Ecology is the study of plants and animals and their relationship with the environment. Winter ecology is simply studying the relationship of plants and animals in the winter. Signs of wildlife in winter are sparse and often subtle, but to the trained eye, they tell a rich story of survival. At the Vermont Institute of Natural Science in Woodstock, the study of our natural environment continues through Vermont's winter months. Teachers come to the Institute in winter to learn how to use outdoor activities to help their students develop a better understanding of their environment. We spent some time recently at the Institute with a group of teachers to learn a little about the world around us in winter.
Taking a walk in the woods can be more than just a time to experience the pretty sights and sounds of nature. The outdoors is a treasure trove of wild plants that are not only good to eat but can be used for medicinal purposes. The trick is to know what you are picking before you eat it. Host Marianne Eaton joins wild edibles expert Colleen Jones at Merck Forest and Farmland Center for their Wild Edibles Walk that culminates in a wild edible luncheon.
- Colleen Jones, 802-375-6441
- Merck Forest & Farmland Center
|Colleen Jones' Dandelion Linguini (Crock-Pot Recipe)|
2 lbs dandelion greens
Invasive exotic plant species can be found throughout Vermont. The list of plants is long and includes the water chestnut, purple loosestrife, flowering rush and Eurasian milfoil. Not native to the state, they have no natural predators and therefore thrive, pushing out native plants and destroying habitat for animals. Fortunately, groups like the Nature Conservancy have programs to control some of these species. Each summer these groups gather volunteers to pull invasive water chestnuts from East Creek in Shoreham. We accompany Nature Conservancy staff and volunteers as they head out to East Creek and its mouth at Lake Champlain to pull invasive plants.
For many outdoorsmen, spring in Vermont is like Christmas morning for a 5-year-old kid. You anticipate it for months, and when it finally arrives you want to jump right in with both feet. And there's a lot to enjoy. The spring woods have much to offer and the fishing is the best of the year. For at least one Vermonter, the perfect spring day is a morning spent picking morel mushrooms followed by an afternoon of casting to native brook trout. Morel pickers can be as secretive about their spots as upland bird hunters are about their favorite woodcock covers. So it was a real treat when my good friend Leighton Wass invited us to share with him a perfect spring day.
Almost everyone is familiar with wild edibles, such as berries and fiddleheads, yet our region is home to dozens of species of wild edibles that are far more flavorful and nutritious than what you could buy in your local grocery store. These plants are nature’s organics and can be found right in your own backyard. So join us as we embark on a foraging adventures and learn to identify the delicacies founding Nature’s larder.
For centuries various plant species have been imported from other countries as ornamentals for various landscaping projects. They may look great when manicured by a landscaper but when these plants are spread into the wild they can become extremely invasive, out-competing native plants, increase erosion along stream banks, and provide less nutritious food and insufficient cover for wildlife. To help combat the spread and promote awareness of invasive plants the Nature Conservancy has developed a program to get us all “Wise on Weeds”
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