ChicoryLane Mission and Values

Ecological Enhancement Balanced With Preservation
Through Collaborative Informed Stewardship

In Seven Loaded Words . . .


The study of living organisms including human beings and the contexts in which they live, especially the natural world. It views the whole as a complex system encompassing and dependent upon the many levels and types of interactions among them. ChicoryLane views  itself as a small, integral part of this natural world.


We believe as the owners of CLF we have a responsibility to make our portion of The Land, as described by Aldo Leopold, better. And if we can't, not worse. This responsibility is largely self-generated and derives from respect for the land and its inhabitants. It includes attempting to make the natural ecological systems work better and provide an improved habitat for its occupants.


Balance is the most important term in the equation. Many things can be balanced or not: ecological diversity vs. preservation, more vs. less, aesthetic vs. pragmatic, altruism vs. personal preference. For example, increasing the diversity of native plants species can make the ecological system more robust, more interesting, more accomodating to diverse wildlife. Yet, planting rows of different species of plants, while literally increasing diversity, is likely to provide less ecological benefit than fewer species selected for particular purposes.


Change is often good. Intoducing new plant species can bring in new wildlife, increase interest and aesthetic appeal, extend the period of habitation by wildlife, etc. But, noting what is already present is often a strong indicator of favorable conditions for specific or related species. Thereby, possibly suggesting that more of the same may be preferable to going in a new direction. Honor the species that have come to you and do no harm.


As landowners, we think of ourselves as being partners in a collaborative relationship with our land. We have over the years introduced changes, ranging from planting individual plants of a new species to repurposing former agricultural fields (~16 acres) as native grasslands and (~13 acres) as a oak mixed hardwood reforestations. Planting is the first step that is always followed by a response from the plant, species, or the area. If all goes well, we may sit back and enjoy the result or we may lament a failed innovation. The important point, however, is to note the response of the habitat to our actions. It will be brutally frank with us: flourishing if it likes what we have done, dying if it does not agree strongly enough, or languishing in varying degrees, in between.


We are writing for the engaged landowner. We realize some projects of scale reequire external management and operations, but we focus here on lands of approximately 100 acres that likely include active participation by the landowner, occasional outside volunteers or contract professional for particular serices. For this landowner, gathering information before  lannching a project involving unfamiliar materials or conditions is common sense. As important as gathering outside information is observing the land directly, seeing what it is doing and what it can tell us, and being conscious of the collaborative relationship described above. Reflective experience may ultimately be the best source of knowledge.


Stewardship is what it's all about. We believe land has intrinisc value, in and of itself. Not just what it can provide to us in the way of crops, or sites on which to build our buildings, or even places for recreation. We need to engage it as we might a friend or loved one - a relationship built on sharing but including differences, one that recognizes independence and self-determination beyond our personal interest in or ability to control. It should surely include respect for the land and allowing it to surprise us, to give us comfort and joy, but also freedom to change on its own and in ways that we might not like at first sight. It is, after all, a living, breathing thing that is fully capable of communicating to us. Not in some mystical way, but in clear, pragmatic, albeit interesting and sometimes beautiful ways.