April 15, 2021 Having a Ball! – Local Students Find a New Way to Plant Spring Wildflowers
Spring is finally here and it is never too early to start planning ways to beautify and enhance our local habitat for ourselves, our neighbors and the wildlife in our backyards. This was the idea behind The Native Seed Ball Project worked on by several Blackstone Valley community members under the sponsorship of Metacomet Land Trust, a non-profit, tax-exempt conservation organization dedicated to the preservation of open space in 15 area towns.
This winter, students from Upton Memorial School and Blackstone Valley Technical Vocational Regional High School made the seed balls from a combination of compost, clay and wildflower seeds collected at a pollinator farm in Uxbridge last fall. The purpose of the balls is to provide a fun and random way to spread the seeds while also encouraging seed growth by using materials that retain moisture. The resulting wildflowers will support a variety of native pollinator species and birds.
Cullen Jacene, a junior at BVT and a Metacomet volunteer, explained that it may seem counterintuitive to be planting seeds in the dead of winter, but the reason behind this timing has been well thought out. “It is because of the way these seeds germinate that it was decided to disperse them in the cold of winter as that mimics the conditions they would have faced if they had naturally fallen on the ground last fall. So, the best way to match this environment and help the plants undergo this essential process was to place them in the cold, moist, winter weather.”
Now, the seed balls have been dispersed on the pollinator field at the Szerlag Farm Preserve in Northbridge, which is a 24-acre parcel of conserved land owned by Metacomet Land Trust. Metacomet committed to creating this field three years ago to support the Blackstone Valley Heritage Corridor in its efforts to promote pollinator gardens throughout the area and to educate people about the importance of native pollinators. The field and woodland trails are open to the public.
In the future, when the pandemic is over, it is the hope of the volunteers that they can involve the surrounding neighborhood in other endeavors like this. So be prepared to watch for more plants growing and new colors covering the field. Most of the flowers are scheduled to bloom in their second year.