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Under cold, wet and windy conditions, 11 volunteers made history on Saturday December 1 during a final gathering at Badger. They assembled with a single purpose in mind: to sow bagfuls of native prairie seed onto a site that had been prepared for this occasion. We called it the “Big Plant.”
Native prairie seeds that had been collected over two seasons were “laid to rest” in the stubble of what is dubbed the “dead zone,” a patch of land adjoining the Prairie Hillside that had been mowed and sprayed with herbicide for an entire season in 2016. That level of site preparation was necessary to kill the impenetrable thicket of perennial invasive species that had overwhelmed the plot. In late 2016, annual wheat and rye were sown into the bare soil to hold the soil and to reduce competition from weeds.
We had hoped to do a fall 2017 planting following a late autumn burn by DNR, but DNR was never able to undertake their prescribed burn. The site was, however, burned in spring 2018, What weeds grew there over the summer were brush cut in late summer.
Finally the time had come… and none too soon! With winds howling and slushy snow flying, our volunteers wasted no time emptying four large binfuls of seed representing 70 native species that were sown across the 1/2-acre site. Hooray! Now we can rest, awaiting germination in the spring and a diverse prairie landscape some years down the road.
Thanks to our dedicated corps of volunteers for their efforts! Special thanks to Grace Vosen (center of photo) for her seed collecting during the 2016 season and for leading our planting party.