Hypertufa workshop

Instructor Jeff Roehm educating students at the North Coast Land Conservancy’s hypertufa workshop.

The North Coast Land Conservancy wants you to get dirty for a good cause.

The much loved hypertufa pot class took place again at the Circle Creek Conservation Center on June 18 with volunteer instructor Jeff Roehm and Pat Wollner. For a mere $10 students were able to construct their very own pot and fill it with native plants from the center.

The pots are concrete planter boxes but they aren’t quite as heavy. They last more than five times longer than standard clay ceramic pots and are more attractive and ecologically friendly than plastic. Hypertufa pots are essentially stone but lighter and more affordable.

The workshop took place over a few days with attendees invited to take part in just one or all three days, with the first day being the basics of mixing and shaping. The class was full, with each student encouraged to take part in whichever part of the process they wanted to, whether mixing cement with peat moss and Pearlite or shaping the mixture onto the cardboard molds.

Days two and three focused on finishing and planing. The newly crafted pots cured in their form overnight before they were shaped with light sanding and planted with native flowers such as penstemon carnellia.

“We don’t want anything here that doesn’t grow here,” said Roehm during the brief botanical tour.

The final pots are pleasing ranging in thickness, as well as form and shape. They don’t strictly need holes since the form is breathable but drainage holes are easy to add. While the class is designed to be “fun and interesting” Roehm emphasized that the importance of the workshop is in getting people to the site, an old 364-acre farm and future location of the conservancy headquarters.

Board member Pat Wollner echoed that sentiment during her tour of the educational botanical garden, derelict 10 years since the old farm house and former land conservancy office burned down. Countless hours of volunteer labor have unearthed plots of cottonwood and sedges.

Together she and others have installed weed barrier, repaired fences, and identified and tagged the plants present. While the land conservancy “doesn’t really know” what their goal is for the garden, immediate plans include using the space for growing plants for education and restoration.

Volunteers are also running a series of botanical experiments including how to reseed chocolate lilies and early blue violets for butterflies. Seed-bombs of native wildflowers were sprouting in neat rows, two of which had sprouted a handful of tiny leaves. But they don’t expect to use the plants for large scale restoration given its size. The fenced garden takes up fewer than 1,000 square feet.

“We won’t grow enough to populate all lands,” Wollner explained.

But more heavy lifting needs to happen. Wollner is looking for a half-dozen or so volunteers to help keep things watered and weeded during the summer. She’s also looking for someone to help install more fencing and light construction work is also appreciated.

NCLC has big plans for the future of the North Coast. They are not only working to restore the land around the center including the educational botanical garden, they are also working to protect a contiguous corridor as part of the Rainforest Reserve project which is in year three of five. Most recently, the conservancy received a $600,000 U.S. Forest Service Community Forest Grant to protect 3,500 acres of watershed in the mountains upland of Cannon Beach and Arch Cape.

A significant part of the future is the restoration of the Circle Creek Conservation Center, which, according to Wollner, is the “core of the conservancy and will be for years to come.”

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