Transect Triumphant

Yesterday was our first full day of transect surveys at woodlands conservancy. The first couple of transects were short and easy then we graduated to 100 meter long transects some of which were covered with black berry.

On Sunday Tom and Jon walked us through a tour of the species we would encounter, testing us along the way to make sure we can identify the species we were looking for.

With a little bit of practice we have gotten faster and more accurate at identifying the woody species.

We’re all under slept, all a little beaten up and eaten up by these mosquitoes, but spirits are high and we all couldn’t be happier to be doing this work.

St. Joseph’s Day Parade Out in Front of Mother-in-law Lounge

Tonight, we went to see Kermit Ruffins at Mother-in-law lounge in the 7th Ward. After the show, we got lucky enough to experience the St. Joseph’s Day Parade. A show that was supposed to be last night, but got postponed due to rain.

Each Krew spends a year designing their unique costumes. The Mardi Gras Indians only Parade twice a year, on Mardi Gras and St. Joseph’s Day. After the parade, the costumes are retired and never worn again.

New Orleans School of Cooking

On Saturday, we spent our morning at the New Orleans School of Cooking. We had five groups of three people (appetizer, salad, side dish, entree and desert). Each group had the freedom to decide what they were going to make. After groups were assigned, we headed off to the local farmers market to shop for our ingredients. This allowed us to help support local farmers and learn about the ingredients we were going to be using. The process was guided by our friend Michael from the cooking school. He helped guide us on how to cook to our best ability. The meal making process taught us all new things, which we can take home and use in our own kitchens.Our meal consisted of bruschetta as an appetizer, followed by a salad. The main meal consisted of crab and shrimp gumbo, served with potato salad. To end the meal, we had strawberry crepes for desert. The cooking school was an unforgettable experience. We were able to learn about local produce, support local farmers, and learn how to cook traditional New Orleans food!

Swamp Day

We began the day with an in-depth overview of the different plants we will have to be working with and identifying for the rest of the trip. We talked about Bald Cyprus, an important species of tree present in wetlands. These trees have been experiencing multiple challenges; some are caused from the hurricane and some are from anthropogenic impacts. The pictures display the sharp contrasts in the tree’s health:

The top picture is of a typical, healthy Bald Cyprus that support the wetlands, while the bottom picture shows a clearly warped tree.

Our Orientation to Woodlands Trail & Park

On Saturday (3/17) we got an intro into the work we will be doing for Woodlands Trail & Park. We discussed the metrics that we would be measuring in our survey areas, or “transects.”

We will be measuring the depth of leaf litter and wood litter, the woody tree species within the transects and their diameter at breast height, and the space taken up by leaves overhead. These different metrics all give us an idea of the overall health of the forest and the impact of invasive species in the area.

We met a woman who has fought hard to protect this area, Katie, from development and destruction. Katie explained to us about the history of the area and her journey to preservation (the ups and the downs). We learned that the Woodlands Conservancy was able to buy the land and that restoration will be able to continue on the land to make the wetlands of Louisiana healthier and sturdier. Better protecting the people from flooding and the impacts of hurricanes.

First Day of Field Work

We began our field work out at the Woodland Trail today which was a fun, yet work-intensive, day. I learned a great deal about the native and exotic woody vegetative species, as well as getting to see a few different animals that make this wonderful forest their home. So, we have one day of restoration work down, and many more to go.

Farmers Market

We visited the local farmer market in an effort to see how the weather and culture affected the local produce. The farmer’s market was smaller and had seasonal vegetables.

One woman talked about the late season freeze. She had lost a lot of her produce in the freeze but the leafy greens and spicy peppers made it through.

The people we bought our shellfish from were having a bad season for shrimp and crab. There is currently a ban on catching female blue crabs. The female crabs have rounder stomachs and carry the eggs under her shell. This ban was made in an effort to allow the crab populations to rebound.

One man I talked to grew his plants in a hydroponic system. Hydroponic systems involve growing food in tanks of water opposed to growing them in the dirt outside. During the winter he heated the house where he was growing the food. This allows him to have a wider variety of vegetables year round and not worry about the freezes. The downfall is the high energy intake.

There were also people selling honey, soap, popsicles, and other goods.