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Invasive Pull – Sept 2, 2023

After a long summer break, we had our first Free the Fern Invasive Pull on Saturday, Sept 2, 2023. 12 amazing volunteers, ranging in age from 12 years old to 65+, came out to help.

At 10am, we gathered at the beautiful Douglas Fir Teaching Garden. Free the Fern Executive Director, Grace Nombrado, welcomed everyone and did a land acknowledgment; “with gratitude we acknowledge that we are on the unceded territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) peoples.” Grace also mentioned that the Douglas Fir Teaching Garden has recently be recognized by the David Suzuki Foundation as a Healing Forest. “Healing Forests bring people together to reflect on this country’s tragic past, and begin taking steps towards a better future together”(National Healing Forest Initiative)

After welcoming everyone, we walked down the Red Alder trail to where it forks in an area known as “the Triangle”. The area will be the future site of our Native Food Forest. The focus of the pull was to remove invasive Himalayan blackberry regrowth. Volunteers found the ground to be quite rocky and the invasive roots deeply imbedded in the ground. Together, we used shovels and tillers in an attempt to loosen the soil and release the roots. We succeeded in clearing 720 L of invasive Himalayan blackberry. In addition, one of our volunteers, Liam, spotted a single invasive American Pokeweed plant, with its pink flowers beginning to bloom in the area. Luckily, we were able to catch it before it had gone to fruit, as it produces toxic berries. We were able to dig out the Pokeweed’s deep tap root, which looks much like a carrot. In addition, we dug out a few invasive black locust tree seedlings that were beginning to spread via seed.

Together volunteers enjoyed a break for tea, juice, and cookies. Many of the food and beverages had been generously donated from local members of the Champlain Heights community.

After the break to connect, we continued with the invasive removal. We were surprised when a local resident, Olga, appeared with a wild black currant to donate to our restoration effort. We planted it in the northern area of our future food forest. Olga, then joined in with our removal effort, grabbing a shovel and helping with digging out Himalayan blackberry roots.

Thank you to our amazing volunteers: Annette, Antone, Carla, Erin, Genevieve, Genesis, Grace, Jeannine, Liam, Olga, Robin, and Tom.