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Help Wanted: NFA Establishing A Wildflower Field



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Wildflowers will soon bring color and life to a grassy meadow at Blackman Preserve, a 3.7-acre parcel on the corner of Blackman and Mt Pleasant Roads.

Owned by Newtown Forest Association (NFA), a private land trust, the land is being transformed this spring into a field of wildflowers thanks to a project being led by NFA member Harvey Pessin. NFA is working in concert with the Parks and Recreation Department, C.H. Booth Library, The Garden Club of Newtown, and Protect Our Pollinators to plan "a major beautification project" at the preserve.

NFA's plan is to replace the grass with wildflowers. The flowers will promote pollinators, and attract bees and ground nesting birds and insects. Residents will also benefit from the beauty of this field of flowers.

At a past NFA meeting Mr Pessin had suggested doing the project for two reasons: to improve the field for the pollinators, and to involve residents.

"I want people to contribute flowers, seeds, cuttings to the field and feel a part of it," he said. "And travelers going by can see more of a meadow with flowers, bushes… It will be a work in progress and I am hoping to get as many people as I can to come forward.

"I hope it becomes a community project," added Mr Pessin, who is also seeking volunteers who would like to help work at the property in addition to NFA college and high school interns.

NFA President Bob Eckenrode said the association wants "to share what we do with the public and demonstrate good stewardship practices." Blackman Preserve "is a seasonal meadow that we are enhancing with the flowers for the pollinators - recreating a portion of meadow for wildflowers for the bees and butterflies," he said.

This pilot wildflower project is partially funded through the NFA budget. NFA members are also reaching out to people who wish to donate.

Beyond monetary support, NFA is inviting residents to contribute seeds from their own gardens, legally harvested from open spaces, from garden centers, from online seed companies, or by other creative means. NFA would also like donations of plant divisions in from early spring and late fall.

So far, Mr Pessin has begun planting perennials that people have donated. He seeks additional contributions or any kind of seeds or low growing plants.

"The more diverse, the healthier the field will be," he said. "It's not a garden, and is supposed to look as natural as possible."

Those who wish to contribute plants can contact Mr Pessin at harveypessin@gmail.com.

In addition, seed collection baskets can be found at C.H. Booth Library, 25 Main Street; and the Parks & Recreation offices, within the lower level of Town Hall South, 3 Main Street.

Supporters who would like to donate can send a check to Newtown Forest Association, PO Box 213, Newtown CT 06470. Indicate "wildflower seeds" in the memo line.

The NFA maintains meadows at several of its locations. Members will "seasonally mow and manage for songbirds and bees and butterflies," Mr Eckenrode said. "The most endangered habitat in Fairfield County is grasslands and meadows, and we recognize that fact."

The Newtown Forest Association Land Trust is the oldest private land trust in Connecticut. It is a nonprofit organization dedicated to accumulating and preserving open spaces and forests for public enjoyment and for future generations. Currently, it stewards and protects more than 1,100 acres in Newtown.

For additional information visit newtownforestassociation.org.

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Gardener Rob Cuchetto recently delivered his second load of native Rudbeckia root divisions from Mary Stambaugh's gardens and fields in Newtown. The species is commonly called coneflowers or black-eyed Susans, and will grow 5 to 7 feet tall. He is planting these root divisions as part of Newtown Forest Association's efforts to establish a field of wildflowers at its Blackman Preserve. (Harvey Pessin photo)
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