Monday, April 25, 2016

Busy Bees of the GNCE Continue their Work with Avalonia

By Jessica Sullivan

Sophomore GNCE Work Day

The sophomore members of the Goodwin-Niering Center for the Environment have not only been hard at work with their individual projects for Avalonia, but we also completed a group work day for Avalonia on Saturday, April 16th. The group of us went to the Perry Natural Area in Stonington. Our goal was to clear around and expose a historic stone foundation. We took the branches and other brush and made it into a brush pile off of the path which animals could use then as sheltering habitat. Next, we worked on clearing out the interior of the foundation of the house and made it so that it could be visible. We brushed off the stonework and put some fallen stones back into place. While we were doing this, we found many small shards of pottery from what we think might be the original house. We also found a button that may or may not have the same origin. A mystery.
The work day on April 16th was a huge success and the GNCE sophomores enjoyed helping out.

Goodwin-Niering Associate Director Jen Pagach posed for this picture as she carried a large branch to the brush pile.

After we finished our work for the day, Beth Sullivan took us on a walk through the trails in Perry Natural Area and explained the history of the area as we went. There is a very interesting cemetery just off of the trails that holds the graves of Prentice and Lucy Brown, very likely the couple who lived in the house and farmed the area and created many of the walls. Additionally we saw rock walls and enclosures built throughout the land that looked like they formed a fenced-in area that might have held animals. We also noted an interesting rock pile that had an unknown purpose but was definitely human-made with some intent.
The GNCE sophomores paid their respects at the graves of Prentice and Lucy Brown, settlers on this land.

GNCE sophomores, Associate Director Jen Pagach and Professor Derek Turner teamed up to clean up this old house foundation. 

Amateur archaeologists Clare Loughlin and Jen Pagach uncover some old pottery shards in the foundation.

Project Spotlight: Lauren and Saskia

Lauren Baretta and Saskia Stark-Ewing are working on a stewardship project for Avalonia that is rooted in the promotion of Avalonia at the Stonington Farmer’s Market. They went to their first farmer’s market on April 9th and plan another visit as well. Lauren explained their project, stating:

“On the 30th of April we are celebrating Arbor Day (April 29th) by handing out white pine seedlings from the table we have set up. We’ve been giving out information on trails, locations, and volunteer opportunities. We have talked to about ten to fifteen people spreading the word about Avalonia, and we have persuaded a handful of people to sign up for Avalonia’s newsletter. We raised a small amount of donations, but our main focus is really just spreading the word. A man gave us an organic tomato because he loved what we were doing so much. We also enjoyed a sweet grandmother who explained Avalonia to her young grandson, in front of us, trying to teach him about environmental stewardship. We think our next event will be even better now that we know how to set up our table and now that we've made an in-person connection with the man in charge of the market. Overall, I think we have made a real positive impact on Avalonia’s public relations, a farmer’s market being the perfect place to talk to people concerned about environmental protection.”

Lauren and Saskia interacted with community members interested in learning about Avalonia.

The following passage is taken from the weekly newsletter for the Stonington Farmer’s Market, highlighting Saskia and Lauren’s project. “On April 10th, 1872 one million trees were planted in celebration of the first Arbor Day. 144 years later Avalonia, a land trust organization based in Mystic that deeply cares about conservation and the creation of strong environmental communities, continues the tradition. Connecticut College Goodwin-Niering Center for the Environment students, Saskia and Lauren, will be representing Avalonia on Saturday, April 30th in honor of Arbor Day.”
Saskia and Lauren tested their Farmer's Market program April 9th.
We encourage everyone to stop by our table to learn more about Avalonia’s trails, values and projects. We will have information about volunteering as well as white pines for all to bring home. Take a tree; plant a tree! To contact Avalonia feel free to email:, call 860-884-3500, or visit our website”

We are very excited to see the success of the Farmer’s Market Program increase the next time they do it because it is so important to make sure that the community knows about Avalonia and all the great work it is doing for land conservation.

Photographs by Jessica Sullivan.

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