Small Changes, Big Impact: wattles and more with Ally Jen

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Small Changes, Big Impact: wattles and more with Ally Jen

Join Ally Jen, winner of our 2023 BUBBAs Best Residential BMP category, as she takes us through her journey from local conservation classes to a course in Sustainable Horticulture and her decision to transform her depleted woodland backyard into a conservation hub.

In applying what she learned in her classes, Ally discerned which BMPs to use and where to apply them to the site, including numerous wattles, check dams, swales and berms, and a rain garden for comprehensive stormwater management and the restoration of a woodland ecosystem. In reducing erosion and harvesting rainwater, hundreds of native, deer resistant woody shrubs (as a “living wattle”) and perennials have been planted to provide wildlife habitat and to restore a healthy Piedmont oak-hickory understory as part of a healthy forest ecosystem.

At home, Ally has done nearly all the work on her own, although her teenage son has helped a great deal, especially with the heavy lifting. That said, acquiring materials on a budget meant some bartering and making new connections. Each person Ally talked to about stormwater management and provided materials became a touchpoint. Whether it was truckloads of woody debris, an organic farmer’s beater truck, a carpenter’s miter saw, or other friends and classmates who leant a hand, each of these touchpoints was an opportunity to educate and involve others in the sustainability, stewardship, and the beauty of nature. In addition, Ally’s experience implementing wattles at Cylburn Arboretum showed her how conservation work requires a community, and how small changes begun in your own backyard can create a big impact.

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