Progress continues at Fairsing Vineyard as participants in the Willamette Valley Oak Accord.
The Oak Accord, led by the Willamette Partnership, is a voluntary conservation agreement by landowners in Oregon’s Willamette Valley to protect and restore native oak habitat on their property.
Fairsing Vineyard is a founding signatory member of the Oak Accord and completed initial phases of the ecological assessment.
Since the launch of the project in 2017, all initial plantings appear to be thriving and in good health.
Saplings planted in March 2018 enjoyed beneficial growing seasons with abundant fall acorn production by select mature oaks across the estate.
It has been suggested that oak trees possess an inherent awareness triggering reproduction in anticipation of an agreeable growing season the following year.
Over the course of a few weeks in the fall of 2018 and again in 2019, we harvested several hundred acorns from the damp forest floor, most of which appeared to be dropped by a single stately tree from the eastern forest beneath our southeastern Pinot noir blocks.
The seedlings from these acorns were nourished before planting throughout the estate as Fairsing continues to expand its oak habitat.
Oak trees possess an inherent awareness of an upcoming agreeable growing season and trigger increased acorn generation in anticipation of expanding populations.
In addition to estate-procured nuts, Fairsing acquired several hundred acorns from fellow Oak Accord signatory Zena Forest Products, located in the Eola Hills.
While visiting to pick up the soon-to-be-seeds, the kind folks at Zena shared the interesting role Blue Jays play in propagating and planting oak trees.
The blue jay, in preparation of winter food storage, facilitated transport and (thus increased dispersion) of acorns.
The oak is a slow-growing tree, and after the decline of the most recent ice age, it most likely would have been out-paced and out-competed by faster growing conifers if left to their own devices.
The mutualism between jays and oaks is well documented as they evolved together with the jay developing a small hook at the tip of their bill to rip open acorn husks and an expanded esophagus (gular pouch) that can hold up to five acorns.
In fact, it has been observed that a single blue jay can transport 110 acorns per day.
While not currently partnering with the birds to help disperse acorns, it is something Fairsing may consider.
Saplings and other oak plantings continue to thrive among and complement ourexisting ecosystem infrastructure as we aspire to preserve the essence of Fairsing for future generations. Stay tuned!
Learn more about the assessment and initial participation phases with the Willamette Valley Oak Accord
Follow additional sustainable and biodiverse initiatives at Fairsing Vineyard