What an exciting and eventful year 2014 has been for the land at Holy Wisdom Monastery. The Friends of Wisdom Prairie came into existence to assist the sisters in caring for the earth. And, wow, have they done a great job of doing that. They worked on the land, performing the many land management tasks that are needed to carry out ecological restorations and to sustain them over time. We had a huge prairie seed sowing on nearly 20 acres of what had been agricultural land. 98 volunteers had a wonderful experience of planting about 100 different kinds of prairie seeds under the expert guidance of Wayne Pauly of Dane County Parks and the highly trained and experienced Friends of Wisdom Prairie members Ron Endres, Will Mann, Nancy Schlimgen, and Randy Hoffman. Anecdotal reports that I have heard indicate what a wonderful experience it was for the many volunteers who came to help with this good work.
The Friends of Wisdom Prairie volunteers have also done many other important tasks that all can be construed as caring for the earth. This includes removal of weedy trees and shrubs to make way for a large, many-acre savanna, and the removal of other weedy trees and shrubs from our prairies and woodlands. In addition, we had our annual harvest of garlic mustard and reed canary grass.
The Friends of Wisdom Prairie planted and harvested enthusiasm from its members through environmental conservation-oriented programs such as our Dinner Lectures and Outings to other natural areas. It seems to me that we won’t be able to care for the earth very well if we don’t have an enthusiastic group of people to do the caring. My sense is that we have engaged a lot of people and they are excited about contributing to the well-being of creation. It is good work.
I am even more enthusiastic about the prospects for our future efforts of caring for the earth. We have a comprehensive land management plan in hand that calls for the restoration and management of all the southern Wisconsin fire communities that occupied this land previous to European settlement. This includes not only prairie but also savanna and oak woodlands. And of course we have a couple ponds with their associated wet lands and pond inhabitants.
We plan on planting an additional 10-13 acres of prairie on May 2, 2015. You are all welcome to come and help us with that prairie restoration. A storm water detention facility is being planned for a part of the old soy bean field where the prairie is being planted. Eventually, prairie plants will also be planted over the storm water basin.
This winter, we will be cutting weedy trees and shrubs from the ditch along County Road M so they do not act as a source of weed seeds in the future. We will also be cutting trees and shrubs from the land just north of the field we planted to prairie last fall. This area will become the savanna in future years, although it will take us several years to cleanse it of weeds before most of the savanna can be planted. The one exception is that we will be planting some of the burr oak trees of the savanna next spring.
The vision for the trajectory of all this effort is just wonderful to contemplate. I anticipate it looking like the magnificent wilderness of prairie, savanna and forest that covered this land for centuries. The pioneers that settled this land were awe struck by the beauty of this landscape. We want our children to be awe struck by its beauty once again.
Join the Friends of Wisdom Prairie and help us in this good work focusing on the Benedictine value of stewardship of creation.