The Cooperative is a contracting enterprise while also providing membership to landowners interested in discounts and sometimes free equipment for habitat establishment and maintenance projects as well as education and demonstration events. There are many types of projects where the cost of membership is less than typical contracting charges for equipment. Membership is open to any resident of the Commonwealth.
Leaving some room for other species in our yards, estates, and farms is a generous gift to nature and to future generations. We are landscape contractors, working with homeowners and landowners and seed companies to select species suited for a particular location. Our work includes projects to reclaim a forest floor overrun with invasive species, adding greater species diversity to a wetland, and the creation of meadows, in full sun and partial shade, ranging from a few hundred square feet to 10 or more acres.
There are many ways to establish and maintain a wildlife grassland habitat. VWHC Staff helps a landowner consider factors such as need for government assistance, timeframe for mature habitat establishment, plants suited for particular type(s) of wildlife, aesthetics, synthetic vs. natural methods for habitat creation, and pros and cons of alternative maintenance regimes.
Pasture and hayfield ecosystems can be highly diverse, with a complex array of plants and soil organisms contributing to food and shelter for ungulates, pollinators, and grassland birds. Benefits of grassland biodiversity includes increased forage production, greater plant community stability in response to disturbance, and reduced invasive species biomass. Pasture and hayfield management for biodiversity however is not simply a matter of increasing species of seed. Different animals need different mixes of forage, while accounting for soil type, aspect, drainage, and field rotation. VWHC Staff and Partners help a landowner optimize these variables for the benefits of farm animals, grassland birds, and pollinators.
Real management of grassland weeds and invasive species in our experience requires a plan and does not happen overnight. The reasons include the fact that weed seed persists in soil for years and in some instances, decades, and the fact that weed seed blows in to varying degrees from nearby landscapes. Therefore, we find the concept of “killing weeds” to generally be a myth. Plants that in a particular landscape we consider weeds can have the microbiology of soil in which they grow altered to favor the growth of desirable species. In addition, plants can be selected that will outcompete the invasives, while still growing in a manner that they are able to play well with the desired species. However, when woody invasive species (tress and shrubs) get a foothold in a grassland or forested landscape, synthetic chemicals are a necessity. Different invasive species get treated differently at different times of the year. VWHS Staff will work with a landowner to find the best invasive species strategies to meet management goals.
Blue Orchard Bees (BOB) are a solitary mason bee native to Virginia. This excellent pollinator is potentially in decline. Some of the suspected reasons for population decline are habitat loss, introduced bee species, increased pathogens, and increased exposure to pesticides.
The nesting structures, called “Bee Houses” or “Bee Hotels” require management. They cannot be set up and left alone, or they will become breeding grounds for pests, predators, and diseases. The BOB can be left to their own devices for the most part, or they can be managed more intensively. Regardless of management strategy, the bee houses need to be cleaned regularly and protected from weather, predators, and parasites. This requires several visits to the house each year.
In partnership with Siller Pollinator Company, we provide small to large scale bee packages to suit any size project. With installation and annual maintenance included, your new bee houses are as easy as a phonecall away!
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