“All of us might wish at times that we lived in a more tranquil world, but we don’t. And if our times are difficult and perplexing, so are they challenging and filled with opportunity.” ~ Robert Kennedy
Many years before Miami-Dade County became a sprawling, urban community, 98% of it was covered by a hardwood hammock forest. It was called a hardwood hammock because the hardwood trees grew so densely together that their branches and leaves formed a hammock or canopy. Inside the forest, the branches and leaves provided protection from the sun’s intense light and heat. Today, only 2% of the forest remains. A portion of the remaining forest is being restored inside the Patch of Heaven Sanctuary in Homestead.
The first time I visited Patch of Heaven Sanctuary, I felt like I had been transported into another place and time. My imagination was captivated by the 20 acres of gardens and forest, including a koy pond, horses, and an abundance of orchids!
We had originally arranged the visit to see the Patch of Heaven Sanctuary’s new apiary site and discuss how our GEN2050 junior beekeepers might assist with bee inspections. As we were touring the site, Fred Hubbard, the site manager presented us with a new opportunity. Yes, they wanted us to assist at the apiary, but would we also consider assisting with removing invasive plant species from the forest and plant tree seedlings?
Without any hesitation, I said, “YES, we would love to help!” I knew our GEN2050 students would have the opportunity to put what they are learning about environmental conservation in the classroom into practice. Their work now will improve the Miami-Dade County environment for generations to come.
On our second visit, we brought along members of the GEN2050 Leadership Council. These students walked through the forest with Fred, writing down the names of invasive plant species, along with a photo of each one. They were so engrossed in what they were doing, they didn’t want to leave! They were as excited as I am to learn and serve the community by restoring a hardwood hammock forest.
Please watch this brief video of GEN2050 Leadership Council Member Gabriella Scott describing how the opportunities presented to her in GEN2050 have transformed her life.
(Photo credits: Linda Freeman and Chloe Wicklas, Homestead, Florida, June 2018. Video credits: Carlos Garcia, June 2018.)