The Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network is pleased to announce our partnership with Food for Thought, an inspiring northwest Michigan business taking the lead in turning ecological lemons into lemonade. Food for Thought is not only allowing ISN to attach an informative sticker to jars of Autumn Berry Preserves to direct customers to ISN’s website, Food for Thought is also donating all Autumn Berry profits to ISN for wildlife habitat! In return, ISN is pledging to remove an autumn olive bush in natural areas for each jar of jam sold. This partnership won’t stop autumn olive in its tracks, but it provides an excellent opportunity to increase awareness of invasive species while slowing the spread of seeds.
Whether you call it Autumn Berry, autumn olive, or Elaeagnus umbellata, autumn olive has an ironic history. Originally introduced in the 1830s to control erosion and shelter game species, land managers soon found it dominating the landscapes it had been planted to protect. We now know that when we brought autumn olive from its home in Asia, it left its insect predators behind, which allowed it to grow out of control in our natural areas. In addition to suppressing and out-competing many native plants, autumn olive fails to support wildlife throughout the growing seasons. For example, in spring and summer when birds require massive amounts of protein for rearing their young, autumn olive supports very few insects to feed these nestlings, resulting in a “hole” in the food web.
It’s important to note that only removing invasive plants can stop the negative impacts they have on the environment. Luckily, Food For Thought has promised to donate all profits from Autumn Berry Preserves to ISN. These funds will be put toward promoting wildlife habitat in natural areas—including removing autumn olive! ISN Partners have pledged to remove an autumn olive shrub from natural areas for every jar sold. Check out ISN’s website for more information about supporting habitat at home, in the community, and in natural areas, or read up on amazing natives to plant in place of autumn olive. You’ll probably need fuel for all that work, so why not try a tasty autumn berry treat?
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