Keeping an interest in healing our land isn’t always easy to do, especially when it comes to getting youth involved. So, what better way to get young people interested in restoring native species’ habitat than a good, old fashioned, down on the farm, tree planting? Our Earth Day event began as a way to educate our youth workers, known as Junior Crew, and encourage community involvement centered around a focus on wildlife habitat restoration, water and air quality improvement, and overall conservation. This year we had to alter our original plans for our fifth annual Earth Day on the Farm tree-planting event initially scheduled for April. By the time of our event in October, we added six new youth workers to our Junior Crew to help, and we invited our entire staff to help out.

The spring transplanting season flew by like a leaf in the wind, and we had to delay our tree delivery from Cacapon Institute by nearly six months. Luckily, fall is still a wonderful time of year to plant trees; the trees keep their energy stored in their roots since they won’t have any budding leaves during that season. Our tree-planting advice is to wait until the tree has entered into seasonal dormancy when transplanting, hence the window of time to plant is from late fall until early spring. The late planting is helpful to the folks here at the farm because we won’t have to apply water in such large quantities at the onset of warmer weather.  

Between our previous Earth Day plantings in 2018 and 2019 and this year’s planting of 122, we have planted over 500 trees! This year’s trees were extracted from their pots and planted with 15-foot spacing. Swamp white oak, river birch, hackberry, black cherry, pin oak, black willow, and sweetgum now adorn what was once hayfield and pasture land to promote excellent quality wildlife habitat. Most of these trees will average 60 feet in height when mature. Many of these tree varieties will serve as attractants for the animals we love to see, including multiple species of amphibians, birds of prey, waterfowl, wild turkeys, bears, deer, pollinators, and reptiles. These trees provide vast food sources, potential places to live, and cover for the many animals they’ll attract. This year’s tree planting linked the currently isolated wetland turtle habitat of our lower fields, to the riparian zone along the banks of the Cacapon River. The Cacapon River and its accompanying low lying wetlands provide a niche habitat for various endangered species such as Glyptemys insculpta, the Wood Turtle. This particular turtle has a high risk of extinction in the wild due to habitat loss. The creation of a wildlife corridor for turtles, so they can travel between the wetland and the river without having to cross open terrain, will help to minimize predation and maximize their reproductive success. We understand that natural wetland is an essential ecosystem commodity and act to conserve it.  

Wardensville Garden Market is a nonprofit social enterprise that has approximately 33 acres of certified wildlife habitat enrolled in the grassland birds initiative through Potomac Valley Audubon Society, is registered in the National Wildlife Federation, and partners with the Carla Hardy West Virginia CommuniTree program through the Cacapon Institute. We do our best to promote stewardship of our natural resources so that everyone can enjoy them for years to come! Scroll through our Earth Day photos below to see how we spent our day planting trees and bonding with our team. 

Mason Gray

Mason Gray

Facilities Office Manager / Conservation Liaison

My name is Mason Gray! In my spare time, you can find me coaching at the local high school or working on my family farm. If you can’t find me in those places it’s because I’m off the grid exploring Wild and Wonderful West Virginia!

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