articles and photos by Nell Doyle
Almost 30 NCAMN volunteers in their bright orange t-shirts fairly swarmed the gardens and trails of the Ozark Folk Center State Park on an early November Saturday, clearing away weed trees, brush, weeds, acorns, leaves and debris in and outside the OFC Craft Village and on the park’s trail that connects to Mountain View City Park.
OFC Superintendent John Morrow, his son Carson, Assistant Superintendent Ed Thomas and his wife Tammy also pitched in alongside the volunteers. Other OFC staff included herbalist Tina Marie Wilcox, gardener Jess Wingler, horticulturist Kathleen Connole and writer and workshop presenter Susan Belsinger.
“Our chapter has organized an annual fall work day in a public park since 2013. This is the second time since then that we’ve worked at OFC,” said Nell Doyle, NCAMN work day organizer and OFC team leader. “A volunteer team works in the Heritage Herb Garden two mornings a month throughout the year, but this work day gives us a chance to get some big projects done.”
Three years ago NCAMN volunteers built a bridge across a creek on the trail near City Park. This year, Gordon King, Ed Metcalf, Ron Beasley, and Mike Rees cleared away logs and other debris that had collected on and around the bridge during heavy spring rains. Other trail volunteers—Wendy R. Johnson, Jim Kouns, Rebecca Carabelas and Debbie Rees—cleared leaves and weeds off the main trail and cut back overgrowth on a trail that connects to the ball field. Mike Rees and John and Carson Morrow also installed directional signs at various points on the trails. Gordon and Wendy organized the trail work ahead of time so that it went very smoothly and productively.
Inside the Craft Village, workers harvested the last of the colorful peppers (capsicum) that were part of a display about the 2016 herb of the year, weeded a hillside garden and hauled away acorns by the basketful. Suzanne Harrison and Ginger Turk helped supervise a team that included Sue Hoeper, Dwan Garrison and Christina Laurin, as well as OFC’s Susan Belsinger and Jess Wingler.
Gordon King, Ron Beasley and Ed Metcalf spent quite a bit of time clearing brush and weed trees in the Craft Village’s woodland garden, which will help improve air circulation around the potting bench at the Herb Study Center.
Just outside the Village, another group of volunteers, led by Anne Criss and Liz Harris, rejuvenated “Butterfly Hill,” a pollinator garden that attracts butterflies and bees every year. Workers cut back and dug up invasive plants and raked leaves and pruned trees, leaving a palette that should be full of color next spring.
Meanwhile Tommie Walton and John Wilson tackled a huge vitex bush with loppers and the help of Gordon King’s chainsaw . Other members of the team included Joan Burr, Debbie Foster, Sally Soderblom, Ric Criss and Ellen Chagnon. Ron Beasley made sure that the trees Gordon King cut wouldn’t regrow by painting the freshly cut stumps with herbicide concentrate.
Daniel Foster wielded loppers and pruning saw to manicure a large but overgrown redbud tree near the Skillet Restaurant, while OFC assistant superintendent Ed Thomas used a pole saw to cut larger limbs. Ed’s wife Tammy helped haul away the cut branches with Nell Doyle’s and Tina Wilcox’s assistance.
In the greenhouse Donita Winters, Todd Dahlin, Carol Beasley, Janine Egerton and Joanne Wilson worked with OFC’s Kathleen Connole to transplant several flats of herbs and scented geraniums and to wash and sterilize pots, labels and flats.
“Master Naturalists do such a terrific job from week to week,” says OFC Herbalist Tina Marie Wilcox, “but the work they did this month was an immense improvement in a relatively short period of time. I am fairly overwhelmed by all they did.”