The Coop at StellaLou Farm hosted an informal controlled burn and art making event on March 5th. We were fortunate that our rain date gave us perfect conditions for burning the area around the pond and up to the new meadow area. Dry, just the right winds, and warm enough to enjoy the outdoors all day long with friends and community. We followed the flames, re-connected and made new connections, drew with char, ate, drank and played.
We are slowly transitioning some of the land from mowed grass and wild areas covered in multiflora, callery pear, vine, and ragweed to land that requires little intervention. We wish to build healthy habitats that support a more diverse range of wildlife and plant species. We are burning to reduce pressure of aggressive species so that native and more diverse flora can get a foothold through natural emergence or planting. The area pictured above was burned for the first time last year and planted with beach plum, honey locust, persimmon, and nut trees from Future Forest Plants. We doused the area around the young trees this year to protect them during the burn. Burning can help with nutrient cycling and may stimulate new plant growth. Burning can, also, reduce the pressure of disease and ticks.
This cultural and historical land management tradition of human societies is important. The U.S. has repressed the practice for over a century and its benefits are starting to become realized again. We are grateful to Zach Elfers who, first, showed us how to conduct safe and effective controlled burns several years ago.
This article from Penn State Extension was helpful in learning the benefits of controlled burns. Video from the burn event is published on the School of Living YouTube channel.