Forestry and Gardening

Art of Smokey Bear

Aug 11, 2014
Rudy Wendelin, Trees Give Us Many Things, National Agricultural Library, U.S. Department of Agriculture

The Virginia Department of Forestry celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, and fans of the forests will mark the 70th birthday of the best known fire fighter – Smokey Bear. 

Since he was introduced to the American public 70 years ago, Smokey’s been portrayed by a number of artists, but it was a Virginia painter, Rudy Wendelin, who made this bear the icon he is today.

“He made him more human, he has fingers, he smiles, he wears blue jeans, he has a shovel, and as we say, a little less bear-like.”

Just as the season for getting outdoors gets into full swing, so does a noxious weed that can take the fun out of summer outings.

Poison Ivy, which causes an itchy rash in eighty per cent of people who come in contact with it, is on the rise in the US, fueled by rising C-O2 levels.

But scientists at Virginia Tech have found that the weed contains the seeds of its own destruction –a kind of poison pill could be used to control the plant in the landscape.

 

American Chestnut trees used make up twenty-five percent of the Appalachian forest.  A blight, in the early 1900s changed that, and today they’re all but gone from the forests from Georgia to Maine. 

But the tree left us a way to resurrect it from the dead, and with it, a kind of message:  Only with the help of human beings will the towering Chestnuts return. 

"I was raised here in the valley and when I started hunting, about 1960 or so there were still these old gray giant trunks standing in the woods," says Carl Absher a semi-retired forester from the Catawba Valley.  

Farmers' Markets on the Rise

Apr 17, 2014

There are now  more than 240 farmers' markets statewide, an increase of about 180% since 2006.

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services says if every household in the state spends ten-bucks  a week on locally-grown food, it would mean a $1.6 billion dollar investment back into the economy.

You can find a list of farmers' markets across Virginia here.

Celebrating Woodlands

Mar 24, 2014
Courtesy of The Montpelier Foundation

There’s a big weekend ahead for those who love trees, with a Historic Tree symposium in Charlottesville, a lecture in Blacksburg, and an Old Growth Forest walk at Montpelier.

James Madison’s family thought nothing of clearing the woods around their plantation in 1723.  In fact, most Americans viewed trees as an impediment to farming, but a convenient source of building materials and food.  Later in life, Madison would come to regret that view.  Horticulturist Sandy Mudrinich reads what he had to say on the subject.

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