Learn to identify native plants, remove invasive species that threaten them and harvest materials for crafting at the same time!
What do English Ivy, Himalayan Blackberry, and Scotch Broom have in common? They are all plants from other countries that are taking over our yards, parks and forests. They make it impossible for native plants to get the water and sunlight they need and the only creatures that like them are rats!
This week, my daughter and I went for a walk in our local camas meadow, pulled some ivy that is threatening it, and are making a basket with the ivy for berry picking. Want to join us in any of these activities? My First Nations family members have traditionally made baskets with Western Red Cedar (known as Xpey in Hul'q'umi'num and XP in SENĆOŦEN), but Cedar trees aren't growing so well these days because of climate change, so we wanted to give them a break and use invasive plants instead.
We were inspired by this how-to video, but we are using ivy instead of trailing blackberry - its safer, easier and better for our ecosystem. Unlike blackberry, no tools or gloves are needed for working with Ivy!
For those of you missing the feeling of doing something physical that makes your local community better, talk to your family about getting outside to wack some of these weeds. I promise you will feel so much better :)
For more videos, photos and instructions, click on "Read More" below :)
If you go to Beacon Hill Park in April / May, you may see a carpet of blue and purple flowers, called Camas. They are extremely beautiful and provide a unique habitat for lovely and endangered butterflies, bees, birds and other creatures. My local mental health oasis is the camas meadow at Summit Park, but there is likely one near you. They have been created by Songhees, Esquimalt and other Lekwungen-speaking meadow keepers over centuries and they used to cover much more of what we now call Victoria. Find out why!
Now Ivy, broom, gorse, blackberry and other invasive species are taking over, but we can help - watch the video below to find out how!
Once you have pulled Ivy or cut other invasive species, DO NOT compost them - they will regrow and contaminate any soil you put your compost into. Let them dry out in a pile or you can even make stuff with some of them. Check out what one artist is doing in this video...
If your family is concerned about the Himalayan Blackberry that has invaded everywhere, they can buy some garden gloves and clippers or even better, loppers like the ones we have at school to cut them down. Remember, tools are not toys - these blades can be very dangerous if not respected, so only use with your parent / guardians' permission and under their direct supervision. Staying 2 meters apart when cutting blackberry keeps you safe not just from Covid but also from getting scratched or cut by mistake by someone else. As a family activity however, it can be very satisfying to free other plants from blackberry, and here is a video of what you can do with it...
Students cut a bunch of blackberry from the Shoreline school forest - you can see all the native Horsetail plants coming back, which is a plant that can also be used to make dye for wool and felting!
Teaches the Sustainability Exploratory class at Shoreline Middle School.
Sustainability = the ability to survive and thrive... over time!
In this class we learn how to keep healthy through ensuring we have access to clean air, water, food, shelter, medicine, community, education, materials, energy, governance...