By Coggin Heeringa, Program Director/Naturalist, Crossroads at Big Creek, Inc.
Maybe it’s our name – “Crossroads” – but it often seems that apparently disparate programs and projects intersect here. For example, currently, our archaeological research team is waiting for the results of interpretive analyses of artifacts that have been systematically unearthed by students from area schools and interested adult learners during our popular “BIG DIGS” (archaeological outreach programs).
They speculate that people were first attracted to The Cove Preserve by the annual sucker run. And on Thursday, March 17, Crossroads will present the final lecture of the 2022 Fish Tales Lecture Series. Dr. Karen Murchie, Director of Freshwater Research at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, will present “Suckers – Swimming Superheroes of the Great Lakes.” She will describe the ecology and importance of suckers in the Great Lakes, especially in the Sturgeon Bay area.
Our archaeologists are particularly interested in artifacts from The Cove Preserve, a state-registered archaeological site, number 47DR-428, from 930-1220 years ago. Our collective knowledge of the First Nation People in Door County during this period is incomplete. Yet with each season of excavation, our archaeologists and community volunteers uncover more pieces of the puzzle to reconstruct this period when First Nation People were becoming involved in horticulture.
So, it is timely that on Thursday, March 24, the Door County Master Gardeners Association is offering a lecture called, “Buffalo Bird Woman’s World,” which will be presented by Frank Kutka of Brussels, WI.
Kutka is a faculty member of the College of the Menominee Nations where he is facilitating the development of a degree program in Sustainable Agriculture. He also is an independent plant breeder who works with maize, beans, squash, cowpeas, sorghum, onions and rye.
He will tell the story of Maxidiwiac, or Buffalo Bird Woman, born in 1839, who was able to raise amazing gardens using traditional gardening techniques passed down from generation to generation over the centuries. Her story was recorded in a book, “Buffalo Bird Woman’s Garden,” which Kutka will describe as he shares information pertaining to traditional approaches to growing crops and saving seeds.
The lecture will be presented in-person in the lecture hall of the Collins Learning Center at Crossroads at 6:30 p.m., in collaboration with the Door County Seed Library and Crossroads at Big Creek.
As a part of our restoration efforts, we have been researching the land history of Crossroads and have learned that by the early 1900s, apple orchards were being planted. We know that European honeybees were brought to America during colonial times. So we have to wonder if those early “Wealthy” apples were pollinated by wild native bees or domestic honeybees.
We do know that these days, beekeeping is becoming popular. On Tuesday, March 22, at 6:30 p.m. the Door County Beekeepers will hold their March meeting. Mark Lentz will present a program on “Equipment and Supplies for Beekeeping” in the Collins Learning Center lecture hall at 2041 Michigan St. The goal of this program is to is to help new or interested beekeepers determine what they will need to get started in this fascinating hobby.
Currently our new bridges and boardwalks are under construction. (And, yes, initially they look large, but this is because we are following best management practices for wetland and creek protection. As vegetation returns they will become well integrated into the preserve.) We appreciate visitors’ patience as this project progresses. We also appreciate financial contributions to fund the replacement of our Pike’s Passage Bridge later this year. Donations to the bridge projects can be made online at crossroadsatbigcreek.org or by sending a check to Crossroads at Big Creek, P.O. Box 608, Sturgeon Bay, WI, 54235.