Valley Catholic Middle School Conquers Blackberry!

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Written by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer Northwest Member Lauren McKenna

Valley Catholic Middle School @Johnson Creek 11/16/2012

Blackberry Conquered!  Valley Catholic’s 7th and 8th graders finally go the chance to prove how insane their blackberry-removing muscles are.  Though no six-pack abs were gained, as some students hoped digging out hardy blackberry roots would give them, a lot of invasives were removed.  Before getting to work, they learned about how invasive Armenian Blackberry (Rubus armeniacus) prevents native plants from growing, creates a monoculture of just blackberry, preventing plant diversity, and has roots that do not stabilize the soil.  Here are some before and after shoots.  Drumroll……..

BEFORE — arr blackberry!

AFTER — Uncovered wooden beams and logs… interesting…

The first class set the bar pretty high, clearing out a huge chunk of Armenian blackberry.  5 rounds of the game “RIparian Metaphors”, 5 classes, 3 rakes, 10 loppers and 20 shovels later…students piled up high two huge mounds of blackberry brambles and roots that will die, decompose, and go back into the soil.  The group not only cleared away much of the blackberry, but also uncovered a treasure trove of wooden beams, some cut up logs and what seemed to be a raised garden bed.  I bet the school did not even know they were there! The classes did an awesome job and had great enthusiasm the whole day, too!  Some sounds clips from the day were….

“Wow, we set the bar pretty high for the other classes!”

“1, 2, 3…Invasives!”

“When are we coming back?  Tomorrow!?”

“The blackberries got me!”

“We’re the three rake-ateers!” (three girls who raked clippings)

“We’re saving the environment and spreading health.”

Thank you, Valley Catholic, both the students and the three substitute teachers, for your hard work and energy!  It was a blast and we hope to see you again soon!

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