volunteers work on planting farm hedgerow in spring

Volunteers help plant hedgerow at Hawthorne Valley Farm.

Hawthorne Valley Farm spent much of the last week working on an exciting addition to its farmscape: a 350-foot-long hedgerow! This substantial hedge is adjacent to one of the farm’s cow lanes and now contains young trees and shrubs of a variety of mostly native species. The majority of the plantings were hawthorne trees. Other species include highbush cranberry, elderberry, dogwood, American persimmon, red oak, shagbark, hackberry, serviceberry, American plum, apple, and hazelnut.

Hawthorne Valley Farm has a long history of embracing and celebrating biodiversity on the farm. The Farmscape Ecology Program has been documenting interactions between farming and wild nature for two decades and collaborated with the farm in the creation of wooded riparian corridors, the management of some of the hayfields for grassland breeding birds, and the integration of habitats for beneficial insects in the vegetable gardens.

The new hedge will further support the farm’s biodiversity, providing blossoms for pollinators, berries for birds, and nuts for wildlife, as well as shelter for creatures great and small. Eventually, it will also provide food for the farm’s pigs. The growing hedge will visually divide a large field, adding aesthetic interest, and making the walk along one of the farm’s main arteries more noteworthy and beautiful. Lastly, it will serve as a windbreak and create conditions that are more beneficial for soils, crops, livestock, wildlife, and people.

The project benefitted from a large contingent of volunteers, including a local group known as The Soil Sisters. They spend several hours per week volunteering with the Farmscape Ecology Program maintaining the native plant garden, beetle banks, and pollinator patches near the farm’s vegetable fields. Additional volunteers included Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School’s (HVS) 9th grade class, as well as Hawthorne Valley non-farm staff. Additional work over the next few weeks will also include children from HVS’ lower school grades.

The trees and shrubs came from a new local nursery in Ghent, Arthur’s Point Farm, which grows and sells a variety of edible and ecological trees, shrubs, and perennial wildflowers. Their mission statement reads, in part, “…We plant trees, heal the land, and enhance habitat for wildlife. This makes the land more productive and resilient to a changing climate…”