On the North side of the quarry is an interesting meadow that has provided our students with an exceptional learning opportunity regarding native and invasive plants, sustainable land management, soil ecology, and symbiotic relationships of meadow landscapes.
This three acre area was found to contain a number of non-native cool season grasses as well as invasive vegetation that included multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora), autumn-olive (Elaeagnus umbellata), canada thistle (Cirsium arvense), and Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii). Based on recommendations from Natural Lands Trust, students at Montgomery School began studying this meadow and learning how to best curb the invasive plants in this area.
In the Fall of 2011, Montgomery School entered into a partnership with the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) to undertake a Native Grassland and Wildflower restoration project. With a PEC grant funded by the Martin Foundation and the William Penn Foundation, and with technical and physical assistance from GreenWeavers Landscape LLC, Montgomery School began a multi-year project to eradicate invasive plants from this meadow and restore the area to a Native Grassland and Wildflower Meadow. The project began with the removal of all woody species which were stacked into three “habitat piles” to give local birds and animals refuge. The meadow was then mown and treated with aquatic-safe herbicides. New native grass seeds were planted in the summer of 2012. Through monitoring and testing we learned that the native meadow grasses were not supported by the soil ecology and a new approach to developing soil structure and nutrients was implemented with the application of compost tea to encourage proper fungal and bacterial growth that would enhance the proper soil nutrition for native plants, while discouraging invasive species.