Volunteers Needed to Help with the May 11 Eagle Festival!

The Mason Neck State Park Eagle Festival on Saturday, May 11 is the Park’s biggest event of the year. More than 20 environmentally-oriented organizations will showcase interactive exhibits. We’ll have a full day of programs, including shows on reptiles and raptors, live music, pony rides, a tent for children’s activities and more. Last year more than 4000 people attended this great event. The Friends of Mason Neck State Park covers all the expenses for the Festival, as well as providing the volunteers that help to make the event go smoothly. Would you like to help us out? Send an email to Volunteer for Eagle Festival and we’ll find you a job that you’ll enjoy.

The Hospitable Garden: Welcoming beautiful butterflies, moths, and other critters, Mar. 16th

Photo by Barbara J. Saffir (c)

Long Branch Nature Center, Arlington VA
Saturday, 16 March 2019
10 am-12 pm

Long Branch Nature Center and the Washington Area Butterfly Club are pleased to present this talk by Tyler Ormsby and Alyssa Ford-Morel. They will talk about how to choose and cultivate plants to better create ecosystems in our yards. Tyler is a certified Master Gardener and his yard is an Audubon at Home Wildlife Sanctuary. Alyssa is an Audubon at Home Ambassador and a Certified Master Gardener and Master Naturalist. Free program.

Friends of Runnymede Park Annual Meeting-Go batty Mar. 10th!

Herndon Community Center, Herndon VA
Sunday, 10 March 2019

Guest speaker Leslie Sturges will present “Save Lucy.” “Lucy” is a Little Brown Bat growing up and facing the threat of white-nose syndrome, a cold-loving fungus that attacks bats while they are hibernating. Leslie’s program will focus on the amazing abilities of bats, the crucial role they play in our ecosystem, and why it is important to “Save Lucy.” Leslie will bring live bats. The program is designed for adults and children. Free. Light refreshments at 4:15 PM, program to follow. For more information, call 703-437-7451.

2019 Conservation Poster Contest entries due Oct. 4th

Deadline: October 4, 2019
The Youth Poster Contest is a national competition. Students submit entries to their local Conservation District. Winning entries can be sent to state and even national competitions for judging and awards. The contest is open to the public, private or home school students, girl scout/boy scout troops, etc. Please note that both Girl and Boy Scouts that participate in the contest and submit valid entries at any level are eligible to receive the VASWCD Conservation Poster Patch. This year’s theme is Life in the Soil: Dig Deeper.
· K-1
· 2-3
· 4-6
· 7-9
· 10-12
Entries must be submitted to the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District by October 4, 2019. Learn more and enter.

Apply for the 2019 Youth Conservation Camp by May 1st

Deadline: May 1, 2019
For over 35 years, the Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts has sponsored a week long summer conservation camp in July for Virginia high school students on the campus of Virginia Tech. The program brings together about 70 interested students for a week of learning about Virginia’s natural resources from conservation professionals and Virginia Tech faculty. Most of the instruction is hands-on and outdoors. Youth Conservation Camp is a selective program and interested students must send their application to their local Soil and Water Conservation District. Each year, the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District receives applications, makes selections and offers a partial scholarship to students who will attend Youth Conservation Camp. The total cost of camp is usually around $550, including meals, lodging, activities, and transport during camp. Students are responsible for obtaining their own means of transportation to and from Virginia Tech. We are now accepting applications for Youth Conservation Camp, which will be held from July 7-13, 2019 at Virginia Tech. NVSWCD Application Deadline: May 1, 2019. Learn more and apply.

Stream cleanups in March

Bull Run Tributary Stream Cleanup
Manassas, VA
Saturday, 16 March 2019
9 am-12 pm

Join the Merrimac Farm Master Naturalists, Friends of the Square, Keep Prince William Beautiful, and other Prince William County partners to keep the stream corridor near the Bull Run Shopping Center clean under Prince William SWCD’s Adopt-A-Stream program. Great for student community service hours. Light refreshment will be provided. Volunteers should come dressed for the weather, with boots and clothes they don’t mind getting dirty. Learn more and RSVP to Prince William SWCD.

Potomac River Cleanup at Gravelly Point
Gravelly Point, Arlington VA
Saturday, 30 March 2019
10 am-1 pm

Get your hands dirty for clean water and make a difference in your community by volunteering with Potomac Conservancy, Green Muslims, and the National Park Service. Join us in collecting trash and enjoy the dramatic takeoffs at nearby National Airport. Register now to support healthy lands and clean drinking water!

Powells Creek Stream Cleanup
Montclair VA
Saturday, 30 March 2019
10 am-1 pm

Parking available at 15601 Northgate Dr., Montclair VA 22025. For more information about this event, please contact the Merrimac Farm Master Naturalists.

Stream monitoring in March

Friends of Accotink Creek Stream Monitoring Session
Lake Accotink Park, Springfield VA
Saturday, 9 March 2019

Join Friends of Accotink Creek volunteers as they assess ecological conditions in a stream, based on the presence and absence of bottom-dwelling invertebrates. Meet at the parking lot behind Lake Accotink Park Administrative Building. See Friends of Accotink Creek for additional stream monitoring information.

Helping Your Stream Through Citizen Science
Chapman DeMary Trail, Purcellville VA
Sunday, 10 March 2019
2-5 pm

Healthy streams and waterways support a wide range of native flora and fauna. The stream running through your neighborhood is vitally important to ensuring that our larger tributaries such as the Potomac River and Goose Creek remain healthy to sustain a diverse wildlife habitat. Local streams can, however, become impaired by urban runoff and development. Join us for a stream-side demonstration and discussion examining how citizen science surveys can be used to assess local stream quality. You will see how biomonitoring surveys are conducted. You will have a chance to look at the data and at aquatic macroinvertebrates. We will discuss how the data is analyzed and how it can be used to improve our streams. At the end, you will have the opportunity to sign up for a spring survey, led by one of Loudoun Wildlife’s citizen science stream monitoring teams. Registration is limited, RSVP to Loudoun Wildlife.

Prince William (Cedar Run) Stream Monitoring Workshop
Evergreen Acres Farm, Hazelwood Dr., Nokesville VA
Saturday, 16 March 2019
10 am-12:30 pm

Join Veronica Tangiri of Prince William SWCD for citizen science monitoring. Come and learn more about the health of this stream and how it interacts with agriculture as it joins the Occoquan River. Contact Veronica for more information or to register.

Powells Creek Stream Monitoring Session
Northgate Dr., Montclair VA
Saturday, 30 March 2019
10 am-12:30 pm

Join Buck Arvin and the Merrimack Master Naturalist Team in monitoring Powells Creek in the Montclair area. Residents are welcome to come and support the data collection of this stream and learn more about water quality in their area. For directions and more information, please RSVP to Buck.

Gardening and landscaping made easy

Everyone enjoys a beautiful yard. Not everyone enjoys working in it. For those who would like to attract birds and butterflies with as little effort as possible, there are some simple solutions.

It is a lot less work to plant a few larger plants than a whole lot of small ones. Adding a few native shrubs or trees to your landscaping is easily accomplished, and weeding will be a straightforward affair. Make sure that your plant choices are native, because plants that evolved here are adapted for survival and require no fertilizers, pesticides, or additional watering once established. (They are also the plants that most benefit the ecosystem.) Avoid the need for pruning by choosing shrubs that naturally grow to the right size. Leave fallen leaves in place to create a natural mulch.

Flower gardens will typically require more weeding, but there are ways to minimize work there as well. Almost all of our native garden plants are perennial, meaning you only need to plant them once to achieve years of seasonal blooms. It is much easier to decide what is a weed and what is not if you plant just a few species in well-defined blocks, using plants that have strong and distinctive architecture. Find details and more tips on the Plant NOVA Natives website.

Of course, the ultimate way to save yourself work is to get someone else to do it for you! A landscape design company with expertise in native plants can accomplish in a day what might take you years to get around to on your own. In addition, many landscape designers have been through the Chesapeake Bay Professional Landscaping training program and can help you with erosion and stormwater control. Now is a good time to get on their schedule for a spring planting. You can find a list here.

Seedling giveaways and native plant sales

Seedling sales and giveaways are going on now, and native plant sales start at the end of March.  Plan ahead and thank Plant NOVA Natives for the terrific lists!

Permaculture Design Courses, June and August

Master Permaculture Design Course
June 5-9th, 2019 – Fairfax, VA – Suters Glen Permaculture Farm
with Wayne Weiseman of the Permaculture Project LLC

Already have your PDC and want to take the next step? This course is designed to help you dive deeper into permaculture principles and methodologies.Students will walk away with a completed master design of their property. Class will be 8am-6pm each day with breakfast and lunch included. Early bird tuition until 4/1/19.

Questions? Please contact Christine Harris, christine.nharris24@gmail.com, (804) 502-4655.
More info & registration: https://bit.ly/2t7Hlap

72-Hour Permaculture Design Certification Course
August 31-September 8th, 2019 – Louisa, VA – Heartwood Farm with Wayne Weiseman of the Permaculture Project

LLC  Topics include: Permaculture design principles and methodologies; Soil fertility; Organic vegetable production; Native, edible, medicinal and functional plants in the landscape; Climates and microclimates; Alternative energy and natural building; aquaculture, mushrooms, fermentation, herbalism and so much more! Course will be held at Heartwood Farm. Class will be 8am-5pm each day with breakfast and lunch included and some additional evening activities with served dinner. Camping available or accommodations close by. Early bird tuition until 5/31/19.

Questions? Please contact Christine Harris, christine.nharris24@gmail.com, (804) 502-4655.

More info & registration: https://bit.ly/2Gv2SSD

Permaculture breaks down to “perennial” “agriculture.” It’s a way of looking at the landscape, and designing for both ecological and economical viability. For example, when permaculturists look at ways to grow food in their yards, on a farm or elsewhere, they look to the ways that a forest is naturally structured and mimic that to create an “edible food forest” that is comprised of a similar layering structure that a forest has (top canopy, lower canopy, shrubs, herbaceous plants, groundcover, fungi and vines). Not only are they planting edible or native plants just because they like them, but they are planting in ways that allow the system to support itself (ie., incorporating nitrogen-fixing plants, beneficial insect plants, dynamic accumulators like comfrey or stinging nettle which grab important minerals from the soil which they can then use as a mulch and feed the system, etc.) In doing so, they are creating a sustainable agriculture system that is self-sufficient and requires very little work to maintain.

Permaculture is an observation-based system of design, that requires the designer to observe what is happening on their landscape at a deeper level (where is the water, sun and wind moving? how can I direct the water to slow it down and disperse it across my landscape? what microclimates are present? what animals are visiting and where are they going? what are the underlying patterns in the landscape? what plants are already here?) It is a system of sustainable agriculture but also a way of living, of stewarding our Earth and sharing with the community – it has 3 basic principles that the design work is based on 1) Earth Care 2) People Care and 3) Fair Share.

The word “Permaculture” was coined by Bill Mollison in the 1970’s who went on to write the book Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual.  In his words:
“Permaculture is about designing sustainable human settlements. It is a philosophy and an approach to land use which weaves together microclimate, annual and perennial plants, animals, soil, water management, and human needs into intricately connected, productive communities.”