Monday, April 29, 2013

College Trustees Visit Agroforestry Site

            Trustee spouses strike a pose with Forest Biology students. From left: (Back Row) Mike Davis, Lance Buhl (Front Row) Maeve O'Connor, Ally Wilson, Monica Laramee, Doug Whitfield, Sandy Ummel, Lolly Copeland
Dave Ellum's Forest Biology class had the opportunity to host several spouses of the College's Trustees at the River Bend Agroforestry Site while they were in town for President Solnick's Inauguration. The group learned about the research and demonstration site which not only integrates forest-agriculture interfaces, but also provides opportunities for collaboration between work crews, academic classes and local permaculture organizations. The project is designed to show scale appropriate methods for developing perennial polycultures that can increase biodiversity, diversify landowner revenue streams and conserve forested and agricultural landscapes. The project is in early stages of development and has been generously funded by an ELC Campus Green Grant and The Tavener Family Foundation. Read the ECHO story here.

Initial implementation of the site tested three methods for removing pasture grasses and excluding grasses from future stages. One method employed horse disking to kill grass and sheet mulching combined with wood chops for exclusion (above). A second method employed hogs on a dense stocking for 10 days on small paddocks and woodchips without sheet mulching for exclusion (below). A third long-term method is using black locust (Robinia psuedoacacia) on an 8"x10" spacing to shade out grass over time (not shown). The horse method proved most effective, while the hog method removed all grasses except bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon) which came back after one growing season to dominate the site. 

Prescribed Burn at Group Selection in Berea

(Piled slash ignites and burns hot at the center of the site)

Last week, students from Dave Ellum's Silviculture class joined Forestry Crew students to burn one of two group selections sites in the Berea compartment of The College Forest. Both sites were cut in 2010 by the crew. The goals of the burn included educating forestry students on the procedures and effects of prescribed burning, as well as to encourage the regeneration of white pine.

All students who join the Forestry Crew undergo basic (S130/S190/L180) wildland firefighter training. In addition to taking part in prescribed burns on campus, many also get the opportunity to assist the local US Forest Service wildland firefighting crew in fighting local forest fires. Some Forestry Crew members have taken this opportunity as far as fighting fire on hotshot crews with the Forest Service in Alaska and Idaho.

 (Silviculture student Bo Dossett and crew member Morgan Kaelin tend the fire line)

(Crew member Eric Damtoft, outfitted in official USFS gear, watches the blaze)

Monday, April 15, 2013

Caleb Hawkins Advances to National Championship

Student Caleb Hawkins won the Stihl Mid-Atlantic Regional Qualifier Timbersports competition this weekend, and will be advancing to the National Collegiate Championship on June 9th. Caleb placed first in stock saw, second in single buck, third in underhand chop, and fourth in standing block chop.

 (Caleb signs an autograph for a young fan)

 He won a $1000 scholarship and two round-trip plane tickets to the Championship. His victory, airing
on ESPN, will be shown at Warren Wilson at a later date to be announced.

 (Caleb wins the stock saw event)

 (College president Steve Solnick gives an interview on ESPN)
(Caleb gives an interview for ESPN cameras post-victory)

 (Coach Shawn Swartz and Champion Caleb Hawkins)

See official results at:

Friday, April 12, 2013

Forestry Crew Makes Black Cohosh Tincture

 (Hannah Billian, Frank Secret, Shawn Swartz, and Peter Simmons, 
about to perform the first step of the tincture-making process)

The crew has been perfecting their newest non-timber forest product: tincture made from the common understory medicinal herb black cohosh that grows in natural and cultivated plots on campus.  Senior crew member Hannah Billian worked on writing a set of Good Management Practices (GMP's) with information obtained from a class offered by the NC BioNetwork. The GMP's follow the Code of Federal Regulations required by the FDA for botanical dietary supplements. The tincture was produced in a two-step process at Blue Ridge Food Ventures, with the help of employee Chris Reedy.

Forestry students at Warren Wilson learn that herbal non-timber forest products are an important consideration in many forest ecosystems, particularly to small landowners. They provide an alternative means of income when logging is not an option, and are also ecologically valuable for wildlife, aesthetic value, and as indicator species.
(Chris Reedy explains part of the process to Pete)

 (Hannah displays tincture about to be pressed)
(Crewmembers Hannah, Liam, and Dylan work on pressing 
and bottling the tincture at Blue Ridge Food Ventures)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Forest Manager Teaches Small Engines Class at Organic Grower's School

Shawn Swartz, forest manager and crew supervisor, taught a small engines class at the 2013 Organic Grower's School in Asheville with the help of student crew member Caleb Hawkins. The class focused on chainsaw maintenance and repair, but other small engine system components were also looked at, particularly ones that would be useful for landowners (Water pumps, winches, lawnmowers, weedeaters, etc.).

Monday, April 8, 2013

Warren Wilson Timbersports Team Ties for 3rd at Tennessee Stud

The Warren Wilson College Timbersports team is on a roll this year. This Saturday saw them at the Tennessee Stud competition in Knoxville, proving once again that they are a force to be reckoned with. Student Caleb Hawkins won the distinction of being the official 'Tennessee Stud', having won the the most points out of all males at the meet. Wilson students took first place in arm wrestling, male stock saw, Jill/Jill crosscut, and male underhand speed chop, and tied for third place overall with West Virginia.

(Caleb Hawkins and Xenia Pantos Compete in the Jack and Jill Crosscut event)

Caleb Hawkins will be competing April 14th in the Mid-Atlantic Qualifier hosted by Haywood Community College. Good luck to him, and congrats to the hard-working members of the Timbersports Team!

 (The team with their trophies)

Warren Wilson College Standings                             
-1st place: Arm Wrestling                                               
-1st place: Male Stock Saw                                           
-1st place: Jill/Jill Crosscut                                             
-1st place: Male Underhand Speed Chop                       
-2nd place: Knife Throwing                                            
-2nd place: Female Stock Saw
-2nd place: Jack/Jill Crosscut
-2nd place: Female Underhand Speed Chop
-2nd place: Team Relay
-3rd place: Single Buck
-3rd place: Log Burling
-3rd place: Standing Block Chop

Overall Standings
1st Place: Tennessee (27 points)
2nd Place: Haywood (26 points)
3rd Place: WWC and West Virginia (22 points)
5th Place: Kentucky (20 points)
6th Place: Virginia Tech (15 points)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

From Tree to Chair: The Fine Woodworking Crew/Forestry Crew Connection

Forest Manager Shawn Swartz participated in a woodworking workshop led by professional chair-maker Elia Bizzarri in March not only to gain a new set of skills, but also to assess a major aspect of wood production at Warren Wilson College. Much of the hardwood that is milled by the forestry crew winds up at the fine woodworking crew's shop, where it is crafted into beautiful pieces of furniture or musical instruments.

Making a Windsor Chair is an arduous process that begins with a log and finishes with a handmade piece of furniture. It takes an in-depth knowledge of the nature of wood fibers, grain, and growth patterns to be able to make them well. This principle applies to much of fine woodworking crew's projects.

The milling techniques the forestry crew uses are currently aimed to produce lumber of high structural quality with maximum efficiency. Shawn partook in the Windsor Chair Workshop in order to better understand the woodworking process so that forestry crew can tailor the milling process to fit the fine woodworking crew's needs.