BROOMBUSTERS HISTORY. More on "About Broombusters"
Broombusters began in May 2006.
An enthusiastic response by towns, ministries and community was
In 2006, several major roadways, primarily in Qualicum Beach, were
cleared of broom In 2007, the participation expanded to over 100
volunteers with over 1000 volunteer hours, working on the roads
from Nanoose to Port Alberni to Bowser.
In 2006, the Town of Qualicum Beach and the Ministry of Transportation
set the example of supporting Broombusters with donations of tools,
chipping trucks and crew. In 2007, Parksville and Port Alberni also
got involved. Many individuals and neighbors took advantage of the
Ministry of Transportation’s commitment to chip any broom
cut along their roads.
The primary role of Broombusters is education. Because of the visible
work of Broombusters, countless numbers of individuals privately
cleared their own land and roads of broom. We noticed the work of
“broom brownies” everywhere, with piles of broom cut
beside the road - and we’ll never know who did the work! That
is our goal - an active and supported community, independently taking
on the environmental stewardship of the Vancouver Island.
Who are these Broombusters?
Everyone and anyone. High school and middle school students. Home schoolers. Retirees.
Farmers and town folks. Garden club members and environmentalists.
Teachers. Mayors and Town council members. People from all income brackets and lifestyles. Ages 3 to 89. Anyone and
everyone is welcome to participate. Many have expressed how welcome
they felt, for there are no “social distinctions” among
those with loppers in hand and a common intent. Neighbors who previously
did not know each other begin to talk and work together. It’s
a real community builder!
Where have Broombusters been working?
One of the catalyzsts for the start of Broombusters was the Town
of Qualicum Beach who said they didn’t have the manpower to
remove the 6 foot tall broom that lined Village Way for many years.
Broombuster founder Joanne Sales asked, “If you can’t
do it, can we? Will you help us?” The answer was an enthusiastic
YES! Now so many volunteers have become active in Qualicum Beach
that the roads and parks will become broom free again in a few years.
It is difficult to show the success of people who have removed Scotch
broom - because once removed, the area looks normal and healthy!
One would have to see the area before the broom is cut to see what
a difference broom removal makes. If you don’t see Scotch
broom along a section of road, it’s probably because someone
has been at work. If you do see Scotch broom, it means that the
people in that neighborhood need inspiration, tools, education and
help! That is why Broombusters is here.
The Story - The Origins
Broombusters started the way
all movements start. A group of friends were talking....
This group was at the Errington Market, a small thriving farmers
& crafts market in a wooded park in Errington. Standing beside
Sunshine’s stall with herbs and oils, the conversation turned
to Scotch Broom. “It’s everywhere!” “A catastrophe.”
“It’s so much worse than last year.” On and on.
Joanne Sales decided to find out what was being done about it. Many
individuals were cutting broom on their own property, and a few
groups were removing broom from specific parks. But other than that,
there was not much being done about Scotch broom in Spring 2006.
Scotch broom seemed to be slipping through the cracks - EVERYWHERE.
It was quickly apparent that if the people of the Island wanted
to keep scotch broom from taking over the Island, they would have
to show that it was a priority - and start cutting it themselves.
And they did.
Joanne Sales conceived of the idea of Broombusters. She made tons
of phone calls. Everyone was concerned about the broom problem,
but the quickest responses to support the Broombusting effort came
from the town of Qualicum Beach through Wendy Mauer, and the Ministry
of Transportation through Bob Hickman. As a means of communication,
the broombuster website was put up: www.broombusters.org.
Broombusters had hundreds of emails flying all over Vancouver Island,
talks on local radio stations, a television story, and articles
and pictures in local papers. A dedicated core group of about thirty
people did most of the organized cutting in the Oceanside area between 2006-7 - leaving piles and piles of broom beside the roads which were
picked up by the Ministry of Transportation or the town crew of
Qualicum Beach. Home and farm owners cut and burned massive amounts
of broom on their own properties. Another group of Port Alberni
residents organized and completed a large broom removal on a hillside
beside the hospital... In June, the broom went to seed. Cutting
had to stop for the 2006 season.
The next year, there were many more individuals, garden clubs, groups and towns
involved. Each effort was unique and self directed. All efforts
were respected and welcome! The effort continued,
the movement grew.
By 2008, we knew we were doing our job because some people
got very upset! "Why are you attacking Scotch broom?"
If we hadn't been making progress, they would not have noticed. By
2009, there were practically no complaints. Public support is strongly in favor
of controlling this invasive plant! Each year, more towns get involved. We partnership with other groups as well, as we are all working towards the same goal. We're all in this together.
You don't have to join Broombusters to cut broom! People have been cutting broom for centuries! However, if you want to cut broom as part of broombusters, we need you to contact us so that you can work together, arrange pick up, and include you with any insurance coverage that may be available. For everyone's protection, you need to sign a waiver. Then we'll support you and your community in any way that we can!
There is great need for people to step
forward to get the energy going in their own community, town, and
neighborhood. If you actually want to join the Broombusters
Invasive Plant Society, we welcome you to contact us. Please email.
Many thanks to all volunteers, known and unknown - and to you!