On Monday, local students and scouts started their spring break by spending time outside Hayes High School preparing a patch of soil for a pocket forest that will be planted next month.
The work was overseen by Life Scout and Hayes junior Amelia Stranges, who is creating the pocket forest for her Eagle Scout project. Stranges said the pocket forest will be a small patch of land that will be used to grow local trees and shrubbery in order to create more biodiversity, enrich the soil and help the environment.
Stranges said Monday that she and her group planned to dig up and amend the soil to make it easier for plants to grow next month, but the freezing weather on Monday forced them to alter their plans. Stranges said the plans were saved when Bryson Wray from Pony Lawncare and Landscaping arrived with machinery to excavate the frozen ground for them.
“We didn’t have to do nearly as much by hand,” Stranges said Monday. “That made it a lot easier, and we basically did what we planned to do today.”
Stranges said the soil will be put back in the ground and will sit until next month when she will use a rotary tiller to break up the soil again and begin planting trees, bushes and flowers to create the pocket forest on the school’s south side.
Stranges said she is “in the process of figuring out how many and what we want to plant” for the project, but the goal of the project is to increase local plant biodiversity and give nutrients to the soil.
“We are looking at which ones are native then we’ll look at different sizes and what works well together and in this soil,” Stranges said. “I hope that we have a dense pocket forest and I hope it grows into a mature (patch of forest).”
The pocket forest will be located south next to the parking lot, and Stranges said the idea was to have the forest closer to the road so passing drivers can see it.
“Our goal is to have people see this and get inspired by it,” Stranges said. She added it was also closer to the road to keep it from existing homes. “There are more residential areas down there and we didn’t want to disturb them and there are already trees growing.”
Stranges said the project should be completed by the end of the school year.
“I’m really excited for it,” Stranges said. “I think it’ll be a great project.”
One of the volunteers at the dig site was Brady Stewart, a junior at Hayes, who said he didn’t mind helping out on his spring break.
“I think it’s a good cause and I have nothing better to do right now,” joked Stewart. “This area could have more diversity.”
Xan Stranges, a freshman and fellow scout, said she was helping because she believes the project is “really important,” and she also plans to pursue an Eagle Scout badge and hopes her project is helpful to the environment like the pocket forest.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.