Darrin Schebek

Sowing seeds for the future

By sprinkling Alaska onion grass seed into plug trays, three men from Garth Homer Society help save Garry oak ecosystems at Fort Rodd Hill.

By simply sprinkling Alaska onion grass seed into plug trays, three men from the Garth Homer Society help save the Garry oak ecosystems at Fort Rodd Hill.

“We are planting the natural grasses,” explained volunteer Tyler (last name withheld). “We are doing this because we need it.”

On a crisp December day, Tyler, along with friends William Bates and Darrin Schebek, fills about 10 trays with seeds Parks Canada staff in Colwood harvested in the fall.

Tyler is eager and proud to pack and sift the soil, plant the seeds and cover the plugs with crushed granite.

The View Royal resident hopes others will help with the project too one day.

“We need to keep these trees,” said Tyler, pointing at a Garry oak. “We should have these trees for a long time, but people just don’t care enough.”

The shade-loving grass the volunteers are planting will be transplanted to Site 6 at the park in the spring.

“I like to pull weeds,” said Bates, 24. “I really like to come to Fort Rodd Hill.”

The Garry oak ecosystem preservation projects have been ongoing at Fort Rodd Hill for about 10 years with Garth Homer volunteers working there the past three.

“The Garry oak ecosystem is one of the most rare and most diverse ecosystems in Canada,” said Susan MacIsaac, species at risk communications officer at Fort Rod Hill. “There are thousands of plants and animals within it.”

Wildflower species there include camas, sea blush and spring gold. Western bluebirds and sharp tailed snakes are also known to inhabit the ecosystems. Though neither animal currently calls Fort Rodd Hill home, blue bird boxes were added to provide shelter should they return.

Garry oak meadow ecosystems are only found on southeast Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and in some areas of the Fraser Valley in the Mainland.