Connecticut Audbon Society


Volunteers of Friends of Larsen Sanctuary in Fairfield complete “one for the books”

Volunteers from the Friends of Larsen group take a quick break while working near Farm Pond.

In the Sanctuaries …

April 8, 2021 — The volunteers of the Friends of Larsen Sanctuary group could hardly contain their enthusiasm after spending a long day planting native trees and shrubs recently.

Charlie Stebbins, one of the Friends’ leaders, put it succinctly: “It was one for the books!”

Twenty volunteers met at 8 a.m. at the 155-acre sanctuary, which is at the Center at Fairfield.

Guided by Charlie, Misty Beyer, Mary Hogue, and George Neamonitis, they planted 79 native trees and shrubs along the Fragrance Loop trail, near Farm Pond, in the pollinator garden, and along the entrance.

They also performed a spring cleanup around beds and plantings in back and front and around the barnyard. To top it off, they even patched potholes in the parking lot.

It was essential work — beneficial for the wildlife that lives in the sanctuary, and for the thousands of people who visit each year. It was also part of a growing effort by Connecticut Audubon and its volunteers to make those kinds of improvements at many of the organization’s 20 sanctuaries.

The work directly benefits the birds, mammals, insects, and other wildlife that thrive on native plants. There are ongoing volunteer-led projects at the Coastal Center at Milford Point; the Smith Richardson Preserve in Westport; Deer Pond Farm in Sherman; the Haagenson Preserve in East Haddam; and Birdcraft Sanctuary in Fairfield.

Before the Larsen work session, Charlie Stebbins said he doubted they could finish the work in one day.

Among the native plants that went in at Larsen are chokeberry, red twig dogwood, elderberry, and buttonbush.

“But we managed to plant every shrub purchased last week and the prior — 79 native beauties,” he said.

Those include 25 plants along the three-mile Fragrance Loop — arrowwood and cranberry viburnum, sassafras, sweet pepperbush, buttonbush, and swamp sweetbells.

The Fragrance Loop portion of the project is partially funded by a grant from the Hollis Declan Memorial Fund. Charlie Stebbins also contributed many of the shrubs and trees.

The loop curves through moist, shady forest and features fragrant native plants and fruit-bearing shrubs that attract birds, bees, and butterflies with their sweet aromas, nectars, and food sources.

In the pollinator garden, the volunteers planted sweet pepperbush, sweetbells, elderberry, and grey birch. Among the trees and shrubs that went in along Farm Pond were chokeberry, red twig dogwood, elderberry, and buttonbush.

“It was a wonderful day for the ever-expanding Friend of Larsen corps,” Charlie said.

If you’re interested in volunteering for sanctuary work, here’s a list of sanctuaries with opportunities, and the people to contact:

Friends of Larsen, FairfieldMisty Beyer
Friends of Smith Richardson, WestportCharlie Stebbins
Birdcraft (Fairfield) & Milford Point Coastal CenterStefan Martin
Deer Pond Farm, ShermanCathy Hagadorn
Haagenson, East HaddamAndy Rzeznikiewicz







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