers and work-shares, has offered community members the opportunity to purchase weekly portions of organically farmed fruits, vegetables and herbs.  The no-till, organic farming method not only produces considerable volumes of food, but also provides health benefits for the soil and the watershed ACLT so ardently cares for.

This year, however, ACLT staff and leadership have decided to change the purpose of the farm.  Rather than offering “Community Supported Agriculture,” ACLT’s Double Oak Farm will offer “Agriculture Supporting the Community.”  This new direction will mean that enough fresh fruits and vegetables will be donated to feed approximately 40 families per week.  In addition, a special section of the farm has been dedicated to creating a large educational garden that will introduce home gardening, the benefits of native gardening and what we can learn from natural historic farming techniques.  Once a month during June, July and August, ACLT will also host a farmers market where the public is invited to explore the farm, take part in workshops and purchase produce.  All profits will go back into the farming program.  With this new direction, ACLT is excited to further its mission of “connecting people with the land.”

The American Chestnut Land Trust is a member supported not-for-profit organization whose purpose is to protect the Parkers Creek watershed and its surrounding natural lands, waterways, and wildlife habitats. Established in 1986 as Maryland’s first grass-roots, community based land trust, over 3,000 acres have been protected. ACLT maintains 19 miles of trails which are open and free to the public and offers regular opportunities to canoe on and study the pristine ecosystems of Parkers Creek.   Please visit http://acltweb.org for more information on events and opportunities and to register to attend the meeting on March 14th.

Images: 

Farm Volunteers: https://flic.kr/p/qumRGu

Beautiful Produce (invitation image): https://flic.kr/p/qumRGu

http://acltweb.org  | https://www.facebook.com/AmericanChestnutLandTrust | 410-414-3400 |info@acltweb.org

You are a “Force of Nature!”

Volunteers are the awesome power behind the American Chestnut Land Trust’s ability to care for the Parkers Creek Preserve!

The watershed would not be in such great shape without the devoted help of our volunteers. The Bay Journal describes it this way:  “Parts of Parkers Creek look much like they did when John Smith sailed up the Bay. This is not by chance. The creek and much of the land in its watershed are protected by a dedicated group of local residents and one of the most active land trusts in the state-the American Chestnut Land Trust.”  That’s 100% thanks to you.

You are the most important part of ACLT!  So in your honor – and recognizing the truth of the title – we are renaming our volunteer program

A Force of Nature!

Our “Force of Nature Volunteer Program” will:

  • Expand our circle of fun, inspiring and hard-working people dedicated to caring for the Parkers Creek Preserve.
  • Offer well-defined activities that match your interest and availability.  Only have an hour to spare?  We’ve got something that will only take an hour!  Want to spend an afternoon on the trails in the spring? We can plan that today!  Do you enjoy planning parties? 2015 will be all about events and celebrating this beautiful area!

Register for the “Force of Nature Volunteer Team” or talk to Pam (ACLT’s Community Relations Coordinator) at volunteer@acltweb.org or by calling 410-414-3400.

***Already a Member and a Volunteer?  Thanks for jumping in again! Follow this link to the Volunteer Registration page to verify your information and to update what kinds of activities you want to be involved with!

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So what kinds of activities can you be a part of?

Handy People (Carpenters/Equipment Repair/Electrical):  We have multiple barns and buildings and equipment to maintain them.  Our Handy People help us with general maintenance and building projects. Carpentry skills valuable for sign-in box building, bridge repairs, etc.

Trail Stewards:  Work with our land manager to select a trail that you can adopt to care for like it is your own! Hike it frequently, moving branches and noting tree roots.  Report back to the land manager for major repairs and upkeep.

Canoe Guides:  Qualified and experienced paddlers can sign up for training each May to become an ACLT Canoe Guide on our Parkers Creek Trips.

Farm/Garden:  If you love to be in the garden, we need help planting, weeding, watering and harvesting!  This is a special year as the farm changes over to primarily supplying fresh fruits and vegetables to local food banks. You’ll be helping so many people with your volunteer hours!  We also have pollinator gardens, rain gardens and demonstrations that are teaching tools for the public.

Events Team:  ACLT hosts many outreach events that require lots of help, from set up to socializing, to running games and food tables, our event team is a critical aspects of ACLT’s ability to reach its goals in 2015! This category has several activities that can be done from home!

Water Quality Monitoring:  This is a great option for our Citizen Scientists.  WQM takes place on Parkers Creek monthly and helps us track the health of the watershed.  Training provided!

Weed Whacking Wednesdays: Join our weekly Wednesday group to care for our South Side trails.

Thursday Trail Adventurers:  Join our bi-weekly Thursday Team that cares for our North Side trails.

Spring/Fall Trail Maintenance:  Twice a year, ACLT gathers a large group of volunteers to spend a Saturday morning doing large projects and maintenance.  ACLT provides equipment, food and fun. You provide the elbow grease!

Musicians: ACLT will have a variety of events in 2015 that we would like to make even more festive with live music!  If you are a musician that plays family friendly country, bluegrass, pop/rock classics, or jazz please get in touch with the Community Relations Coordinator at 410-414-3400. Can’t wait to hear you!

Register here for the “Force of Nature Volunteer Team”.  Or talk to Pam (ACLT’s Community Relations Coordinator) at volunteer@acltweb.org or by calling 410-414-3400.