East End Eco-Ventures

Join us to explore the east end of Long Island through nature-based outdoor adventures and educational activities.


The Birth of a “Farm”

I invite you to share in my journey of creating a farm with the intention to help rejuvenate a landscape and a culture.

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Red fox scat. Photo: Mark Gutzmer

During my first visit to the site (with the intent to farm it as opposed to tracking/hiking/skiing/etc.), I was graced with the presence of the red fox. For me, fox represents the spirit of observation, connection, adaptation and partnership, all qualities that are echoed in the core principles of permaculture design.

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View looking south toward access and neighbor’s property.

I was first introduced to the site by Scott Chaskey of Quail Hill Farm (Peconic Land Trust). I explained to him that I wasn’t necessarily looking for “farmland” and that I would welcome any land, regardless of slope, vegetation, soils, etc. He knew just the place.

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View looking northeast toward Peconic Land Trust preserve land.

The site is bordered to the north by protected land owned by the Peconic Land Trust and to the south by private land maintained mostly as an open lawn.

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View looking east across the site.

I applied for and obtained a lease on this beautiful acre, mostly consisting of open field with some edge areas of mixed autumn olive and red cedar. The topography is mostly mildly sloping with some areas with a bit more pitch, and not anything anyone would want to farm in the traditional sense.

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Mike Bottini piecing together the new chicken house.

So many thanks to Mike Bottini, a true partner in many endeavors who really helped me initiate this project. Without his support, I would probably still be tinkering around, waiting for the right moment to jump in and create my dream project. I also would’t have nearly as unique a chicken house without his design and construction know-how. I also have Emma Woodward to thank for helping me get the ball rolling on the initial construction of the hen house. Of course, there are many more to thank for their support/help/etc. during this process, and I will need to save that for another post…

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Chicken house setting: tucked in close to the vegetation to allow them additional protection from aerial predators.

Above is the final chicken house design. A simple salt-box shape effectively catches rainwater for my many water needs as there is no access to a well or public water source on-site.

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Lucy Woodward demonstrates the proper use of a transit that we used to mark out contours (lines of equal elevation).

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I can’t help but make these projects fun!

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Dirt time.

Once a few contours were marked out, the dirt time began. Here is a trench for my first hugelkultur bed which will soon become a home for my first tree and shrub plantings. Special thanks to Mark Gutzmer for several hours of digging assistance!

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Hugelkultur!

Hugelkultur is a garden bed design utilizing wood, branches, leaves and other organic matter that are buried in order to break down over time, providing food for plants that grow there. The buried material also helps absorb and store water in the soil, which can be especially helpful in times of drought, which are seeming to be more common in our-changing climate.

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This photo may help depict my method of creating this particular hugelkultur bed.

My method of creating this particular hugelkultur bed:

1) Mark out a line of equal elevation (I used small bamboo stakes and orange flagging) which will indicate the higher edge of the “swale and mound” or “berm and basin.” I realized later that the flags of equal elevation should actually represent the downhill edge of the earthwork. I think my design should be ok, considering I’m not dealing with super steep slopes or heavy drainage, but we’ll have to wait and see how it holds up.

2) Using a hoe, break and pull away the layer of grass and roots, exposing the soil beneath in a four-foot wide area along the contour. Pile the grass/soil chunks downhill of your exposed soil area.

3) Dig a trench in the lower half of the exposed soil area (about 2 feet wide). I began just using a shovel, but a later I found that a pick axe-type tool worked well to loosen the soil/rocks first before shoveling it out (Thanks, Mike!). Separate the larger rocks out (especially if you want to use them for something later), and pile the excavated soil on the uphill edge (preferably on top of the remaining exposed soil so it is easier to move later.

4) Fill the trench with as much organic matter as you can get your hands on (logs, sticks, branches, leaves – the more rotten the better). Pack it in densely and make sure you have enough to rise at least slightly above the ground level – this will help give you the mound effect without having to add more soil from another source on your site.

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Hugel bed with grass placed on top of sticks.

5) Place the grass/soil chunks on top of the wood and sticks, covering it completely and as evenly as possible and pack that down. (Jumping on top of it provides a fun, trampoline effect.)

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Hugel with soil placed on top of grass and sticks.

6) Pile the remaining excavated soil on top and even it out as best you can. In this case, my shallow swale uphill of the mound did not come out as wide as I imagined, but it should do the trick

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Final hugel bed.

7) Finish it off by seeding a mix of cover crops on and in the immediate area surrounding your earthwork. Now we’ll wait for the next big rain event to see how it handles the runoff. If I had a tractor or some kind of small machinery to do any step of this process, I probably would have taken advantage of that to speed up the process. However, I wasn’t in a particular rush to get this done, and earthworks by hand are a great way to strengthen your physical body as well as your connection with the earth. Sometimes its just fun to get dirty!

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One humans waste is another human’s treasure.

My neighbor to the South has his lawn mowed once a week, leaving heaps of grass clippings scattered about, only to be raked and tossed into the woods nearby. I offered to help rake and take some of it off their hands for use in my chicken coop. Grass clippings make a wonderful bedding material for the floor of the hen house as well as inside their nest boxes. Some of the grass clippings are also being used for additional mulch in creating some experimental “cardboard lasagna” to help convert some areas of grass to planting beds.

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Hugel bed construction and cardboard lasagna experiment.

I’ll be posting upcoming community work days soon, so you all can have a chance to visit, meet other folks, lend a hand and learn more about the site, projects and permaculture in general. I am feeling more grateful every day to be blessed with such a beautiful piece of land that already has so much to offer this early on in the process.

Thank you all for your support!

Much love,

Juliana

PS: I am still working on a name for the farm, and I am open to suggestions. Please let me know your ideas!

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September Paddle Trips

unnamed-1Indian Summer Evening Paddle and Picnic at Northwest Harbor
Friday, September 16
5:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Join the Peconic Land Trust for a full moon paddle of scenic Northwest Harbor. After launching, you will paddle to the beach for a BYO picnic dinner and enjoy the sunset, before returning to our starting point by the light of the full moon. Don’t forget your blanket or towel to sit on, a warm layer for the return trip, and a flashlight.  Limited space available, pre-paid registration required.   Rentals: single kayak $50, stand-up paddleboard $60, or double kayak or canoe $70.  Bring your own kayak or canoe for $10 per person.  For more information and to reserve, please call the Peconic Land Trust at 631.283.3195 or email to Events@PeconicLandTrust.org.

Nature Paddle: Georgica Pond Monarch Butterfly Watch
Saturday  September 17
9 am – 11 am
Enjoy this annual South Fork Natural History Society paddle on Georgica Pond down to the ocean beach during the peak of the Monarch Butterfly migration. Learn the details of the Monarch’s amazing journey, along with current conservation issues facing this beautiful insect. Kayak, canoe, and SUP rentals available: $40 single kayak; $60 tandem kayaks and canoes; $50 paddleboard (SUP). Lifejackets are included. Call SoFo for reservations and directions to meeting place: (631) 537-9735. To rent boats or paddleboards, contact Mike Bottini at 631- 267-5228 or mike@mikebottini.com.


Upcoming Paddle in August and September

unnamedSunset Picnic Paddle
Wednesday,  August 17, 2016
6:30 pm – 9 pm
We’ll meet at the Northwest Creek access at the end of Northwest Landing Road for a short paddle on Northwest Harbor to a picnic spot (BYO picnic), catch the sunset and moonrise, and return by moonlight. Bring a flashlight and dress for a cool evening on the water. Leader: Mike Bottini (mike@peconic.org).
Sponsored by the East Hampton Trails Preservation Society. Free if you have your own boat. Contact Mike if you need to rent a kayak or SUP.

Coastal Processes at Napeague Harbor
Sunday  August  21
9 am – 11 am
On this nature paddle we will visit a flood tide delta and the site of an old inlet and learn how natural coastal processes and human activities have shaped this harbor’s shoreline.
Kayak, canoe and standup paddleboards available to rent.
Sponsored by South Fork Natural History Society. Free for SOFO members; $10 for non-members. Advance registration required: call the South Fork Natural History Museum 631-537-9735 to make a reservation.

Georgica Pond Monarch Butterfly Watch
Saturday  September 17
9 am – 11 am
Enjoy this annual paddle on Georgica Pond down to the ocean beach during the peak of the Monarch Butterfly migration. Learn the details of the Monarch’s amazing journey, along with current conservation issues facing this beautiful insect.
Kayak, canoe and standup paddleboards available to rent.
Sponsored by South Fork Natural History Society. Free for SOFO members; $10 for non-members. Advance registration required: call the South Fork Natural History Museum 631-537-9735 to make a reservation.
NOTE: contingent on results of September water testing.


2016 Nature Adventure and Water Safety Camp

2016 Nature Adventure and Water Safety Camp Registration is still open!

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2015 Campers

This unique program combines marine and beach ecology, wildlife tracking, water safety and paddling skills on the East End.  Students (ages 9-15) will explore the flora and fauna of the beach and marine environments using snorkel gear, seines, kayaks, and standup paddleboards.  The course will also cover water safety, reading ocean currents and rip tides, as well as ocean swimming, surfing, bodyboarding, and bodysurfing.

Led by Ocean-Certified Lifeguards and Wildlife Biologists
Mike Bottini  & Juliana Duryea

Session 1:  July 25–28 (4 classes; rain date July 29Description: hulimacphotos:EEEV Photos/Cards:OtterHeadSketch#1.jpg)
Session 2:  August 8–11 (4 classes; rain date August 12)
10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Locations: Georgica Beach (East Hampton Village) and Northwest Creek, East Hampton.
Fee Per Session (includes all equipment): $400 per camper; $360 for LINO members

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO REGISTER at longislandnature.org

More information and great photos of past camps available here.


Permaculture – Ecological Practices for Our Future

WHEN: Sat, Jun 18, 2016  from 10:00-11:30 AM

WHERE:Quail Hill Farm – Deep Lane, Amagansett
Similar to acknowledging a whole-body approach to medicine, there is a whole-systems approach to our interaction with the environment, called “permaculture.” Join the Peconic Land Trust at Quail Hill Farm to meet permaculture practitioners Katrina Siladi and Juliana Duryea as they discuss this important perspective and explain steps you can take to implement sustainable and ecological practices into your daily living. Program is FREE – please bring a blanket or folding chair and meet in the orchard. Parking along Deep Lane.
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CONTACT INFORMATION:


Wildlife Track and Sign Workshop – May 14, 2016

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Trackers investigate the small trail of a diamondback terrapin hatchling. 

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Larger turtle track lacking a drag mark of the plastron – likely a snapping turtle.

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A diamond back terrapin hatchling made an appearance. 

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Shorebird tracks of a willet, showing partial webbing between toes 3 and 4.

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Measuring the willet track length – not including the 1st toe.


2016 Nature Adventure and Water Safety Camp Registration

2016 Nature Adventure and Water Safety Camp Registration is open!

Early registration discount available until May 1. 

This unique program combines marine and beach ecology, wildlife tracking, water safety and paddling skills on the East End.  Students (ages 9-15) will explore the flora and fauna of the beach and marine environments using snorkel gear, seines, kayaks, and standup paddleboards.  The course will also cover water safety, reading ocean currents and rip tides, as well as ocean swimming, surfing, bodyboarding, and bodysurfing.

Led by Ocean-Certified Lifeguards and Wildlife Biologists
Mike Bottini  & Juliana Duryea

Session 1:  July 25–28 (4 classes; rain date July 29Description: hulimacphotos:EEEV Photos/Cards:OtterHeadSketch#1.jpg)
Session 2:  August 8–11 (4 classes; rain date August 12)
10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Locations: Georgica Beach (East Hampton Village) and Northwest Creek, East Hampton.
Fee Per Session (includes all equipment): $400 per camper; $360 for LINO members; $340 for registrations received before May 1.

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO REGISTER.

More information and great photos of past camps available here.

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Reading Wildlife Track and Sign Workshop

Reading Wildlife Track and Sign Workshop

Saturday    May 14, 2016      9:00 am – 4:00 pm.
Instructors: Mike Bottini, Juliana Duryea, Callie Velmachos.
Location: Sagaponack – Sag Harbor area.
Fee: $40 ($36 for LINO members).

ONLINE REGISTRATION IS AT www.longislandnature.org

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The Red Fox’s typical hunting gait: direct register trot.

This field workshop is designed for naturalists, environmental and outdoor educators, amateur trackers and citizen scientists, professional biologists, and students (minimum age of 16) seeking to increase their wildlife tracking and observation skills, and sign knowledge.

We will visit three different sites in the Long Pond Greenbelt area, including a pond shoreline, beach, and a river otter latrine site.

Topics that will be covered include:

– how to examine tracks (habitat, trail patterns, print details)

– understanding gaits

– distinguishing various feeding and marking sign

– identifying scat and tracks of over dozen wildlife species.

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The Raccoon’s overstep walk track pattern.

For more information or questions contact Mike Bottini at mike@mikebottini.com or 631-267-5228.

SUP offers a great vantage point to spot wildlife beneath the surface of the water.


2016 Nature Paddle Schedule

Alewives and other Signs of Spring
Saturday  April 23, 2016
10 am – noon
Big Fresh Pond, Southampton

Kayak, canoe and standup paddleboards available to rent.
We will look for evidence of the spring alewife run and other signs of spring as we circumnavigate this picturesque freshwater pond, one of the largest on Long Island.
Sponsored by South Fork Natural History Society. Advance registration required: call the South Fork Natural History Museum 631-537-9735 to make a reservation.

Signs of Spring on the Peconic River
Sunday  May 15, 2016
9:00 am – 1 pm.Join wildlife biologist Mike Bottini on this 5 mile nature paddle along the most scenic portion of Long Island’s longest river, the Peconic, from Connecticut Avenue to Mill Road. Along the way we’ll also be looking for signs of River Otters, which made a big comeback on eastern Long Island in the past two years. Bring a snack.
Paddlecraft rentals available through Mike (e-mail mike@peconic.org or call 631-267-5228): canoe ($60); single kayak ($40); tandem kayak ($60); SUP ($50). Includes lifejacket.

Meet at the Connecticut Avenue access. Rte. 24 west, left onto River Road, left onto CT. Ave.  (p. 47 of Mike’s Paddling Guide).

Searching for Horseshoe Crabs
Saturday May 21, 2016
9 am – 11 am
Maidstone Park, Springs
We will catch the new moon high tide and paddle over to Goose Creek in search of the ancient and interesting Horseshoe Crab, which should be visible laying eggs during the late morning high tide. We will discuss current conservation concerns related to Horseshoe Crabs, their important ecological role in the ecosystem, and some of their unique features for life in the estuary.
Kayak, canoe and standup paddleboards available to rent.
Sponsored by South Fork Natural History Society. Advance registration required: call the South Fork Natural History Museum 631-537-9735 to make a reservation.
Sagg Pond Full Moon Paddle and Picnic
Friday   June 17, 2016
6:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Sponsored by the Peconic Land Trust. Bring your picnic and join us for a relaxing 1-mile paddle across Sagg Pond, led by wildlife biologist Mike Bottini. Enjoy the natural beauty of conserved farms and pristine wetlands, protected with the help of the Peconic Land Trust as we paddle across to the beach, pull up the boats, and enjoy our picnic as the moon rises overhead. View and learn more about the beautiful flora and fauna of the area from Mike along with the conservation work accomplished by the Trust from our South Fork Stewardship Manager, Matt, and then paddle back by the light of the full moon.
Limited space available, pre-paid registration required.   Rentals: single kayak $50, stand-up paddleboard $60, or double kayak or canoe $70.  Bring your own kayak or canoe for $10 per person.  Don’t forget your binoculars for birding. Rain cancels. Call 
For reservations, please contact the Trust at 631-283-3195 x 19 or e-mail Events@PeconicLandTrust.org 

Diamonds in the Estuary
Saturday June 25, 2016
9 am – 11 am
Northwest Creek, East Hampton
June is nesting time for our native turtles, including our saltwater turtle that is adapted to living in the lower salinity waters of the estuary: the Diamandback Terrapin. We will paddle the shoreline of Northwest Creek and in search of these handsome turtles, look for evidence of their nests on shore, and discuss current conservation efforts to protect this species. We will also look for sign of the River Otters that moved into the creek in 2015.
Kayak, canoe and standup paddleboards available to rent.
Sponsored by South Fork Natural History Society. Advance registration required: call the South Fork Natural History Museum 631-537-9735 to make a reservation.
Accabonac Osprey Nesting Survey
Sunday  July 10
9 am – 11 am
During this nature paddle through scenic Acabonac harbor we will survey its Osprey nests to determine how many were occupied this breeding season and how many young were successfully reared. Kayak, canoe and standup paddleboards available to rent.
Sponsored by South Fork Natural History Society. Advance registration required: call the South Fork Natural History Museum 631-537-9735 to make a reservation.
Full Moon Paddle and Picnic
Tuesday  July 19, 2016
6:30 pm – 9:00 pm
We’ll meet at the beach/water access on Lazy Point Road (south of Lazy Point itself) for a short (one mile) paddle to Goff Point for a BYO picnic, catch the sunset and moonrise, and return by moonlight. Bring a flashlight and dress for a cool evening on the water. Leader: Mike Bottini 631-267-5228.
Contact Mike if you need to rent a kayak or SUP.
Sunset Picnic Paddle
Wednesday,  August 17, 2016
6:30 pm – 9 pm
We’ll meet at the Northwest Creek access at the end of Northwest Landing Road for a short paddle on Northwest Harbor to a picnic spot (BYO picnic), catch the sunset and moonrise, and return by moonlight. Bring a flashlight and dress for a cool evening on the water. Leader: Mike Bottini (mike@peconic.org).
Contact Mike if you need to rent a kayak or SUP.
Coastal Processes at Napeague Harbor
Sunday  August  21
9 am – 11 am
On this nature paddle we will visit a flood tide delta and the site of an old inlet and learn how natural coastal processes and human activities have shaped this harbor’s shoreline.
Kayak, canoe and standup paddleboards available to rent.
Sponsored by South Fork Natural History Society. Advance registration required: call the South Fork Natural History Museum 631-537-9735 to make a reservation.
Georgica Pond Monarch Butterfly Watch
Saturday  September17
9 am – 11 am
Enjoy this annual paddle on Georgica Pond down to the ocean beach during the peak of the Monarch Butterfly migration. Learn the details of the Monarch’s amazing journey, along with current conservation issues facing this beautiful insect.
Kayak, canoe and standup paddleboards available to rent.
Sponsored by South Fork Natural History Society. Advance registration required: call the South Fork Natural History Museum 631-537-9735 to make a reservation.