Posted in Behind the Scenes

Follow up of attending my first Conservation Commission meeting.

As I noted before, I did finally attend a local Conservation Commission meeting, and in doing so found myself volunteering to help share some plants with a homeowner that inadvertently removed plants he didn’t know he shouldn’t because part of his land was in a protected flood zone.  Not a “you’ll flood every year” sort of flood zone, but what’s known here as a Q3 “100 year flood” zone.  You’d think there’d be some law stating sellers of homes should make sure buyers know about that sort of thing…I guess it’s more expected that folks will inform themselves about such.  I remember after I heard about one legendary Gardner flood, and soon found myself well acquainted with the OLIVER map which helped us strike a few homes off our house search possibles.

I had stayed after that meeting to do said volunteering, and once I mentioned the rewilding we were trying to let happen, the Conservation Agent seemed quite supportive of whatever we could figure out based on what turned out to be useful in such a situation to help the homeowner with plant replacement.

To be honest, I was a bit nervous about mentioning the rewilding.  Since the first time I’d met the Conservation Agent while at City Hall when I had inquired about rain garden code as well as naturalization, I’d heard a story about another household here that had been doing amazing permieculture work with their land, but some trouble arose from neighbor complaints because of that.   (I don’t recall if it was the usual tick fear brigade or what.)  Gardner really doesn’t have rules against this sort of thing, and that particular neighborhood was way over on the richer side of town, but I know how sometimes good intentions can lead to unintended consequences.  It’s also why we’ve tried to keep the “front of house”, so to speak, more typical orderly than the sides and rear of the property.

Yeah, we're way behind in management this year.

A few e-mails later, one of which included one of my Office View pics to make completely sure he knew what he was in for with his visit, and the day arrived.

That same Conservation Agent came by, and we had a nice visit.  By then I had learned to ID some of the tree saplings we have, as well as their likely parents on the grounds.  He was excited about what we’re doing here, but warned me the homeowner hadn’t followed up with him so he had no idea of whether my notion would ever lead to anything.   We both marveled at the one swamp oak sapling I had discovered as well, given our location.

The visit was great because it was calming in a way to have someone from City Hall be totally cool with everything we have been doing and supportive in our efforts as well.  He helped me ID some plants of the good variety (including the new volunteer grape that showed up this year, and two different cherry tree saplings) as well as spotting one unpleasant surprise (I had no idea of the Japanese Knotweed hidden under a young thickly branched oak sapling.  From the canes, it’s been there at least two years if not three.  Ugh.)  I also shared things with him as well, and we both lamented the spread of the Oriental Bittersweet in particular here in town.  (I think I’ve mentioned there’s more work to be done to eradicate the plants that share the border between us and our neighbor to the east.  Apparently critters have also spread some seed because it’s sprung up in the safety glass bed as well.)

I hadn’t heard back from him since then, but I figured I would catch up with him at the next meeting which already happened, and I did catch up with him there.

That meeting was a lot different because I was a bit late (I had confused the start time in my head); they didn’t have as many visitors dealing with business on the agenda (possibly none because I was the sole non-Commission person there when I arrived; and I haven’t had time to check the minutes yet to see what I missed), and the Committee pretty much burned through what they had left on their agenda.  The only time I felt need to ask a question was when they were talking about some tree donations that had recently been planted, so I didn’t really slow them down either.

I did learn an awful lot, though, about things I didn’t even know existed in Gardner.  There’s a group that does trail cleanups around the one pond here.  And speaking of ponds, we have so many that I hadn’t yet learned about.  So when some of the names of places and ponds and dams were tossed about, I couldn’t scribble fast enough.

I’ve been trying to learn more geography of the area.  It’s been hard to make time, though.  I’ve joked about finding a map of the Greater Gardner Are as its called, and leaving it in the bathroom so I can learn in quick studies block by block on the grid most maps have.

Getting back to the end of the meeting though, unfortunately, when I stayed to ask him the status of things, he said he still hadn’t heard back from the homeowner, so he had no update on the matter.  The next meeting is coming up next Monday, and I plan to be there.

Even if that doesn’t go anywhere, I’m learning a lot by going, and I’m also starting to think of ways I might be able to participate with some of the groups and such that are already in place.  I did also confirm at that meeting that Gardner does not have a Garden Club.

Related, there is another person I have spoken with on the phone thanks to my offer of free lilies, and one of the things we spoke of then was the lack of Garden Club, and my interest in maybe starting one.  That person is currently visiting family across country, so when she gets back I’ll see if that develops further or not.  It’s one thing to talk about such, it’s very different to get things in motion.

I’ve since wondered if I should broaden it to be more a general Nature Club to leave some crossover possibilities with folks that are into birding or various insect watch programs that are available to participate in through the web nowadays.  I had the notion to broaden the scope when I was reading somewhere about how there aren’t as many Amateur Natural Scientists anymore.  How watching wildlife and the world they live in used to be a fairly regular hobby, but now has fallen to the wayside in favor of other leisure activities.

Time will tell what happens with me starting a club or not.  In the meantime, I plan to keep attending the meetings as I can, and some day might be able to help out in some fashion or another.

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