What's Going on at Wolbach?

White plastic sheets cover the ground around the original pollinator garden and the bee hotel.
White plastic sheets cover the ground around the original pollinator garden and the bee hotel.
Volunteers helped to build the Bee Hotel at SVT's Wolbach Farm
Volunteers helped to build the Bee Hotel at SVT's Wolbach Farm

If you've visited SVT's Wolbach Farm in Sudbury during the past two years, you may have noticed some curious activity on the hill behind our office building.

In 2016, with the help of many volunteers, AmeriCorps member Jesse Koyen planted a 24’ by 30’ pollinator meadow at Wolbach Farm. He also built and installed a “bee hotel” for nesting solitary bees. This unsual-looking structure is filled with hollow sticks and logs--just the sort of habitat these important pollinators need.

This year,  AmeriCorps member Paige Dolci has been working to expand the Wolbach Farm pollinator meadow to 58’ by 108’ and educate the public about the importance of pollinators. The lawn around the original pollinator meadow is now covered by large white plastic sheets--not something you expect to see at an SVT property. 

With help from students at Acton-Boxborough Regional High School, Paige removed invasive shrubs from the expanded plot so she could put down the plastic sheets for a "soil solarization" project. Soil solarization is a non-chemical method of controlling pests, weeds, and invasive species using energy from the sun.  

Over a period of several days, Paige and her volunteers spread large pieces of industrial, clear plastic over the plot and buried all edges in shallow trenches to trap heat underneath to kill the vegetation. We'll remove the plastic in the fall, after the heat of the summer has passed. In Spring 2019, we'll seed the plot with a mix of native wildflowers and grasses that provide habitat for pollinating insects and birds.

Paige will also be enhancing the existing pollinator garden this summer with plants from the New England Wildflower Society. The Boys and Girls Club of Assabet Valley will join her to learn about pollinators and how to protect them.

Paige won't be around to plant the seeds or see the results of her work--her year of service ends this month--but her efforts should have a long-lasting impact on the bees, butterflies, and birds of the area. And she is developing a planting and maintenance plan for the new meadow that she will pass on to the next AmeriCorps member.