Adopted Field

Adopt-A-Field

Adoption is challenging work. We have adopted the Sears Field in Weston and we are reclaiming it for the life of pollinating insects. All are invited to clear these invasive plants so that in year three of our five-year project we can begin to plant the plants that are good for the pollinators. Join us to work hard, release some energy on the invasive plants, have an enjoyable time, friendly conversation, and good refreshments. Navigate to 27 Crescent Street and park at the Malone Homestead. See the link on this page for a parking map.
 
 

 

Conservation Team Fundraising

We are developing plans to launch a fundraising initiative to generate broad support from organizations and individuals to underwrite the direct expenses of reclaiming and rejuvenating the Sears Field to make it into a paradise for pollinators. If we're wonderfully successful, we'll realize the vision of a lush paradise that provides a platform for learning about the plants, animals, and insects that enliven and rely upon preserved open spaces.  

WW Rotary Conservation Team Launches Adopt-a-Field Project

More Funds Needed to Fuel the Work!

The Weston Wayland Adopt a Field effort is underway, and what a beautiful thing it is!

Led by new WW Rotary club member Charlie Hamlin, Katya Portnaya, and a team of five other newly minted Rotarians, Weston Wayland Rotary has adopted the Sears field (located at 34 Crescent Street) from the town of Weston Conservation Commission (WCC). Sears field is one of 25 fields in need of care, so “adopting” it eases budgetary and labor demands for the WCC.

“The Adopt-a-Field program fits perfectly with the Rotary motto of ‘service above self' said WW Rotary President Paul Lualdi. “Our goal is to involve as many community members as want to participate in conservation projects; that we hope will reverse the damage done and then preserve our natural environment for generations to come.”

The first step in the “adoption” process is a major cleanup of invasive species that have spread throughout the field. Removal has been underway since late June, with team members working diligently over many days, nights, and weekends to remove the plants and reclaim the field’s boundaries. The work is fun but arduous, with team members using chainsaws, oversized hedge clippers, and other professional-grade tools to accomplish the work.

Once the team removes all the invasive plants—which is expected to take another month or two—they will begin to plant native flora. The goal is to provide pollinators such as milkweed, and golden rod with a rich trove of natural food. In addition to known native flora, we will be introducing some visitor species that our native pollinators may never have known about.

Global warming and pesticides have put our pollinators under great stress. Without them, we have no food. That’s why this Sears Field reclamation project feels so important and urgent to the Rotary Conservation team. Education will play a key role in our effort. Our educational resources include Master Gardeners and Pollinator Pathways POLLINATOR-PATHWAY-TOOLKIT.pdf (pollinatorpathways.com). Through the Adopt-a-Field program, WW Rotary will engage Interact and Rotaract students, nearby Girls and Boys clubs, and students in the Weston and Wayland schools. Once the project is up and running, we hope to help elementary and middle schools create pollinator-supporting meadows or gardens around their campuses.


All this work takes money, of course! Great news on that front: Weston Wayland Rotary just received a $1750 District Foundation Grant. However, the total estimated cost for the Sears Field project alone is ($20,000 over five years)—so we need your help. Funds will support the ongoing need for tools, native plant species, invasive management, conservation consulting, and educational resources.

 

2022 Work in Progress 

In year two, we will begin by working on the westside perimeter. This is a larger area than the other sides of the field. Our intent is to remove invasives almost to the Sears Road, so that the field is viewed from the road. 

 Herbicide spraying and mowing will also be done in this coming year. 

 It is our hope to engage more partners in the field. There is mention that Veritas School in Wayland would like to help. It would be great to have the Girl Scouts join us as well. In addition, community gardeners would be of great support.

 Costs second year (2022)

  •  Herbicide – $1500
  • Mowing - $500

What we will do:

  • Clearing
  • Herbicide
  • Honey Bees
  • Moth Cage
  • Sunflowers
  • Other Bees

 

CALENDAR

Parking at the Field
 
 

2021 Work

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The work in this field has been a partnership between The Weston Conservation Commission and The Weston Wayland Rotary Club. At the beginning of 2021, we began working with the Con Comm to establish a basis of design for our work, so that we would follow the direction of the Con Comm, thereby reworking the field as the Town of Weston would like. We met monthly with the Con Comm, updating them on our work and asking questions as issues came up.
 

There was a lot of administrative and legal preparation and discussion. Fortunately, we have a member, Susan Howard, who is an attorney. She has been of great help. She led the drive to develop documents to be signed by members and other volunteers; to protect the Club, the members, and the visitors. We also included informational documents that would help to be aware of any environmental concerns: cutting work, sun, heat, poison ivy, insects, etc. We provide samples of some of these documents at the end of this document.

 

We started our work on the south side perimeter, which is contiguous to the properties on Crescent St. We cut oriental bittersweet vines and pulled garlic mustard and other invasive plants around the perimeter. We continued to work our way around to the east, then the north side, closer to the water. 

 

When summer arrived, we decided to do mowing, expressly for the purpose of preventing the black swallow-wort from blooming and going to seed. Prior to and after the time of the mowing, Tim Gavin kept the main paths clear for the workers, especially around the perimeter; so that we could get more easily to the perimeter. We were aware of good patches of milkweed and other natives in the field. But we also those would re-grow after mowing.

 

We soon realized that mowing was not enough to keep the black swallow-wort at bay. We decided to have VCS, the company that the Town of Weston uses, spray herbicide on the field. The person who applied the herbicide was very good. He was quite selective in where and what he sprayed because he had knowledge of the natives and the invasives. He did two sprays, one on the black swallow-wort, and one on the Japanese knotweed. Some billing statements are provided at the end of this document.

 

Costs first year (2021) 

  • Mowing - $500
  • Herbicides - $1500

 

As for fundraising, it’s not easy. We got off to a slow start. But some of us really worked at researching ways to fundraise. One of the bright spots is that we now have a presence on various types of Internet media. 

 

One of our main goals is to educate. Some good education has come in the form of bringing Boy Scouts into the field to work. This of course is not only beneficial to them in the way of education, but also in the way of advancing in their badge work. More partnerships are on the way.

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Part 2 – The Close of the Work Season by Tim Gavin

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In the picture above, volunteers are pulling down a gigantic vine to add to one of six very large piles of brush created this year. 

 

As the year 2021 comes to a close, so does the inaugural year and the initial project of the new Conservation Team of the Rotary Club of Weston and Wayland. One of the last days of the year witnessed the removal of debris and detritus created by the hundreds of hours spent by volunteers from the club, along with friends, Boy Scouts, and other members of the community. It took over 15 one-ton dump trucks to remove all of the invasive species that the workers cut down over the course of the last 9 months. 

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In the picture above, The Town of Weston deployed a tractor and dump truck to remove large amounts of debris from the field. 

 

Since late March, members of the RCWW and other volunteers met on numerous Saturdays and Thursday nights to help reclaim the Sears Field from an infestation of invasive species that include black swallow wart, Japanese knotweed, oriental bittersweet, multi-flora rose, and several others. These plants not only make it more difficult for the native ones to thrive by actively choking or crowding them out, but they are detrimental to native fauna like the monarch butterflies and other pollinators.

 

The RCWW volunteers ripped up, lopped off, and chainsawed through thousands of pounds of these harmful species. The club also paid for additional field mowing to keep the harmful plants from flowering and using selective treatments to kill off the broad leaf invasives. The town of Weston graciously removed all the debris so that the field is ready for its next phase of work to begin in the spring of 2022!

  

This is only the first year of a five-year plan to fully reclaim the field from the invasives and to plant helpful pollinators that the whole community can enjoy! The Conservation Team of RCWW will need all the assistance it can gather in the coming years and welcomes all able-bodied souls to help however they can (or even come watch and socialize with other members of the club). Stay tuned in the Spring for more cleanup dates.

 

If you would like to be a part of this amazing transformation and get involved, please email president@westonwaylandrotary.org for more information.

 

Invasives in the Field

 

Black Swallow-wort

 

The well-meaning, no doubt, horticulturalists who first brought Black Swallow-

wort to North American did us no favors. It was first cultivated in the mid-1880’s in

Essex County, Massachusetts, both in Ipswich and the Harvard Botanical Garden.

Today, this plant is an aggressive invasive vine that takes over native species and is

difficult to eradicate once it gets started. It was well-established in the Sears Farm

property the Weston and Wayland Rotary Conservation Committee has been

endeavoring to rehabilitate.

Vincetoxicum nigrum is native to Europe, primarily Italy, France, Portugal and

Spain. It’s unfortunate it didn’t stay there! The vine can grow to as much as six feet in

length, entwining around itself and any other plant with which it comes in contact.

Shoots come up in the spring, clusters of purple-black flowers appear in June or July

and the slender, tapered seed pods appear in late July or August. It can live to the ripe

old age of 70 years !

The plant perpetuates itself through both seeds and rhizomes producing 1000-

2000 seeds per ten square feet, depending on the amount of sunlight it receives. A

highly adaptable plant, it likes full sun but tolerates full shade and both thin soils and

rich fertile soils.

Controlling this plant requires a great deal of hard labor, patience and

persistence. It is best to dig out the entire root ball, but hand-pulling seedlings, frequent

mowing and the application of systemic herbicides for several years are additional

means employed. Grazing, burning and flooding have all proven to be unsuccessful.

The plant has very little good going for it. It is toxic if ingested by humans,

canines or equines. It also interferes with the reproduction of Monarch Butterflies. The

Monarch likes to lay its eggs on milkweed seed, and as the swallow-wort seed looks

similar, “mistakes are made” and when hatched, the Monarch larvae have nothing to eat

that will sustain them.

Rotary Conservation Committee volunteers have been digging, pulling. Mowing

and spraying large amounts of Swallow-wort entrenched in the Sears Farm plot for the

past two years in an effort to turn an abandoned acre into a pollinator’s field of wild

flowers. As previously mentioned, it is taking hard, physical labor, patience and

persistence to get it under control.

Oriental Bittersweet

 

Oriental Bittersweet, Celastrus orbiculatus, is another invasive found in great quantity on the Sears Farm field. Native to China, Japan and Korea, it was introduced to the United States around 1860 as an ornamental plant and one to be used for erosion control. It spread to Massachusetts in 1919 and now may be found in almost all of the lower 48 states. Historically it was used by Native Americans for food and medicinal purposes.  Several bird species eat the berries, but as they are low in fat content, they are not number one on the birds’ diet.

The plant has unpretentious greenish-yellow flowers in the spring, but beautiful orange-yellow capsules that open to reveal red berries in the fall. These berries often remain in place well into winter providing food for wildlife. Pretty as it may be, it is a menace to other plants, shrubs and trees. Vines that can grow 60 feet long with as much as a 6-inch diameter wind around and strangle trees and shrubs cutting off the flow of water and nutrients to the host plant. These vines can also act like a ladder to carry wildfires up the tree’s trunk. When covered by snow and ice, the weight of the vines can cause tree limbs to break and weaker trees to be pulled down completely.

Rotary Conservation Committee volunteers have been endeavoring to free the Sears Farm meadow of this invasive plant by hand pulling and cutting down the larger vines and mowing the young shoots. They are now in their second summer of working to control this invasive plant in an effort to free the field of this menace before planting wild flowers and other pollinator plants.

 

Garlic Mustard

 

Garlic Mustard, Alliaria petiolate, is another invasive plant which the volunteers from the Rotary Club Conservation Committee are trying to control on the Sears Farm plot. Although not as prevalent as the Black Swallow-wort or Oriental Bittersweet, it is equally persistent as each plant can produce up to 5000 seeds which are viable in the ground for up to five years.

 

Native to Western Asia and Europe, it was brought to the United States in the 1800s as a food source, although deer and other wildlife find it distasteful and therefore are no help in its control.

 

The plant roots emit allopathic chemicals that poison nearby plants of other species, including desirable native plants. Adaptable to poor soil and both sun and shade, it prefers shady forest edges

 

Hand pulling or spraying when the plants are in bloom, with their showy white flowers, is the most effective means of control and mowing should never be done between May and September when the seed pods are present.

 

Multi-flora Rose

 

The Multi-flora Rose, Rosa multifora,is the fourth invasive plant which has found a home on the Sears Farm plot. Brought to the United States in the 1860s, it was favored as a shrub for living fences to contain cattle, for erosion control, and as a garden ornamental plant.

Subsequently, in the 1960s, it began being used by highway departments around the country in median strips to reduce the glare of on-coming headlights and as a barrier to automobile crashes Plantings were also encouraged as a source of food for birds and as cover for small mammals such as rabbits. Its invasive nature, however, got it banned in Massachusetts in 2009 and it can no longer be imported, distributed or sold in the Commonwealth.

Over the years, the plant forms dense thickets that can reach 10-15 feet in height. These growths often crowd out other plant species. It prefers sunny areas but tolerates shade. White flowers appear in early spring and bloom well into June. Red fruits appear in August and can remain on the bushes well into the winter.

An individual plant can produce 500,000 seeds each year and the seeds remain viable for 10-20 years. Where feasible, domestic sheep and goats can be brought in as a control method, but in most instances, it is a case of having to pull, dig, mow and cut to eradicate the plant – and doing it monthly during the growing season for as much as two or four years. Herbicides are best used in July and August.

The manual labor required to control all of the invasives found on the Sears Farm plot is such that there is a standing invitation to anyone wishing to participate in the control of all of these plants! Coffee and donuts are served to worker-bees!