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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Worlds Cup Comes to Yelm

I had the unique opportunity to join the Nisqually Land Trust on Monday for some habitat restoration work.  Having a holiday week from work allowed me to do all sorts of things and getting in some volunteer time was on the list.  This opportunity came up at the last minute.

With a generous donation from Green Mountain Coffee  http://www.greenmountaincoffee.com/Our-Story   the Land Trust has received a huge supply of burlap coffee bags.  These bags tell a global story.

Burlap is made from jute.  The jute plant is ecologically easy to grow requiring little in the way of fertilizer or pest control.  It is second to cotton in the production of fibers for weaving.  The center of jute production is West Bengal and Bangladesh.  Many of our bags appear to have come from the region around Calcutta from the Howrah Jute Mills   http://www.mjindia.com/jute/howrahmill/html/index.html

The bags circle the globe and are used to package a wide variety of food products for shipping, including coffee.

Of course coffee producing nations are represented on the grounds of our field.  A warm welcome to players from India as well as


El Salvador







and Germany and Columbia

All are assembled and will go to work doing weed control in this meadow.  The area has been planted with native trees and shrubs.  Our coffee bags are lapped in pairs and snugged in around each planting tube as you can see in some of the pictures.  The seams and corners are fixed with long , non-anodized metal landscape fabric pins.  The jute will biodegrade over a short time, as will the metal pins.  During this time they will suppress weedy growth.  Thistle loves to invade these wet areas and this day the dead and rotting thistle of the season did a great job of getting through two layers of fabric and harshing the skin on my knees.

Also adding to the fun is the presence of  green coffee beans.  They tumble out of many bags.

There is no chance of a coffee plant sprouting, but I have to wonder if the meadows small critter population is going to get a little caffeine buzz if they try these.  Further away from the river near the woods, moles are doing a bang-up job of digging around.  If they get a caffeine buzz I hope we don't see them out both night and day.

This generous donation will go a long way in supporting the Land Trusts work.  They budget for weed control is depleted and these bags look like they will cover this large property.

These jute bags have come full circle ecologically.  They certainly tell part of a story of a global commodity.  I wonder if workers in these many areas know how far their work reaches.


  1. Hey Marty, that is a big pile of bags - and nice to see them going back to nature - we used them to grow potatoes in at one stage, and then the old bags went into the compost.

  2. What a cool idea for a blog post, I love the way you set it up. Good for the coffee company to donate so many bags. It's interesting how little we think of and know about things used around the world every day.

  3. Marti! It's been close to 20 years since I left for college, but I've been meaning to check back and say hi, ever since... I just found your blog. Let's get coffee sometime! Or better yet, let's go birding...

  4. HI Gabe!!!
    I will contact you privately. I was just talking to co-worker yesterday about the last 17 years . How time has flown and so much has changed.

  5. Hi Marti. This is certainly interesting and worthwhile work being done in the name of conservation of this area. I have always loved the smell of jute/burlap and we have used it in our garden in the 'fertilizer tea' we make.....placing compost weeds/grass/twigs/etc in burlap bags, tying the top and putting in plastic garbage cans.....fill with water and cover.....letting the summer sun heat and cook it up. Works well.

    I was hoping you would stop by and help with the identification of that bird's nest I found in the garden. Thanks so much and I will keep my eyes open this summer for any activity.

  6. Nice work, Marti, and very valuable work. It's much appreciated and I wish I had more time for volunteering. Starting to think about spring with this wonderful weather though I was out snowshoeing this morning (Artist's point). Had a spectacular day.

  7. Thanks for the comments on the new post, Marti. You must try snowshoeing if you haven't done it before. It's no more difficult than hiking and the mountains are spectacular in the winter.

  8. We are getting stir crazy and the only thing that is keeping us sane are the snowshoeing excursions and the trips to eastern Washington, but spring still seems too far. Hoping to go snowshoeing Saturday morning again and go all the way up to the top of Table Mountain.

  9. Thanks for stopping by, I miss your wise comments a lot. Yes, tiny green leaves are coming out in the mud that's our yard. Never did I welcome weeds with so much enthusiasm.