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New Evergreen Students Take to the Farm

In September, over 40 new students at The Evergreen State College (TESC) spent the afternoon helping our farm crew at Violet Prairie Farm as part of TESC's second annual Day of Service. These new students took part in this project as part of their new student orientation week, working with CNLM as well as many other local non-profits in Thurston County. We were excited to have their help, which included salvaging thousands of plants.


TESC students hard at work on our farm fields.

Our group of student volunteers prepared the Lupinus albicaulis beds for winter, finishing the final fall weeding and cutting back dormant plant material. They weeded our Balsamorhiza deltoidea (Balsam Root) beds to be ready for winter mulching. Most impressively the students helped us salvage thousands of plants of Carex inops (Long Stolon Sedge) and Symphyotichum hallii (Hall's Aster) out of our production rows. Carex inops, a sedge species notoriously hard to start from seed, provides soil stabilization services in our prairies. As one might expect, the thousands of Carex inops plants salvaged on this volunteer day will add more of this important dry land sedge across Thurston County prairies. Students contributed to threatened species conservation on the farm as well, salvaging Symphotricum hallii for transplanting to aid in boosting the population of this uncommon aster. Later this season, these production rows are going to be turned under, to rotate the crops and change production strategies. The plants from these rows were root washed, bundled and packaged for easy out-planting by CNLM on Violet Prairie Preserve and our partners at Washington Department of Natural Resources and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife on Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s prairie lands.

Students washing and bundling salvaged plant material to send out to CNLM partners.

The work of our student volunteers benefited not just our farm program in fall preparations, their afternoon of work with us will benefit our local prairies and the species that depend on them for years to come. Harvesting plants both common and rare can provide future planting material to contribute to increasing local diversity and ensure a wild seed bank.