Look for new features like wildflowers and a healthy streambank in the FSR Gwynne Conservation Area.
The nearly 70-acre facility, part of the Farm Science Review’s host site, the Molly Caren Agricultural Center in London, has two new projects underway — one to diversify its prairie plantings; the other, to protect the banks of Deer Creek, which flows through the grounds.
FSR Manager Zachrich said the projects offer two benefits: They improve the Gwynne itself year round. And they demonstrate practices that farmers can take home and use on their own land, too.
Asters, milkweeds, blazing stars and coneflowers are some of the many wildflowers being planted in new seed mixes in the Gwynne’s 10-plus acres of prairie.
Previously, the Gwynne’s prairie plantings were mostly just two grasses: big bluestem and Indian grass. The new seed mixes, which add wildflowers to the grasses, offer more benefits to pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, and to wildlife.
The prairie project also is demonstrating wildflower- and wildlife-friendly management methods — involving disking, burning, removing residue or a combination. Mike Retterer, an Ohio-based biologist with the nonprofit Pheasants Forever, helped develop the strategies.
Gwynne visitors can also check out Willow fascines (bundles of live stems that are planted, take root and grip soil) and riprap (large chunks of rock) — two of the tools helping to restore Deer Creek’s stream bank. As a first step, however, members of the Ohio Land Improvement Contractors of America, a longtime FSR partner, will excavate the streambank, reduce its slope and eliminate an unstable undercut.
They Gwynne is also the place to catch up with experts about the mysterious beech leaf disease causing striped and curled leaves, weak buds, and sometimes the death of saplings in northeast Ohio; branch-tip damage from cicada outbreaks; powdery mildew on flowering dogwoods; thousand cankers disease in walnuts; the Asian long-horned beetle; and the spotted lantern fly, which hasn’t in fact been spotted in Ohio but is present in eastern Pennsylvania.
All the activities in the Gwynne area during the FSR are included free with admission. The activities include dozens of talks, demonstrations and exhibits. Free wagon rides boarding at the FSR’s west end will take you to the Gwynne, the FSR’s harvesting demonstrations, and back to the west end. No stamp or wristband needed.