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Wild Weekend

Posted by kevinwolz on March 29, 2010

Whooo! What a busy weekend! I learned a lot, accomplished a lot, and had a ton of fun along the way. Friday saw another morning in Utopia, where my main task was to start the fungi! I built five interesting cardboard containers and filled them with the apple shreddings from the other day, inoculating with the fungal spawn in layers as I added the chips. The hope is that these unpredictable fungi will love this new environment and start a huge network of mycelia in the next few months. Then, hopefully before summer ends, they will “fruit” and produce mushrooms (oyster and wine cap) to grace our plates! The plus side is that after this initial setup, the fungi really don’t require much care. The down side is that triggering the fruiting stage is really hit or miss. This area of biology is one of the most lacking in substantial research, and consequently, we know very little about the life cycles of most fungi. Keep you fingers crossed!

On Saturday morning, I attended two workshops taught by Rob and others I will be collaborating out with over the summer: “Gardening 101: Intro to Home Gardening” and “Compost: How to Prepare Nature ’s Organic Fertilizer.” Here, I learned some great stuff that will be directly applicable as I start my garden in the next few months. The “lasagna” method, raised bed construction, and pest identification/control were particularly helpful topics. In the hour between these workshops, I also managed to squeeze in my long run for the week, getting back just in time to catch some great locally grown food..

Down The Line!

I then drove three hours straight home where I spent barely ten minutes before leaving for downtown Chicago where my favorite band was playing a concert and releasing their new album! I’ve been waiting to see Down the Line live for over five years and just couldn’t pass up this opportunity. Four hours of standing was a bit difficult after yesterday’s steeple workout and today’s long run, but Down the Line made every second worth it (although the opening band didn’t).

I crashed at a friend’s place nearby and woke up barely four hours later to drive back up to Wisconsin for two more workshops: “Living Soils: Healthy Plants Come from Healthy Soil” and “Season Extension Techniques,” again squeezing a run in during the lunch break. These two workshops were a bit more advanced and really interesting. My mom also came along for these two, where she was able to really dive into this stuff for the first time and finally see everything I’ve been talking about non-stop for months.

Afterwards, the dejá vu really hit me as I left the workshops to drive the long ride home yet again. This time, I didn’t even have time to stop home, but went straight to the Palos Restoration Project annual potluck party. It was really great to sit down for a while, eat some good food, and catch up with my friends from the forest. The head steward prepared another awesome slide show full of really great pictures from the last year’s work, which was particularly exciting since I’ve been away at college for most of that time. We also played my “One Year at Hidden Pond Prairie” video project that I just completed in January after over a year of work and documentation. The video is a long time-lapse that tracks the growth and diversity of the prairie in the year following a prescribed burn. It was really great to share this with everyone and reminisce over the beauty of the prairie.  I then had about an hour at home to recollect myself and pack before getting on the bus back to school. Two uncomfortable hours later, here I am: satisfied, exhausted, and not looking forward to my 8am class tomorrow…I mean later this morning.

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