As we see the first glimpses of spring, our thoughts naturally turn towards the cycle of annual renewal, spring planting and students, faculty and staff working on natural capital projects around Green Mountain College (GMC) and Poultney, Vermont. Of course that work never truly stops. Now is the perfect time to be inspired by the success of student work such as, Jean Lan’s Delicate Balance project Converting GMC Lawn Spaces into Native Plantings (2016) or Cate Brewster & Brianna Alimonti’s Invasive Species and the Natives They Out-compete (2015).
Larger plans are afoot. Biology professor Jim Graves is working to establish GMC as an arboretum by reforesting lawns without diminishing the benefits that lawns currently provide. Demo conversion plots were created last spring to model the benefits, adding to the numerous educational plantings on campus that create habitat for native flora and fauna. Jim has created a conceptual landscape plan to help students with ideas for campus plantings to design them to fit the overall arboretum plan—so reach out with your ideas!
What about the native plant nursery, that campus gem behind SAGE Hall? Started in 2002 with the need to grow plants for the restoration of floodplain forests along the lower Poultney River, the nursery moved to GMC in 2011. Today, the Nursery is a collaboration of GMC, TNC and the Poultney Mettowee Natural Resources Conservation District (PMNRCD). The nursery is a huge asset to academic programs on campus. Students have volunteered on the nursery to learn plant propagation and planting techniques, and the nursery has assisted many students projects by providing plants for campus plantings and restoration projects like Daniel Lang & Keelin Banks’ Poultney River Restoration Project (2015).
A number of other student projects have focused on increasing natural capital on campus and in our wider bioregion. These include Cullen MacAndrew’s Harvesting Rainwater project, 2016), and Carl Diethelm’s project to decrease the campus waste stream, Auditing Waste at GMC (2016).