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Local schools participate in research project at Smokey House Center

Press NYVT Media

Published May 28, 2024

Students participating in an ongoing forest research project at the Smokey House Center

This spring students from six local schools including Dorset School, Mettawee Community School, Bennington College, Burr and Burton Academy, Currier Memorial School and Red Fox Community School are participating in forest research at Smokey House Center.

The students are exploring management strategies for ensuring long-term sustainability of ramp (wild onions) populations.

“The study is focused on understanding the long-term impacts of ramp harvesting and how humans can assist in dispersing ramps across our landscapes,” said Smokey House Center Program Director Walker Cammack. “Through a number of different ramp patch plots on the property, students are helping to determine best harvesting practices for forest farmers and wild harvesters alike.”

The study, started this spring, is set to continue many years into the future. Students will return to their plots each year to evaluate changes within different ramp populations over time.

Participants, ranging from preschool to college, have helped set up research plots in the forest, harvest ramps and transplant ramps into new areas of the forest at Smokey House Center. Along the way students have learned about spring ephemeral identification, basic tree identification, harvesting and transplanting methods, cultural uses of ramps, and basic scientific design and data collection methods.

While this project is in some ways a reiteration of Smokey House’s Field Studies program of the past, this new research program involving youth education embodies the participatory values at the core of the Living Lab, the Center’s new keystone program.

Students’ efforts will play a key role in setting up long-term research that supports the work of Living Lab scientists, develop best practices for climate-smart non-timber forest product (NTFP) production, and help source ramp planting stock for Smokey House’s at-risk plant nursery.

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