Video | Sheep, Seeds, and Swales: An Update from Project Pando

Here's a recap of what we accomplished this year at our volunteer-driven tree nursery that sustainably grows native trees to give to the public for free.

Hi, I'm EB. I'm the director of Project Pando and today we're going to give you a one-year update of what's been going on out here at Pandoland.

So over the past year one of the biggest projects we completed was to install our water management system, and this is the foundation for most of the design that will happen on the nursery.

So the main tool of our water management system is this swale and berm system. A swale is basically just a cut in channel — into the ground — that when the water flows it captures that water, and either holds it in place or spreads it to another location. And a berm is a mounded hill. Ours are right on the backside of our swales, and they help store and capture even more water.

I'm standing in front of our pond. This is the most dramatic feature of our water management system. And this pond is entirely filled by our swale and berm, and only our uppermost swelling berm. So this swale runs about 850 feet across the property. It ends at where that power pole is over there, and during a big rain, I would be standing in a rushing creek, that would all flow into the pond, and fill it up. So we don't have a well on this property, and one of our goals is to use as much collected rain water as possible for our tree propagation.

So here's a great example of the swale and berm at work. This water is being held from some rain that we got probably four days ago, and without the swale and berm it might be halfway to the ocean now, but instead it's still being held on this landscape. And slowly infiltrating into the soil.

Here I'd like to introduce you to our newest Pandoland residents. This is Oreo, Sweet Pea and Rose and their family. And they are six sheep that were recently brought onto the land, and they are amazing at grazing this large field. So they'll help us keep control of the grasses, and other weeds and allow us to grow trees in between them. And before we relied on fossil fuel burning mowers and bushhoggers to do their work. So these guys are a much more sustainable way to manage these fields.

So over the next year as we continue to work with this land it'll become the propagation space for the many trees that we can then plant out in the community. It'll be a great place to get your hands dirty, as most of our nursery is run by volunteers. It'll be a place for education, we'll have tree id walks and other activities like that. It'll also be a space for inspiration, there are many beautiful trees and ecosystems already out here that we hope to improve upon. So we can't wait to see you out here.

So there are many different ways you can help out with Project Pando. One of the best ways is by becoming a volunteer. Volunteers help out with all sorts of projects here at Pandoland. And another great thing volunteers do is collect native tree seeds. We use those native tree seeds to grow the trees for our nursery. You can find those seeds in your backyard, out here at Pandoland, on the edge of streets, or in parks. And if you collect them we have multiple drop-off sites throughout the Triangle that you can bring those seeds to and we'll use them in our nursery. So we've got lots of big projects planned out here and we'd love to have your help.

Here's an example of some black oak acorns that were collected by a volunteer at Duke's campus. These are beautiful seeds, and we would take these, and plant them out at our nursery. And one option for that is planting them in these air pruning boxes, which I'm standing right in front of. We love this growing container because it allows us to plant a high amount of trees in a small space. So you can see here I'm standing between two rows of air pruning boxes, and in about the size of two parking spaces we can grow ten thousand trees in these boxes alone! Which is amazing!

And you can see behind me some of last year's trees, we've got white oaks, red oaks, cherry laurels, and some other species mixed in there. And so these were planted about nine months ago, and pretty soon we will transplant them out and plant them directly in the community, or plant them in pots like these. This is a red bud here, and here's a black walnut, and these pots will be available to be picked up by the community for free and planted wherever you please.

We've had a great first year! We had a lot of fun, we got a lot accomplished. A big shout out to TLC and all the volunteers for making this all happen, and we can't wait to see what happens next year!

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