Monday June 13th
Today was the last day of field work for Burlington Parks and Rec. It was a perfect June day in one of the most interesting parks we’ve visited yet. The Arms Grant Property abuts Rock Point, the Burlington Bike Path, and Burlington High School. It is a Rich Northern Hardwoods with limestone outcrops and a wide diversity of flora and fauna. The forest is minimally infested with invasive species and it was a pleasure to wander around the woods, listening to the birds, and finding wildflowers. We found common buckthorn growing throughout the forest, with multiflora rose, Norway maple, goutweed, and honeysuckle growing along the edges. Hopefully Burlington Parks and Rec will find the funding and time to get a crew into the forest to cut down the invasives and save this beautiful community resource!
Ah, our first office day writing the Burlington Parks and Rec report. Fortunately the weather was cold and rainy so we didn’t mind staying inside. We divided the report into sections; parks overview, natural communities, maps, recommendations, etc and all plugged away at different parts. At lunch we had the glazed eyes of those who have been staring hard into a computer, but spirits were high and creativity flowing. The GIS mapping ended up taking longer than expected, so the report was not quite finished by the end of the day, but it will be easy to finish up when we come back to it in a couple of weeks.
Wednesday June 15th
Today was a historic day! The first ever Whole Farm Assessment report started by LANDS. A Whole Farm Assessment is a way to quantify the entire value of a farming operation by looking at the ecosystem, community, and conservation services the farm produces. These services could be anything from carbon sequestration, to building a local economy, to soil conservation. They are critical to the well being of any farming operation but are not reflected in the economic profit of the farm and are easily over looked. Our job in this new project is to evaluate all the non-economic services the farm is providing and make recommendations about how they can be increased.
We are working with the Rockville Market Farm, in Starksboro Vermont. It is 108 acres, 25 of which are cultivated, in a beautiful agrarian valley. It is a mixed vegetable CSA farm with chickens, pigs, sheep, and goats. We got a tour of the farm this afternoon from Eric and Keenann Rozendaal who own the farm. We were all excited to see their chicken tractor, which we nick-named the chicken spaceship, filled with beautiful, clucking chickens.
We learned all about the terrible flooding which has put the farm two months behind schedule, the role of greenhouses in a diversified farm, and how the Amish make the most innovative farming equipment available. We happened upon the strawberry patch half way through our tour, and we all reveled in fresh-off-the-plant berries in the warm June sun. Life doesn’t get any better than that.
Thursday June 16th
`Today was our day for field work at the Rockville Community Farm. We divided the team into three groups to work on the natural, community and cultivated capital of the farm. The natural capital group looked at the forests, streams, and hedge rows around the farm to investigate what services the ecosystem was providing. The community capital group looked at the relationships the farm has with it consumers and neighbors and how it could be a center for learning and innovation. The cultivated capital group looked at the production side of farming, what infrastructure they used and how they could improve their farming practices.
It was another beautiful June day and we all enjoyed exploring around the farm, checking out the pigs, chillin by the stream, and interviewing the farmers. A particular treat for the community group was a visit by Reese, a UVM PhD student who studies story mapping. He showed us all sorts of different types of story maps and gave the group a lot of great ideas about how to make theirs of the farm.
All the groups were able to finish their field work today and are set to start writing the report!
Friday June 17th
Today we went out to the Rockville Market Farm for the last time, to do some service work. We spent two hours weeding salad mix to give back to the farm that has been so generous to us. It was a cool, cloudy day, perfect for doing field work! We all enjoyed the peaceful, methodical job, and an opportunity to chat and joke around with each other. At noon we drove back to the office, sad to say goodbye to the beautiful farm and the friendly dogs.
Back at the office we had time to work on our projects, typing up notes, consolidating ideas, and tying up the pieces until we are able to write the report, a week and half from now.