Native Plant Hike & Gathering This Week
Story & photo by Sally Wagoner
The first of “seasonal” guided hikes and gatherings will take place on Wednesday, August 31, 6pm – 8pm at Coolbough Natural Areas. This is a free event, with donations accepted. Coolbough is located between Croton and Newaygo off Croton Drive and Barberry Avenue.
Hosted by Carmen Marie Alfaro, the hike invites anyone interested in learning or sharing knowledge about native plants and local ecology. “Coolbough Natural Areas are home to the rare Oak Savanna, a threatened natural community traditionally stewarded by Indigenous Peoples. They are now maintained by The Coolbough Natural Areas Environmental Commission and The Nature Conservancy. This unique ecosystem is packed with incredible flora and fauna,” stated Carmen.
Participants are encouraged to wear long pants, bring water to drink, use non-toxic insect repellent if needed, and be ready to share seeds and stories. Carmen continues,“I spent about 2 hours at Coolbough recently in preparation for the hike, and easily identified over 45 unique floral species as well as a few fungal friends.”
Owner of the new Sunhart Center of Ecology and Design, Carmen’s unique training provides sustainability-focused landscaping design services in the Newaygo County area. With training and experience in native wildflower prairie and wetlands installation, permaculture design, integrated food-forest creation and management, and invasive species removal, the Sunhart Center ensures that all projects have a minimal carbon footprint and practices mindfulness of sound pollution and clutter.
“I’ve always had a passion for listening to and working with the Land. As a Wixárika person, I believe in honoring the spirit of Mother Earth, Sister Water and all of our plant and animal relatives. With the recent listing of the Monarch butterfly on the endangered species list, I realized the time to give back to my community is now. I want to make a world where our children and grandchildren can enjoy clean air, clean waters and abundant nature. A better world is possible,” shared Carmen.
The hike will be slow-paced over prairie and wooded trails, with frequent stops along the way to identify plants and share knowledge. Those who wish to walk for only part of the adventure may go back to their cars at any time.
For more information about the Coolbough Hike & Gathering, contact Carmen Marie Alfaro at firstname.lastname@example.org, (231) 450-4590, or by visiting the Events link on Facebook @Sunhart Center of Ecology & Design.
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