In their initial grant application, they proposed to increase the biodiversity on the farm through planting and maintaining a native fruit and nut grove. They proposed that they would plant 10 Paw Paws, 10 American Hazelnut, 5 Persimmon, and 5 American Chestnut. Since this plan centered on the idea of creating a living, native, edible ecosystem, they also included mushrooms and wildflowers in the project. They proposed to purchase 11 pounds of both Wood Blewit and Bleu Foot mushrooms and to purchase native wildflower seeds from a local vendor. These flowers would provide habitat for pollinators and fill the space in the understory while the trees are growing.
They started by clearing a 100’ by 50’ section of scrub undergrowth to the West of their field.
Initially, they were planning on planting the trees and wildflowers in the spring, but underestimated the amount of time it would take to clear the plot of scrubby undergrowth and prepare the soil for planting trees. They decided to prioritize the usual spring tasks necessary for vegetable production and utilize volunteers throughout the season to effectively prepare the plot for a late autumn planting, after the trees had gone dormant for the season. This process included clearing wild grape that was taking over the area, limbing downed scrub trees, and piling branches and brush into a hugelkultur inspired mound. Then, they used an auger to drill holes where the trees would go.
They ordered trees from Cold Stream Farm, based out of Freesoil, Michigan. They arrived on 11/20/2017, and they planted them 11/21/2017. Blandford utilized chicken wire to fashion cages around the trees, in an attempt to prevent rabbits from stripping their bark over the winter.
Blandford Nature Center ended up planting 5 American Hazelnut, 5 American Chestnut, 5 Persimmon and 10 Paw Paw. The total spent was $169.82.
Because the tree planting was delayed, the introduction of native wildflowers and mushrooms to the space was also delayed. They have their sources lined up and a timeline for incorporating the wildflowers and mushrooms into the native plant plot in 2018. Blandford will be purchasing Wood Blewit and Bleu Foot spores from Field and Forest products. The total investment will be $100 for 11lbs of each type. They will be planted in the spring and do not require a log for their spawn, instead preferring to be layered between compost and mulch materials such as wood chips and straw. Since they saved costs on the tree order, the remaining funds will go towards high-quality compost to create an ideal environment for the mushrooms. As the plot is monitored during the winter season, they also anticipate purchasing more protective structures for the trees to ensure a successful planting project.
Wildflower seed packets from Nature and Nurture Seeds, a Midwest genotype provided by Michigan Wildflower Farm, will be purchased at $4.95 a packet. They will plant 20 packets, for a total investment of $99 + shipping. Native wildflowers require a “cold stratification” or cold treatment before they will germinate.