March 8, 2013

Pine Needle Baskets and Forest Stewardship

This week, students in the Alderleaf Wilderness Certification Program got to learn how to make pine needle baskets as well as learning vital skills of habitat restoration and forest stewardship.  Here are some photographic highlights for the class days.

Alderleaf student Artie shows us his progress on the early stages of a coiled pine needle basket.  The pine needles are wound together using rafia. 

Here another Alderleaf student, Jeremy, shows us a basket that is further along and is starting to show a bowl-like shape.  These baskets can be made to be very tight, and can make a small or large basket.  These can containers can carry a variety of items or wild harvested foods.

Here is an example of a Native style of pine needle basketry that was made of ponderosa pine needles and bear grass.  The perfect pattern shows us this was made by the hands of a master basket maker.

On the following class day, the same students learned a ton about habitat restoration and forest stewardship.  Then they went out on to the Alderleaf property to implement what they had learned.  They checked on the previous years' native plantings.  Then, they located spots to plant more native species.  Once they found a good location, they trimmed back the invasive Himalayan blackberry and set to work getting the site ready.

Here Alderleaf students Andrew and Artie work together to cut back blackberries, dig a hole and plant a shore pine (Pinus contorta contorta).  Once the tree is in the ground, and dirt is filled in around it, a ring of mulch is created to help trap water and retain moisture around its roots.

Here is the tree, after completion.  We will enjoy watching it grow, and each year will monitor its progress and remove any invasive species that might threaten to compete with it for light or nutrients.

This native pine tree is an excellent tree to have at the Alderleaf property, and will provide vitamin-rich needles for tea, shade during the summer, cones and nesting habitat for food and shelter for a variety of local wildlife.

Our other cohort of students will be returning from a trip to the shrub-steppe habitats of central Washington.  Watch for a update on their trip very soon!

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