Story of the Week 6/28/2016
Earth Week Garlic Mustard Pull
By Liz Bourguet, Native Plants Land Manager at Green Mountain College
Green Mountain College has a celebration during the week of Earth Day every year and a Garlic Mustard Pull was my big event this season. I had been looking forward to getting outside with volunteers all winter and it was a chance to get students out of the classrooms and into their beautiful backyard: the Green Mountain College Natural Areas. We have a serious problem with garlic mustard, an invasive herbaceous plant, in the Natural Areas, particularly in the floodplain forest. Garlic mustard will crowd out native plants and is very hard to manage with a crew of just two student workers and myself. So for two days, I invited the entire campus to pull garlic mustard with me.
With the help of my site supervisor, I gave each new group of volunteers a background to invasive species, why we manage them in the Natural Areas and (importantly!) how to identify garlic mustard. Garlic mustard is edible and one professor brought pesto that she had made from garlic mustard she pulled in her backyard. We had beautiful spring weather both days and I loved having people out in the sunshine, learning, bonding and getting their hands dirty. When we weren’t pulling, we were appreciating the many things other than invasives in the Natural Areas, like native wildflowers and trees.
Over the two days, we had 87 volunteers pull over 7,500 garlic mustard plants. We really knocked back the garlic mustard and it saved the Natural Areas Crew a lot of time and effort that we were able to put towards controlling other invasives. This was the biggest volunteer event of my service and I was so happy to raise awareness of what the Natural Areas Crew does, raise awareness of invasive species and to get people out in the Natural Areas to appreciate this unique part of the college campus!
Photo credit: Eric Hudiburg, Green Mountain College