Science & Salvation: The Year of Citizen Science           

  
Landscape News: Watercourse Restoration     

Programs and Events: Winter Bounty

Lecture: Fiber Mills of Germantown           

  
Field Studies News: Head Start & Urban Agriculture     

Botanical Musings

From the Archives

Get Ready for Camp!

Volunteer Focus: Pollinators and Woodworkers   
            

Jonathan Greenberg Exhibit: papercuts

Philly Goat Project Update 

Chickens in Winter

Herbal Workshops

Science and Salvation: Confronting Reality with Hope in 2020, Year of Citizen Science

by Heather Zimmerman, Program Director

Several years ago, knowing my love of nature and science, my son gave me a book to read: Elizabeth Kolbert’s Pulitzer Prize-winning The Sixth Extinction: an Unnatural History. I love the book. I hate the book.

It is non-fiction. I want it to be fiction. It breaks my heart.

I wanted more of a David Suzuki and Holly Dressel read: Good News for a Change: How Everyday People are Helping the Planet (2003)—that sits on my bookshelf alongside titles by Jane Goodall and Wendell Berry—not the reality of The Sixth Extinction.

Nor am I ready to become a Roy Scranton fan— Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene:

“The biggest problem climate change poses isn’t how the Department of Defense should plan for resource wars, or how we should put up sea walls to protect Alphabet City, or when we should evacuate Hoboken. It won’t be addressed by buying a Prius, signing a treaty, or turning off the air-conditioning. The biggest problem we face is a philosophical one: understanding that this civilization is already dead. The sooner we confront this problem, and the sooner we realize there’s nothing we can do to save ourselves, the sooner we can get down to the hard work of adapting, with mortal humility, to our new reality.”

Participants at last year’s BioBlitz photo ©Brian Rudnick

SO–what to do? How do I live in the midst of mass extinction without giving up hope or sticking my head in the sand? Enter CITIZEN SCIENCE! It may not save the world, but it allows everyday people to engage in finding solutions and tracking change that might make a difference to our civilization’s new reality.

Citizen Science is the practice of public participation and collaboration in scientific research to increase scientific knowledge.  Citizen Science enables participants to make a direct contribution to research, to increase their scientific understanding, and to immerse themselves deeply afield in learning about environmental issues. Citizen Science may provide the opportunity for personally transformative experiences.

Participants at the 2019 BioBlast holding up their smartphones

In 2020, Awbury Arboretum is hosting many citizen science events for people of all ages to participate in and learn about for FREE. Come learn, enjoy, and help support scientific research to engage in caring for our earth and our fellow species.

To learn more about citizen science, including its scope and history, click here for National Geographic’s short article on the topic. For information about citizen science projects that Awbury will be hosting this year, click here.


Landscape News: Watercourse Restoration Moves Ahead

by Chris Van de Velde, General Manager

The previously announced project to restore our ponds and watercourse has begun! On December 18 we opened bids for this $336,000 project, and GreenUP Construction & Maintenance, Inc. of Philadelphia was awarded the contract to rebuild ponds and watercourse as a stormwater detention system to help alleviate flooding in the Chew Avenue-Washington Lane area.

Pond and watercourse, 1976

The Philadelphia Water Department is contributing $261,000 to this project as part of its City-wide initiatives to better manage stormwater retention and treatment. The project is also getting a $75,000 grant from the State Department of Community and Economic Development as part of its work to improve watersheds throughout the Commonwealth.

We cannot give you a precise schedule for the project work, given the vagaries of winter weather. However, we expect the primary physical work to be complete by April 1, and that we will be able to see the final result of the new grasses, shrubs and trees that will be installed as part of the project in the spring of 2021.

If you want to periodically watch the progress, here is the expected sequence for the physical work, although some of the work will be occurring simultaneously:

  1. Native cattails interspersed with invasive phragmites

    Removal of invasive vegetation and accumulated sediment;

  2. Spreading of the dredge material on the McNabbtown area;
  3. Installing the diversionary channel to keep water out of the restoration work area;
  4. Digging out the ponds to the increased depths for more water retention;
  5. Reshaping the pond and watercourse edges to more accurately reflect their historic design;
  6. Digging in the adjacent meadow to expose the clay that will be installed as the new “liner” material for the ponds;
  7. Moving the clay into the ponds;
  8. Backfilling the clay pit removal area and reseeding the meadow with native grasses;
  9. Installing new Washington Lane stormwater inlet connections and filter boxes;
  10. Installing the new outflow and connector system for overflow water; and
  11. Installing the new border area vegetation.

Pond in early 2019, choked with phragmites, an invasive grass

One added benefit of this project will be a McNabbtown area without the uneven ankle-twisting surface it now has. As mentioned above, some of the dredge material will be spread over much of the McNabbtown field. This procedure will mean we will lose programmatic use of the area for about a year as the dredge material dries out. But we will gain a more people-friendly area, and doing this reduces some project costs since we won’t have to pay to haul and dispose of the dredge material.


Programs and Events: Winter Bounty

by Heather Zimmerman, Program Director

Trees may have gone dormant and animals may be hibernating for the moment, but that doesn’t mean activity at Awbury stops for the winter! Some things to look forward to this season and moving toward spring:

January
1/20MLK Day of Service

1/26—rescheduled Great Backyard Bird Count Project

February
2/1camp registration opens

2/13—Lovestruck!: Herbal Love Potions with community herbalist Alyssa Schimmel

2/19—fundraiser for Awbury at Earth Bread & Brewery

March
3/1
—Native American-inspired Venison Dinner with Chef Sue Wasserkrug

3/19Spring Equinox Dinner with Weavers Way Chef Bonnie Shuman

3/21BudBurst: Citizen Science Event

April
4/4Longwood Community Read book groups; sci-fi novel Semiosis by Sue Burke; nonfiction Weird Plants by Chris Thorogood

4/5Art Reception with painter Andrew Christman in Cope House Galleries

4/11Welcome Spring! Easter Egg Hunt/ AdventureWoods Opens/Spring Blooming Bulbs Sale

4/24-27City Nature Challenge: an annual international happening by citizen scientists to survey the wildlife in their city

4/24—Awbury BioBlitz! Come bring your smartphones and the iNaturalist app to document natural species around the Arboretum

4/26Wild Spring Edibles & Tonics workshop with herbalist Alyssa Schimmel

Click here for more information on upcoming programs and events


Dinner Lecture on History of Germantown Fiber Mills

by Hideko Secrest, Leaflet Editor

On December 8 of last year, The Philadelphia Guild of Handweavers sponsored their final event for Awbury’s Year of Natural Fibers: a dinner lecture entitled “The History of Textile Production: Manayunk to Germantown” by Barbara Parman, a lecturer on textile production and the resident Guild historian. The dinner was catered by Weavers Way chef Bonnie Schuman.

Spinning demonstration

The evening began with bites of butternut squash crostini and a demonstration of spinning by Sara Robbins, PGHW Outreach Coordinator and Judy Donovan, who together coordinated all the workshops and classes for the Year of Natural Fibers.

Robbins introduced Parman, who took the floor with a lively and fast history of textile fibers through the ages, as well as slides of microscopic photos of fibers including bast, flax, jute, hemp, ramie, and artificial fibers. She then moved to our own local history, starting with the purchase of land for the German Township (now Germantown) by Francis Pastorius in 1683, and early linen production by 44 German families in the area who ran flax farms and set up mills on the Wissahickon Creek to weave the cloth.

Barbara Parman

By the 1790s, the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the mills featured total automation and the Wissahickon Creek was choked by over 50 dams that helped run the mills. In 1830, John Button moved from England and started a mill to make women’s hosiery. In 1831, William and Andrew McCallum came from Scotland and established a knitting mill.

In the 1800s, “Philadelphia became the textile center of the world,” said Parman. “By 1850, there were over 6000 textile workers…. In Manayunk, they dammed the Schuylkill, built a canal with locks to bring barges in, and sold the extra water to the mill owners.”

It was Eli Whitney’s invention of the cotton gin, claimed Parman, that brought about a huge change in textile production. The cotton gin “increased cotton production tenfold,” she said, and “Virtually all mills in 1800 became cotton mills, using cotton made with slave labor.” Germantown and Manayunk provided 77% of Great Britain’s cotton fabric and 90% of Russia’s. With the start of the Civil War in 1861, however, the cotton supply ended and the mills switched to wool.

From 1850 on, steam power brought change, allowing the mills to move away from the now heavily congested riverbanks, and in 1868, according to Parman, the Fairmount Park Commission abolished all water mills.

The early part of the twentieth century brought the beginning of the end of the Germantown textile boom. Many mills closed due to the Great Depression. Gradually, production moved away. “Here’s a truism in the textile industry: it always goes where you have the cheapest labor.” Parman paused. “It went south.”

Chef Bonnie Schuman (far right) with staff

Parman ended her lecture by telling her audience about the sole surviving working fabric mill in the area: Wayne Mills in Wayne Junction. She urged everyone to visit this fascinating artifact from 1910 for a guided tour.

After watching some short videos of working mills, the guests were treated to a feast provided by Weavers Way chef Bonnie Schuman, featuring tender halibut with leeks and shiitake, creamy polenta with shiitake and roast carrots, and finishing with a delectable cinnamon poached pear with vanilla ice cream.


Field Studies News: Head Start and Urban Agriculture

by Nancy Pasquier, Field Studies Director

Thanks to a few generous private donors, this school year Awbury started a new program with the Head Start program at Emlen Elementary School in Germantown. Emlen preschool students receive a monthly classroom visit and learn about various environmental topics including native animals, plant and animal adaptations and the seasons at Awbury.  The program includes 10 classroom visits and two visits to the Arboretum for approximately 40 students. The students (and teachers) are excited to learn more about the natural world through this opportunity. Our hope is to expand it to other Head Start programs in the Northwest, and we are currently looking for additional sponsorship. 

In addition, Awbury’s Field Studies programming has expanded to include Nutrition and Urban Agriculture lessons that will serve two local public schools’ students, Roosevelt Elementary’s 1st grade and A.B. Day Elementary’s Kindergarten and 1st grade. The program is coordinated with PA state standards and will include two classroom visits and two visits to Awbury’s Agricultural Village. The students will learn about nutrition through hands-on activities and preparing and eating food and will participate in farm activities including planting, maintaining and harvesting spring season crops. There will also be activities connected to Awbury’s chickens and partnering with the Philly Goat Project.


Botanical Musings

by Karen Flick, Landscape Manager

English ivy and poison ivy climbing the trunk

Pines with vines that twine, oh my!

The leaves have fallen; in winter we are surrounded by a transparent landscape. While the season brings about an exposure to the quiet nature of the urban forest around us, it also exposes aspects that harm our natural surroundings: I am talking about vines. Trees covered in green vines are quite evident this time of year. 

English ivy is one of the most well-known invasive vines that challenge our natural areas, but there are many others. Non-native vines have likely been brought to North America for their aesthetic features like abundant bright berries, quick growth, and resilience. All these factors have also put them on the invasive or noxious plant species lists by the United States Department of Agriculture. As participants in our natural surroundings, we can make an effort to control these vines. Winter is a great time to get a jump start on eradicating invasives before the growing season reaches us again.

Pulling the vines off the tree is not necessary, may cause more damage and can even be dangerous. Here are safer ways to target the list of noxious vines based on each vine’s growth habits.

Akebia choking a spicebush

Bittersweet, honeysuckle, & akebia:

These vines twine around their host, which is usually thin like sapling trees or low branches.

  • Cut these vines close to the ground, cut away loose hanging vines
  • These vines create a mat under trees

Mat of English ivy and creeping euonymus

Creeping euonymus & English ivy:

Both these have aerial roots, like hairs, which enable the vine to grow right up a tree trunk. They are found on all size trees and shrubs.

  • Remove a +1’ section of each vine from around the base of the tree trunk.
  • These vines also create a mat under trees

Porcelain berry & wild grape vines:

These two vines have tendrils, the curly thin stem commonly associated with vines. The tendrils hold wrap tightly around branches, securing the vine to grow further until the next tendril grabs a hold. They need smaller lower branches to advance; commonly seen growing from inside or along shrubs before they reach the trees.

  • Cut vines at the ground and, if the ground is thawed enough, try to dig out the section of root system that the vine is growing from.
  • Cut back as many reachable and loose vines as possible.

Additional thoughts:

  • Honeysuckle climbing a holly tree

    Look out for poison ivy mingled in with other vines. The difference will be in the coloring of the vine, since you may not see any leaves at this time of year. The poison ivy will be very red compared to the pale tan of other vines. It also may have some hairy aerial root clusters, or a vine fully covered in red aerial root hairs.

  • Careful not to damage bark or break limbs. This will cause unnecessary harm to the tree.
  • Helpful tools include a foldable hand saw, pruners, loppers, flat head screwdriver or something to get between the tree bark and vines.

These vines are woody plants. They will resume growth from the vines you see. If they are 30’ long, they will be starting at this height in the spring unless you can cut them off as described. Even though it can seem daunting, this is not at all an endless task. The best mindset we have at Awbury is to consider it part of an ongoing management plan. Getting the vines down to a reachable level is the first step. Disrupting their reproduction is next, along with exhausting the root systems. Last is monitoring for new vines and removing before they establish. If you do not have vines of your own to conquer and would like to volunteer and learn more, contact Karen Flick, KFlick@Awbury.org or click here to learn about ways to help in the Awbury Landscape.


From the Archives

by Alex Bartlett, Awbury Archivist and Curator

In honor of Awbury’s up-and-coming pond restoration, here is a 1976 photograph from the collections of the Archives of the Awbury Arboretum Association, of the pond after its last complete restoration. The design of the 1975-1976 restoration was executed by Tourbier, Westmacott Associates.  The photograph shows the completed restoration; however, grass had not yet grown in around the pond following the restoration.

The lower pond in 1976

It is interesting that, given the prominence and beauty of the pond, very few photographs of it dating to before World War II exist in Awbury’s Archives. Descendants of Francis Cope have donated hundreds of photographs of Awbury to the Archives over the years, but only a handful of them capture images of the pond, and then only in the background.

During the 2020 restoration of the pond, I will make regular visits to the pond to photo-document this latest pond restoration. Digital photographs taken of the construction will be posted on social media, and printouts will be made of the images to ensure the photographs’ survival for future generations. These will be housed in the Archives.

Are you aware of any old photographs of the pond, particularly those pre-dating World War II? If so, we would love to know about them! On a more general level, we are always interested in any item you have documenting the history of Awbury. Please contact me at abartlett@awbury.org, (215)849-2855 x16 to share any details you might have.


Get Ready for Camp!

Even though summer is still months away, it’s not too early to start thinking about camp! Awbury Adventures offers outdoor fun, unplugged, for children from ages 6-13. Whether your child wants to romp with Forest Creatures, craft or cook with Nature Foragers, compete for survival in Camp Katniss or Advanced Wilderness Survival, or learn the mysterious magical arts at Ilvermorny Camp for Witchcraft & Wizardry, there is a camp especially for them!

To learn more, please click here. Don’t miss out! Reserve your child’s spot on February 1st!


Volunteer Focus: Pollinators and Woodworkers

by Karen Flick, Landscape Manager

Awbury volunteers have always embraced the opportunity to get outside, to get their hands dirty, and to use their skills for Awbury’s needs. They not only aid in landscape maintenance and improvements, but also in planning and connecting people to Awbury. Volunteer opportunities include participating in the MLK Jr Day of Service, monthly workdays in the Food Forest, helping at our free community events each season, and much more. In this issue, we would like to highlight two of our Volunteer Groups, the Pollinators and the Woodworkers. These individuals dedicate their knowledge and talents to Awbury on a weekly basis.

Pollinator Habitat Gardeners

Pollinator Garden

In the Agricultural Village, for over six years a group of volunteers has enthusiastically overseen the Awbury Pollinator Habitat Garden. The Pollinator Habitat is a demonstration garden, teaching visitors about the assortment of plants that provide ideal habitat features for our pollinating insects. Plants range from small flowering plants to the adjacent towering tulip trees. These plants have been identified by experts, like entomologists and ecologists, as optimum in providing our pollinating insects with the necessary resources to survive like food and shelter.

The Awbury Pollinator Habitat Gardeners, also called the Pollinators, are comprised of both Master Gardeners and passionate individuals who work together to plan and maintain these plants. They grasp the duty of teaching the general public about providing these resources in their own yards. Each year in the Garden, they make plans about the most valuable plants to incorporate, their ideal location in the display, and they provide for their survival by weeding and watering. They also work together to provide information to visitors of the garden, including tours, plant labels, and a map with a list of the plants.

Another volunteer pollinator

In 2019, the Hardy Plant Society recognized the efforts of the Pollinators and awarded a grant expanding the area to include a native hedge habitat. Native plants are specific species that have evolved with the local fauna and insects in this southeastern corner of Pennsylvania. This makes them ideal in providing for the basic needs of the co-evolved insects.

The Pollinators worked all season to clear the area, installed a dense layer of woodchips and cardboard to suppress weeds, and planted a variety of shrubs. These plants include serviceberry, winterberry hollies, choke cherries, and much more. To visit the Pollinator Habitat, go to the Awbury Agricultural Village at 6336 Ardleigh Street and follow the pedestrian map to the center area. Visitors can find the Awbury Pollinator Garden, and Native Hedge adjacent to the greenhouses. Visit throughout the seasons to learn from this dedicated group and enjoy the progression of blooms, butterflies, bees and other pollinating insects or click here for a map to the Pollinator Garden.

Awbury Woodworkers

Chew Avenue entrance to Awbury last year

It is no surprise that maintaining an Arboretum requires woodworking skills. So many features throughout the landscape entail creating, building, and rehabbing with wood, all with a great deal of creativity and resourcefulness. The Awbury Woodworkers came together like most groups with an excitement and common interest, then grew. While it is hard to pinpoint exactly when the Awbury Woodworkers formed, we cannot express how glad we are that they are here.

The completed kiosk

The Woodworkers meet weekly from spring until the Greens Sale. They collaborate with the Landscape Team in doing everything from building picnic tables and benches, to pergolas, to raised beds, to golf cart trailers, birdhouses, and so much more. One such project is Awbury’s new kiosk at the entrance on Chew Avenue. The kiosk is now a resource for daily visitors to keep up to date on events and to view the map of the landscape and immediate area.

Birdhouse with tree swallow

In 2019, Awbury addressed the woodworkers’ needs by providing a woodworking shed. We look forward to continuing to build upon these resources to keep making the improvements like the kiosk and the fully occupied birdhouses each year. The Awbury Woodworkers are a creative and resourceful group that has embraced the wood supply around them. Their talents are clearly seen in the white birch candle holders and barn wood coasters sold at the Holiday Greens Sale fundraiser. If this is sounds right up your alley, keep an eye out for postings of the 2020 group meet-ups and additional woodworking classes.

It is no small effort to recognize one’s own interests and talents, but it takes an honorable person to then share those gifts as a volunteer. This kind of dedication and effort make a Community. Awbury greatly appreciates and wants to acknowledge the above-and-beyond efforts of the volunteers listed below. We look forward to continuing to work and grow together, as well as welcoming new volunteer members.

Woodworkers George Flick and Adam Housman

Pollinator Gardeners:
Adam Eyring
Cecilia Dougherty
Leslie Cerf
Marty Hudson
Nancy Stedman
Roselyn Purnell
Sharon Smith

Woodworkers:
George Flick
Marie Monique Marthol
Nassem Baksh


Jonathan Greenberg Exhibit: papercuts

by Hideko Secrest, Leaflet Editor

Artist Jonathan Greenberg

Our most recent art exhibit in the Cope Gallery closed at the end of December, but it is well worth recapping. Jonathan Greenberg, an art teacher who has worked in the Philadelphia School District and has just retired from the Collingswood, NJ School District, started his love affair with papercutting while teaching screen printing in his classrooms. He had his students cut their stencils out of freezer paper.

It wasn’t until 2011, however, that this love took off. He was broke and he wanted to make a gift for his sister for Hanukkah and he had a book on the Polish art of papercutting, called Wycinanki [VEE-chee-non-key]. After studying it, he made his first attempts and then, in his own words, “I just kept at it.”

Papercut done in Wycinanki style

He found strict adherence to the rules of Wycinanki a little constraining: “Pretty quickly, I found the symmetry to be limiting and a little boring. I also limited [the wild intense] colors of Wycinanki,” instead preferring a more natural palette.

He compared screen printing to paper cutting in their common reliance on precision. “I’m a plodder,” he laughed, “Even though [the cutting] can be tedious, I like it. I keep at it. I just like making things.”

He hadn’t planned to be an artist at all; in college, Greenberg started out majoring in marine biology. “I took a year of chemistry and almost had a nervous breakdown…. At that time, I started doodling in paint, then I started taking ceramics. Then I hurt my back working in a cannery and switched my major to art.”

The Jackpine

In his artist presentation at the Exhibit Opening on Sunday, October 20, he talked mainly about his process. He claims he is “always inspired by the natural world.” He went into detail about his cut paper collage entitled “The Jackpine”: “I worked in fishing boats in college. That image has been with me for years. I was trying to capture the memory; I wasn’t going for realism—I was going for symbolism. I wanted it to be surreal, dreamlike.” The numbers in the sea represent nautical readings, and he cites Hokusai’s “The Great Wave” and Austrian painter Friedensreich Hundertwasser’s “Antipode Island” as his influences for this work.

Ravens and foxglove

My personal favorite was a depiction of two ravens, one perched near some foxglove, and the other on a distant pine, in silhouette. The layers of paper evoked the feathers of the closer raven and emphasized the sculptural quality of the drooping cups of the flowers, while the downward sweeping branches of the evergreen were counterbalanced by the raised wings of the far raven, either alighting or in the process of taking off. Greenberg estimated that a work like that took well over 100 hours of designing, painting, cutting, and gluing.

In case you missed the show, you can view his works on his website, here.


Philly Goat Project Update

by Karen Krivit, Philly Goat Project Director

Roosevelt School 7th graders photo courtesy of Jessica Kourkounis

Philly Goat Project has enjoyed a ton of press these days: everyone is loving our goats! We are so excited that the goats bring attention to the amazing opportunities that are offered at Awbury as well.

State Rep Chris Rabb with Karen Krivit

This month our internship program with the three local 7th grades was awarded a small grant from the PA Department of Agriculture to fund our year-long project focused on encouraging city kids to consider jobs in agriculture, environmentalism and animal care. State Representative Chris Rabb also came personally to PGP to congratulate us on receiving this grant.

Sharon and Sienna

Baby Joy snacking on a Christmas tree

Finally, a shout-out to our amazing mother/daughter volunteer team: Sharon and Sienna who made sure that everyone who attended the Christmas Tree Recycling event on 1/11/20 had cookies and hot cocoa. We had a huge turnout and have so many trees for our goats to enjoy during the winter months. The goats eat the needles off of the trees and it keeps them eating green through March!

PGP usually has free community walks around the Arboretum or other partner sites each month. Look out for a goat play area this spring in AdventureWoods!

For our monthly calendar of events and walks, please see our website.


Chickens in Winter: Our Fowl-Weather Friends

by Hideko Secrest, Leaflet Editor

Awbury’s resident flock

So, you are aware of Awbury’s goats—did you know we also have chickens? Yes, in the heart of the Agricultural Village there is a chicken coop containing a dozen clucking, pecking, roosting residents. The flock is tended by Petra Brauer, the self-proclaimed “Chicken Caretaker of Awbury.”

Brauer, a native of Germany, originally trained as a pediatric nurse and midwife, emigrated to the United States at age 28, got married, and raised a family. Now she runs a daycare and a summer camp from her house, which is located conveniently on the grounds of the Arboretum near the Ag Village. Initially, she was drawn to the goats at the Philly Goat Project, but she soon became interested in the chickens being raised by the Teen Leadership Corps (TLC). Those chickens were dispersed when TLC disbanded for the season, but Brauer petitioned General Manager Chris Van de Velde to be allowed to raise chickens at Awbury. When she got the green light, she purchased a new flock of chicks and set about enlarging and improving the coop with the help of a couple of volunteers.

The chickens as juveniles this past summer

“It’s really amazing how little people know about chickens,” commented Brauer, who is a novice at raising chickens herself. “I wanted to introduce different breeds to the community,” she said, as a reason for the variety of birds she tends. So far, the flock contains blue cochins, ameraucanas, australorps, a Rhode Island red, a leghorn, and a brabanter, the one (accidental) rooster, who gave away his gender when he started practicing crowing as an adolescent.

She recalls her young charges fretting about the rooster: “The kids cannot understand why the rooster was not laying eggs!” She brings the children to visit the chickens almost every day; despite their confusion about the rooster, they are “my little chicken pros.”

Petra Brauer’s daughter Vita holding Prudence

In addition to enlarging the enclosure, Brauer has reinforced it, including fencing that goes below ground level to deter digging predators. For winter, she has insulated it with thick felt blankets folded double and a heat lamp. At night, all the chickens roost together on their nesting boxes and she shuts the coop up tight to keep out foxes and raccoons. “It’s like Fort Knox,” she joked.

“What are you looking at?”

Most chickens lay their eggs early in the morning. “My chickens do not,” said Brauer; they prefer to do their laying in the afternoon. Right now they’re averaging 3-7 eggs a day: “The little ones collect the eggs and I give them all away to volunteers.” She noted that, “By the summer, they should be in full production.”

So come on over to the Ag Village and make the acquaintance of Awbury’s flock. If you would like to volunteer with the chickens, Brauer’s contact information is posted on the coop. Who knows?  If you lend a hand, you just might get a fresh-laid egg.


Herbal Workshops for All

Herbs are beautiful plants that contain oils with many uses—culinary, medicinal, and therapeutic. Awbury will be offering workshops and classes throughout 2020 introducing the uses of many common herbs for the kitchen and the home medicine cabinet. Below are four workshops which will be taught by Alyssa Schimmel. Click here for more information or to register. Each workshop costs $30, or $100 for all four.

Lovestruck: herbs to excite the heart and senses—Thursday, February 13, 7-9pm at the Cope House

Join us for a sensual evening of exploration, as we open the door into the realm of herbal aphrodisiacs. Named for the goddess Aphrodite, aphrodisiacs are substances that when ingested or applied to the human body have the ability to increase libido, desire, or pleasure. We will discuss 7 herbs for the home apothecary and preparation methods for creating an infused herbal cordial and massage oil. Each participant will leave with a 1-ounce cordial and 2-ounce massage oil.

Wild spring edibles and tonics—Sunday, April 26, 10am-noon in the Ag Village

Embrace spring’s sweep of emergent growth in this workshop on spring’s wild edibles and medicinals. We’ll go for a plant walk through Awbury Arboretum’s Agricultural Village, learning about the most common wild weeds that work to support respiratory health, stimulate digestion, and support springtime cleansing of the body, then return to the classroom to make a wild spring seasoning blend and infused herbal vinegar. Participants will leave with their own creations.

Honey medicine, elixirs, and oxymels—Saturday July 18, 10am-noon in the Ag Village

Honeybees (Apis mellifera) have been revered for centuries as natures’ alchemists, pollinating nearly 90% of the world’s food crops and producing one of the only foods in nature that never spoils—honey! In this workshop, we’ll cover the lore, life, and plight of the honeybee and the powerful medicine they so divinely create—honey, beeswax, propolis, and pollen. We’ll then sample a few herbal preparations involving these products and make an oxymel: a honey-vinegar syrup, that participants will take home.

Slather it on! A skin-salvation workshop—Saturday Sept. 19, 10am-noon in the Ag Village

Skin is our largest organ of the body that provides boundary, protection, absorption, heat control, and sensation. In this workshop we’ll revere the skin we’re in by learning about its structure and function and how we can work to protect it through natural oils and herbs. We’ll learn about several herbs that provide support for the skin, wound healing, and repair, covering the methods of creating fresh plant poultices and salves. Participants will leave with tins of their own salves crafted for their unique needs.


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