Tag Archives: Free The Fern

South Van Strawberry Social June 5, 2022

12 May

In South Vancouver, there is amazing non-profit called Free The Fern that has been working hard to remove invasive plants from the Red Alder Trail in Champlain Heights. In doing so, they’ve built a great community supporting their work. Their projects have been funded in part by TD Park People and Neighbourhood Small Grants.  This is a passionate group making a difference in their community.   On Sunday, June 5th, they are hosting an event and showcasing their passion and projects with you.  

Free The Fern invites you to the South Van Strawberry Social being held Sunday, June 5th from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm on the Red Alder Trail, 3530 Swansacre.  On hand, you can expect to find:

  • 200 free servings of strawberries (with shortcake and whipped cream) – First come first serve.
  • live music, including a 20s-40s jazz trio.
  • local craft vendors: Resistance Kitters (fundraising for Ukraine), Wild Rose Natural SkincareGoodfellow Craftery, and more.
  • an eco art workshop: learn how to make a pencil from an invasive blackberry stem.
  • tours of our new Douglas Fir Teaching Garden: with hundreds of native flowers, berries, and ferns. Note, this teaching garden includes a Douglas Fir which is estimated at 162 years old.

To learn more, visit them online at Free The Fern or reach out to them directly at freethefern@gmail.com.

National Invasive Species Awareness Week February 28 to March 4, 2022

28 Feb

February 28 to March 4, 2022 is National Invasive Species Awareness Week. What are invasive species and why should you care?

By happenstance, we’ve been learning a bit more about invasive plants over the last couple of years. It started with working with the City of Vancouver to create Green Street Gardens on City owned landed. It has been an ongoing learning process throughout that time. It also meant removing some invasive shrubs like Himalayan Blackberries and grasses. There are many groups doing this kind of work all over the Province of BC. One local group Free The Fern launched during the pandemic works with volunteers to remove invasive plants in Champlain Heights and replacing them with native plants, but invasive species are not limited to plants.

So what are invasive species? “An invasive species is an introduced organism that becomes overpopulated and harms its new environment. Although most introduced species are neutral or beneficial with respect to other species, invasive species adversely affect habitats and bioregions, causing ecological, environmental, and/or economic damage“. Wikipedia

Why should you care? Native plants, animals and habitats provide us with ecosystem services such as removal of pollution, recreational opportunities, food and medicine, protection of water, soil, climate and nutrients. Some invasive plants are toxic and could cause medical problems for wildlife, domestic animals and people.

On walks, we often see English Ivy crawling up the trunks of trees which looks beautiful, but in effect is killing the tree by suffocating it. Urban wildlife and people will be relying on those trees more as we deal with climate change going forward. To learn how you can play your part in protecting our environment from invasive species, we encourage you to check all the information provided by the Invasive Species Council of British Columbia. ISCBC is an action-oriented organization working to stop the spread of invasive species in BC. They spearhead behaviour change in communities, organizations, governments and industry to help protect our province’s healthy habitats from invasive species. What can you do? We’ve set out some of the Invasive Species Council of BC’s programs below to help you become aware of things you can do to help stop the spread of invasives species in BC.

Don’t Let It Loose

Do not let unwanted pets like goldfish, rabbits, turtles and frogs loose in the wild. If you no longer want a pet, return it to the pet store you purchased it from, rehome it or deliver it to an appropriate animal rescue organization. For instance, Rabbitats in Richmond focuses on rescuing and rehoming rabbits. Do the right thing.

Plant Wise

Are you a new gardener? Learn to be Plant Wise and become aware of what plants are considered invasive before planting anything in the ground. Most reputable garden centres have stopped selling invasive plants, but some still do. There are many alternatives.

Buy Local Burn Local

If you are planning to go camping soon and plan to have a camp fire, ensure you buy and burn local wood. Why? Moving firewood, to or from a campground or cabin, can spread invasive species and diseases that can destroy forests and harm our air and water.

Clean Drain Dry

If you are planning on participating in any water sports such as boating, kayaking or taking the canoe out, you can easily spread invasives from one body of water to another. These aquatic invaders are entering BC’s beautiful lakes, streams, and wetlands. Boaters, anglers and paddlers can all take action now to help stop the spread by practicing Clean Drain Dry. 

Play Clean Go

You can stop invasive species in its tracks with cleaning your shoes when travelling to and from different areas. Seeds are easily transferred by shoes.

Report A Weed

To help curtail the spread of invasives, knowing where they are located is key. To that end, YOU can be a steward of your own neighbourhood by reporting invasives to the Invasive Species Council of BC. It’s easy to do on your walks, hikes and travels around Vancouver, or within the Province. There are several ways to report invasives, but we found the easiest is the Report A Weed app. We’ve given this one a test run. It’s easy to use, take a photo, provide some contact info and submit. If you are unsure if something is in fact an invasive, iNaturalist is an excellent app and resource. If you aren’t already familiar with this app, upload a photo and the app with determine through AI what the plant is and at the same other citizen scientists will provide feedback as to their observations and can help confirm the identity of the plant.

What’s a really bad invasive? There are a number and that answer may vary depending on where you live in the Province. There are some invasives that are toxic to grazing animals, but for those of us located in Vancouver, our guess would be Japanese Knotweed. Japanese Knotweed has bamboo like stems and roots so strong, they can penetrate thick asphalt. This invasive can damage building foundations, pipes and if on your property, devalue your home. If you’d like to learn more about invasive species and how you can do your part to stop the spread of invasives, we invite you to visit Invasive Species Council of BC.

Volunteers Needed For Community Planting Event October 24th

2 Oct

Local group Free The Fern is hosting a Community Planting Event on October 24th from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm. They are on the hunt for volunteer planters.  

For a bit of history for those unfamiliar with this group’s work, Free the Fern is an environmental stewardship group formed in 2021 that is located in South Vancouver. Their 20 members have spent over 360 volunteer hours removing 49 tons of invasive weeds from the Champlain Heights Trail. Thanks to a TD Park People Grant and donations from community members, they will now be replanting native plants along this forested trail some of which include perennial flowers, berries and ferns. 

They need volunteers to make this event a success.  Free the Fern is on the hunt for volunteers of all ages and abilities to sign up to help on October 24th. There are opportunities as well for those who may not be up for the physical work of planting.  To sign up or ask questions, you can email organizers directly at freethefern@gmail.com or sign up with the Google Documents Volunteer Sign-Up Form.

Free The Fern: Invasive Education 101 – June 12, 2021

3 May

The popularity in gardening has increased immensely during the pandemic. For anyone doing a bit of gardening, or just walking through trails in our parks around Vancouver, you might see invasive species taking over some natives species. Free The Fern is a non-profit organization based in SE Vancouver working hard to remove invasive species. They recently hosted a Zoom session with over 70 participants for which there was a waiting list. It is a hot topic for those wishing to ensure our native plants survive and thrive. The recent Zoom session was a great way to get information and there is more detailed info online at Invasive Species Council of Metro Vancouver and Grow Green. If you prefer to get your hands dirty, literally with some hands on experience removing invasive plants, Free The Fern invites you to the Champlain Heights Trail on June 12th. Experienced volunteers will lead 2 groups for a 50 minute session with a maximum of 6 participants. They will show you how to remove invasive species like like English Ivy, Himalayan Blackberry and Common Periwinkle, a common ground cover. This is an outdoor event with physical distancing protocols in effect. The event is also free, but registration is required. To book a 50 minute time slot, email freethefern@gmail.com.

Covid-Safety Protocols:

  • outdoor location
  • mask wearing
  • bring your own garden gloves
  • sanitized tools provided
  • physical distancing in effect
  • book a 50 min time slot
  • max of 10 (six participants and 4 volunteer leaders) per session.

Free The Fern Hosts Invasive Removal Zoom Session April 28, 2021

11 Apr

If you are interested in learning about the best practices for removing common invasive weeds, Free The Fern invites you to a free Zoom session on Wednesday, April 28th 7:00 – 8:30 pm.  You will learn the skills to remove invasive plants like Himalayan Blackberry, English Ivy and others from your garden or other green space.  Free the Fern is a new local organization based in SE Vancouver that was founded in January 2021. It is a group of 14 community members and environmental stewards living within Champlain Heights.  They, like many others, realize invasive plants have already spread throughout our local parks and green spaces. Free the Fern was created to decrease the spread of invasives along the Champlain Heights Trail with a mission to replace the invasive species with native plants.  If you are interested in participating in the Zoom session, pre-registration is required email them directly to register at freethefern@gmail.com.  

Free The Fern is also hosting a fundraiser to raise money for adding new native plants to the Champlain Heights Trail. Hand painted canvases by Christine (Kiki) Nombrado featuring local birds and plants are available for sale for $15 each (5″ x 7”) or 3 for $40. 100% of the proceeds will go to fund native planting on the Champlain Heights Trail this Fall.  To purchase the art work, we invite you to reach out to freethefern@gmail.com. To follow along on Instagram, visit them at FreeTheFern.

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