How Viewing The Lorax Lead to the Fifth Anniversary The Savage Cabbage Bash
by Jo Ann Collins
In 2012, I planned a short bike ride along the Trinity Trail for my daughter and me to see The Lorax at the theater off of 7th Street. The Lorax is one of Dr. Suess’s greatest books about environmental awareness. We enjoyed the movie and headed home on our bikes down the Trinity Trail! As we made our way down the trail, we saw a new wildflower that I had never seen before. It oddly resembled the Truffula Trees featured in Dr. Suess’s classic movie we had just seen. We decided to call them Truffula Flowers. I took note and soon tried to find out what this mysterious flower was.
It didn’t take long to find out what we had witnessed was a fairly recent invasive species that has taken up residence all across the Metroplex! I am a substitute teacher for FWISD, so upon finding out its common name is Bastard Cabbage, I used it as an attention-grabber for getting students interested in recognizing invasive species. I often use my Master Naturalist and native plant knowledge to try to excite students about getting outdoors and attend local nature events! Saying the B-word goes a long way in getting a high school student to pay attention to what I am talking about. In fact, I have even been called the “B” teacher by some students when they see me later!
On a day in 2016, while substituting, I happened to bring Bastard Cabbage up to a class of 6th-grade women at the Young Women’s Leadership Academy in Fort Worth. I told them that the plant was found along the Trinity Trails and how I wished I could get some people to help me pull it up! They said we could do that! We began to discuss how to find sponsors for the event. Remembering that Tarrant Regional Water District used gloves and trash bags for their Trinity River Trash Bash, it seemed like a perfect fit to have them contact Tarrant Regional Water District Board Member, Marty Leonard, who also happens to be a big supporter of YWLA.
Soon we had a meeting set up with TRWD’s Tina Hendon and Marty Leonard to plan the event at the Tarrant Regional Water District office which was only a few blocks away from the YWLA downtown campus. Calling it The Bastard Cabbage Bash seemed a bit unladylike, so the girls decided to call it The Savage Cabbage Bash! The event was scheduled and was a huge success. We had nearly 40 family members from the school come out and bag close to 100 bags of this invasive species.
Over the last 4 years, we have continued to have the event. After two years of doing it, the maintenance staff of the TRWD called us to see if we were still coming. The event is now sponsored by the Fort Worth chapter of the Native Prairies Association of Texas. We have also partnered with students from Greta Bowling’s and Pansy Sheffield’s classes at TCC. Students from my Community Service Remind Group have also participated. The areas where we pulled it up are virtually BC free! Since BC is an annual, pulling it is a very successful strategy in its eradication. In fact, TRWD maintenance staff have pointed out a new area to work this year since the areas we have done are pretty much BC free. If you are ever on the Trinity Trails between the Press Cafe and the Interstate 30 bridge, you have seen our work!
Due to it success, the event needs to be moved! This year we will be working on the trail at the bridge near the intersection of Bellaire and Hulen. Both sides of the inlet to the river there have large areas of Bastard Cabbage. The 5th Annual Savage Cabbage Bash will happen on March 21 starting at 9 and lasting until 12. Participants can meet us there at the area and park in the lot near the Tom Thumb, or along the roadway on the west side of the bridge. We will have signs up to publicize the event to the public for awareness. We will have students from the ages of 12, students from Tarrant County Colleges, and other organizations participating. Community Service Hours can be offered for those students who are collecting hours.
So if you need some nature therapy to help you deal with the all-out assault on nature these days, join us for some Bastard Cabbage removal. Feel free to think of your favorite “B” when pulling it up! It’s a great stress relief!
Contact JoAnn Collins at email@example.com for information. You can find more information on the Fort Worth chapter of the Native Prairies Association of Texas Facebook page.
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