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Reed Collecting for Thatching with Deanne Bednar

by Tara

It's time for our reed-collecting workshop at last! With tools in hand, we enter a waving sea of phragmites reeds via a thin tunnel that Deanne has already cleared. As we make our way to the secluded collection area, I'm struck by how tall and beautiful the plants are.

Garret Walking into Reed Field Kari Bundling Up Reed Field

Eventually we come to a large opening, completely hidden from the road. There, Deanne demonstrates how to harvest the reeds with a sickle. It's a pretty straightforward process, and soon we're doing it ourselves.

Deanne Cutting Reeds Deanne Inspecting Reeds DeAnne Cutting Reeds

We gather the plants, carrying great armfuls to a handmade jig that lets us know when we have enough to make a bundle. When the fill-line is reached, it's time to wrap them up.

Deanne Carrying Reeds Garrett Carrying Reed Bundles Kari Carrying Reed Bunde Tyler Carrying Reed Bundle Reed Bundle Fill Line

Twine is measured...

Deanne Measuring Reed Cord

...and secured around the bundle. A special quick-release knot holds the reeds tightly, making them easy to carry for transport, and easy to release when it comes time to thatch.

Reed Bundle Twine Tying Reed Bundle Twine Tying Reed Bundle Twine Tying Reed Bundle Twine Tying Reed Bundle Twine Tying Reed Bundle Twine Tying Reed Bundle Twine Tying

Next, the seed-heads are removed as the bundles are cut to 5 foot lengths. Debris is cleaned from the specimen, and then it's ready to go!

Reed Bundle Twine Tying Deanne Cutting Reed Bundle to Length Deanne Cleaning Reed Bundle Deanne's Reed Bundle

After a few hours of practice in the field, it's time to call it a day. We carry the bundles out, stuff them into Deanne's car, and head back to her house to debrief, have lunch, and hug everyone goodbye. It's time to hit the road for our final leg to Vermont!

Reed Bundles in Car

There is no substitute for hands-on experience—after today's workshop, all of our uncertainties concerning reed collecting have disappeared. Now that we've seen how simple it can be, we feel ready to harvest our own phragmites for thatching. We can totally do this!

Us in a Reed Field

Thank you for sharing this empowering knowledge with us, Deanne!