Conservation may mean herbicides?

This past weekend, one of our projects, 727 S 13th ST: A Sacred Seed Pop-Up came to life. We were all excited for the day, after so many months and meetings of planning, we were set to get started digging.

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No More Empty Pots’ master gardener, Nancy Scott, who had been influential in helping to strategize our planting, started by organizing plants by expected height, flowering time and longevity. The Nature Conservancy donated over 150 plants, native flowers and grasses. Nancy and Jill, pictured here, came early to do the sorting. I mostly moved things around according to Nancy’s direction and enjoyed the giggles and smiles as they read the labels to each other, reveling in the beauty we were planning to plant.

It was a joy to watch all of us, and new volunteers, who’d been planning for months to get out into the dirt and dig! Taylor started the event with a Prayer Ceremony that honored our Creator and asked Him to bless the soil, our relationships and our work. It was powerful.

The rest of the morning, we were digging, planting and watering our seeds and plants. Some of us noticed the grass that was appearing around the edges of the beds. Armed with shovels and spades, we began tearing out the grass only to realize it was everywhere. Our hopes were dashed, here we were planting all of these marvelous indigenous seeds that would have grass growing around them in a matter of days or weeks. Our furor against these invasive predators grew as we tried to dig deep into the soil and eradicate all of these villains!

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I asked our Kinghorn Garden designer, Nate, pictured here with his wife and girls, how deep the soil had to be to exterminate the grass. His sad reply was that the grass will just keep coming. Chagrined, Nate offered me a solution to the grass problem. I was excited but saddened with his reply of what is a dirty word to me, Roundup. He explained that there is no way to completely rid an area of grass without Roundup. Nate said someone will need to spray Roundup to get rid of the grass. He said this was the only solution.

I decided to ask some others on the team. Most admitted that yes, this was probably the best and most lasting solution to the grass epidemic. As I shared this idea with Eliza, from The Nature Conservancy she could see the sadness I felt about adding chemicals on our indigenous plot. She put her arm around me and explained how one view of conservation. Invasive species have to be contained and sometimes the best way to do this could be applying herbicides. Conservation, as Eliza shared, is how to keep the life of the land healthy and sustainable. If the grass could choke out our Ancient Watermelons or Mongolian Sunflowers, we must kill it.


Nancy, my mentor/boss/friend/advocate didn’t see why we must use Roundup. She wondered how this would affect the food we are growing here and why mulch couldn’t be applied to meet the same goal of eradicating the grass. The conservation conversation will continue, for now no Roundup has been purchased or applied.

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The day was beautiful, the companionship compelling and being outside getting dirt under my nails made for a wonderful experience.

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