Ecology / Land Stewardship
Ecology of Kinstone
We are not trained ecologists; however, we do what we can to honor the ecology of Kinstone by observing and interacting with the various “eco-neighborhoods” in our overall ecosystem with a caring and thoughtful approach. We have prairie, woodland, pond, barnyard, food forest, garden, and other eco-neighborhoods. Each one is its own ecosystem within the larger Kinstone Ecosystem and each supports many organisms such as plants, fungi, birds, animals, insects, spiders, amphibians, reptiles, fish, humans and more.
Flora and Fauna
Biota. Biota means all the life that exists of any kind – including all flora and fauna. Kinstone is home to rich and abundant biota such as plants, fungi, birds, animals, insects, spiders, amphibians, reptiles, fish, humans and more that we cannot see without a microscope or other device. Even more organisms that do not live here on a regular basis pass through Kinstone in a seasonal or other manner. Very many creatures find sustenance and a life-giving environment here. Photographic documentation of these creatures is fun and helps with identification.
We intend to provide more information here about the flora and fauna at Kinstone soon. Check back for more!
Gardens & Food Forest
Kinstone has 17 raised garden beds where we grow annual vegetables and herbs. We also have many young trees and shrubs in our food forest gardens that will someday provide us with fruits, berries, nuts, mulching leaves, and shade as well as other benefits.
We intend to provide more information about the gardens and food forest areas at Kinstone. Check back for more!
The Kinstone Pond is a lovely kidney-bean shaped body of water that was dug by machine in 2011 shortly after the creation of the Kinstone Circle. It is really a feature that goes along with the large stone circle. The Circle is like the sun and the Pond is like the moon, spooning the circle.
We have stocked the pond with bass and blue gills. Many water plants have been planted in and around the pond. The most abundant plant is the common cattail which we did not plant, but were instead planted by visiting water birds!
We intend to provide more information about the Pond. Check back for more!
Prairie & Oak Savanna Planting
This area of Wisconsin was surveyed in the winter of 1848; we found original surveyors notes at this link: Surveyor’s Notes. We believe the top of this bluff has been farmed since at least 1870. We hope to restore our small portion of it to native habitat similar to what it might have been prior to it being settled and farmed. We believe that it was likely prairie or oak savanna on the upper portions of the ridge that give way to mixed hardwood forests in the steepest areas. Over 90 oak trees were planted here in May, 2011 into former field and pasture in a patterned manner to allow for open growth. The majority of those are bur oak (a keystone species for this region and indicator of Midwestern oak savanna remnants) and the rest are 8 other varieties of oak including Black, Red, Scarlet, White, Swamp White, Pin, Chinquapin, and Swamp Bur. Additionally, in November, 2013 we planted 2 acres of our steeper, highly erodible former pastureland with a complex native prairie seed mix. It has established nicely and we are excited to watch as new species show up each year and will continue to do so for quite some time. Over the next many years we will continue to establish prairie on the remaining open land as we can. We also plan to establish woody species and prairie plants that belong in an oak savanna in and amongst the young oaks already growing. It’s a process that does not have an end… it’s a life work for us and for generations to come.
We established prairie on land that was previously used as pasture or had lain fallow for many years. Despite being encouraged to kill (use Round-up or similar herbicide) or till (dig up the earth and remove all existing vegetation), we chose to do it a different way.
We obtained a quality and complex mix of native prairie seeds from a reputable nursery nearby. We used Prairie Moon Nursery located outside of Winona, MN. We also collected seed from Mike Larson and Linda Nelson’s well-established prairie planting on a bluff across the Mississippi River in Altura, MN. We mixed these seeds and split them into 16 equal piles. We mixed each pile into a 5 gallon bucket of sand. We divided our 2 acre site into 16 segments. Then, we waited for a perfect November day when snow was expected.
A perfect November day arrived and three of us used our hands to spread the seeds; one bucket per land segment. It began snowing while we scattered seed. This is the ideal scenario as the snow will push the seeds down and give them a greater chance to have good contact with the ground and the winter provides natural stratification for seeds that require it for germination.
For two years we mowed these 2 acres as if they were a golf course. This kept the competing weeds and grasses down while giving the prairie plants a chance to do their root work. During the third year we mowed just three times – letting the plants get to be knee-high before mowing each time. The fourth and fifth years we have not mowed. We do plan to burn in the 6th year.
There are about 15 acres of woodland here at Kinstone. It is mixed hardwoods on very steep slopes. The shade of the trees provide wonderful growing opportunities for ferns and many native trees, plants, flowers, and fungi. The wildlife in the area love the shelter of the woods as well. White-tail deer, raccoons, coyotes, squirrels, owls, turkeys, and many more creatures make there homes here.
We intend to provide more information about the woodlands. Check back for more!
What’s Happening @KinstoneCircle
Kinstone blends conscious care of the Earth with art to form sacred spaces that invite and inspire people to connect with and experience the creative power of the land to transform, energize and revive the body, mind and spirit.
“This place is utterly, unspeakably beautiful.” ~Janee H.
“I did not expect to feel as if I had come home when I visited Kinstone. And, like going home, I will return. There is much there that stirs me, and leads me to reflection and peace. Thank you.” ~Kathy Z.