Butterflies and climate talks at Round the Bend

Jul 20, 2019

Visitors to Round the Bend farm on July 20 were greeted with an unusual sight: A sprinkler on the lawn to cool off during the heatwave, as well as a butterfly table with photographs, milkweed plants, and a live monarch caterpillar.

This month’s Open Day at the farm hosted both a workshop on monarch butterflies and a talk on cancer and climate change plus a herbal medicine foraging walk sponsored by the Marion Institute.

The Kowalski family were running the butterfly workshop, teaching kids and their parents all about the butterflies’ life cycle and how everyone can help conserve them by growing milkweed in their back yard.

“It takes one to two hours to form a chrysalis,” said eight-year-old Erik Kowalski seriously, as he showed off a model of a chrysalis. “Then it takes two weeks for [the butterfly] to grow inside, and it turns black and you can see its wings.”

The family has made it their mission to help conserve butterflies. 

Last year they raised and released more than 100 in their back garden, according to Erik’s mother Bonnie. 

This year — their fourth doing the project — they expect to release around 200 butterflies.

Erik was helping teach the workshop as well as handing out milkweed seeds and seedlings for people to plant.

His four-year-old brother Hobie, however, was more interested in spritzing water to try and keep cool.

Meanwhile a talk by herbalist and author Brendan Kelly on cancer and climate change took place in the farm’s air-conditioned classroom.

Kelly runs a clinic in Burlington, Vermont called Jade Mountain Wellness.

“He’s just really fabulous, and addresses some of the issues that we’re concerned about,” said Marion Institute executive director Liz Wiley. “So today he’s talking about climate change and cancer, and how those affect one another.”

During the talk Kelly described Chinese medicine’s principles of Yin and Yang and how they are thought to correspond to heat and cooling effects.

After the seminar, Kelly took the dozen or so participants on a walk to learn about medicinal herbs like stinging nettles, burdock, dandelion, and plantain.

“I’m impressed that people went in the heat,” said Marion Institute marketing director Patti Rego later in the day. “It was a good event — Brendan is one of our favorite speakers.”