First reported in New York in 1868, garlic mustard had a very innocent beginning in America, in gardens and on dinner plates. European settlers brought the pungent herb with them for cooking purposes, unaware of the threat it would pose to our land. Of course, in 2012 we can clearly see the damaging effects of this invasive plant as it has spread across many states and Canadian provinces. Even if it’s still quite good for making a delicious pesto, garlic mustard poses a great challenge for us to protect our natural habitats.
Amidst all the changes of this past century and a half, we’ve also seen the emergence of environmentalism in America. Garlic mustard populations have grown exponentially, but in the meantime, there has been a steady rise in awareness of our need to protect the health of natural habitats. In a perfect world, this awareness would spread JUST as effectively as garlic mustard… but as the Challenge has shown us time and time again, one person’s efforts can easily turn into the efforts of many! Have you ever been out pulling garlic mustard or dame’s rocket and found yourself explaining to curious bystanders exactly what you’re doing? Have you recruited your friends and neighbors to help? So many land stewards have reported that as they get the garlic mustard out, they almost invariably get the word out.
In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks. – John Muir
In keeping with this trend, each year the total reports of pulled garlic mustard have grown larger and larger! These numbers not only represent the extent to which natural areas are being protected, they represent an ever expanding network of people. This is important to note in the long string of garlic mustard history, and so important to the future of our natural habitats.
Garlic Mustard Challenge yearly totals:
- 2008 — 128, 470 lbs
- 2009 — 158, 462 lbs
- 2010 — 243,216 lbs
- 2011 – 266,012 lbs
- 2012 – 308,032 lbs… and counting!!