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Weeds to Reeds

Ecology, Conservation, and the Modern Musician

Reed Making Workshops
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Much focus has been placed on human contributions to climate change. Another crucial element, but often overlooked, is the degree to which exotic plant species harm the environment. Specifically, the invasive grass arundo donax, a.k.a. giant cane, is creating a major “drain” on fresh water sources globally. Particularly in California, arundo is exacerbating the drought crisis, consuming an amount equivalent to a city of approximately 200,000 per year.


Musicians who play woodwind instruments use this material to make their reeds, and thereby have a vested interest in collecting it for their personal use. Ironically, most musicians who rely on cane also lack the knowledge that it is a true ecological scourge, and a pervasive, global threat to water sustainability.

This project educates and deploys musicians to eradicate arundo in drought-stricken areas, where water supplies are most threatened. Existing eradication projects generally involve aerial spraying of herbicides. Our research will explore effective removal techniques that minimize toxic chemicals.


“Weeds to Reeds” has four main goals:

1. to empower musicians to make a direct impact on water sustainability

2. to disseminate principles of environmental conservation

3. to educate young musicians in the art and craft of reed making

4. to offer support and supply reeds to K-12 music programs

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