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The Ashfield News
Ashfield, Massachusetts
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August 1, 2013     The Ashfield News
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HURRY! LAST MONTH TO SUBMIT YOUR ENTRY! Deadline August 31 See Page 2 For Details The Ashfield N AN ALL-VOLUNTEER, NON-PROFIT MONTHLY NEWSPAPER SINCE o AUGUST 2OI 3 VOL. XXXVII NO. 8  }  r- 09 eq 0O A Steady Flow Of Good Fresh Things At Spring Water Farm The Ashfield News paid a visit to Will and Donna Elwell's Spring Water Farm on Baptist Corner Road to see how things were growing. The new facility, now operating in its second season, houses Will's timber-frame construc- tion business in back, and Donna's farm stand in front. Actually, the term "farm stand" is a little too quaint for such a marvel. The build- ing, which should still be operational 500 years from now, is a model of self sustenance. The solar array generates enough power to sell off surplus electricity, and the underground spring provides plenty of water to keep everything hydrated (and washed). The farm stand is open Wednesday through Saturday from 1 to 6 p.m. Donna's fresh produce is also available at the Farmer's Market, but do yourself a favor and see Spring Water Farm for yourself. But be warned: there's so much to see you might forget to buy the tomatoes you came for! There will most definitely be tomatoes this year: Donna makes her Way through the multiple rieties in the greenhouse. More to come: blueberries, raspberries, string beans, and some squash were available. O 7: Washing, weighing, and wrapping take place at this commercial grade sink and table. Water is supplied by the spring. Excess spring water is collected in this '30s era 500 gallon stainless steel tank salvaged from a brewery. If needed, this water can be pumped into the fields. Locally made honey, maple syrup--even artwork and furniture are available inside the stand. Donna discusses weed control by the onion field. Of Timberdoodles And Clear Cuts By Kate Kerivan De tN TnZ winter nights of 2010, I watched the glow of fires and spirals of smoke arise from what were acres of my beloved woodlands on Bug Hill Road. That spring, I questioned the decision to cut ten acres of them. The decision was based on a combination of my own knowledge of why our even, mostly middle-aged woods lack biological diversity and the federal government's money: the timber quality was so poor, I would have had to pay a logger to cut it. The Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP) grant funded by the USDA and administered by the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) paid a local logger to do it. I excludedtwo acres so that I could also stump and plant native elder- berries, which is not funded by the grant. In the aftermath of my decision, walking between burn piles and slash that spring of 2011, I thought I had made a horrible mistake. I was sure most of my neighbors thought so, too. I continued to believe so throughout that summer and fall--trails through the woods to the pond were mostly obliterated, stumps of swamp maple sprouted and the blackened limbs of decades old native high bush blueber- ries stared accusingly. That winter, many of the old paper birches I had flagged to leave standing, lacking the cover of their fellow trees, "Ihe Elderberry Allee Trail at Bug Hill Farm predictably blew over. Thankfully, the few red oaks I had selected as seed trees remained standing. In the second spring as the increased sun- light and lack of competition encouraged hun- dreds of native blueberries and early "pioneer" species like cherry and poplar, to succeed, it felt as if I were being regenerated. Early succession- al habitat, which many native insect pollinators and migratory birds like American woodcock depend upon looks "messy" to the human eye but disturbance is not always negative. What I had learned is that mid-level disturbance is an essential component ofbiodiversity; prescribed burns and patch clear cuts are an established management tool used in enhancing wildlife habitat. But those were practices, abstract con- cepts I had studied or gone on field trips to see, a far cry from actually doing it on my own land, to my own woods; woods I had walked through for years. In cutting a portion of them down, I had to trust the results would be as I had hoped and that time (oh, patience!) is required. This summer, the third since the cut, when my year-old dog flushed out more tim- berdoodle  than I had ever seen among the young, shoulder high poplar, the winter of doubt seemed distant and I remembered the importance of different ages (not just different species) in healthy ecosystems. Last month, visitors walked down "Elderberry Allee" to the pond during Bug Hill Farm's first open house and farm tour, the same area I had despaired over ever seeing restored after the cutting and stumping. Then we led a walk to the nearby experimental planting of mostly native ber- ries, part of a national grant we received in exploring the use of "marginal" lands and early successional habitat for perennial crops using a permaculture technique called "hugelkultur." They had to dodge bear scat on the new trails between thickly regenerating low and high bush native blueberries, dewberries and not yet ripe native blackberries. We are sharing with the birds and the bears and the bumblebees. *to learn more about timberdoodle (American woodcock) and their habitat see: timberdoodle.org Kate Kerivan is ownergrower of Bug Hill Farm