MISSOULA – UM Dining recently acquired six Welsh Harlequin ducks. The new delegates patrol the South Avenue Garden – adjacent to the Iron Griz restaurant – managing pests and weeds, and providing eggs and natural fertilizer.
“Welsh Harlequins are good layers and foragers. They also tend to be calmer and friendlier than other breeds,” UM Dining Garden Manager Anastasia Orkwiszewski said.
This is important, since part of the ducks’ initiation to campus will be a photo shoot with the Grizzlies’ mascot, Monte.
The ducks arrived in the mail this April mere hours after hatching. Orkwiszewski cared for the flock in her basement until they were mature enough to inhabit the “duck house” and pool, designed and constructed in the garden by UM Dining staff and students.
Sixty Missoula preschoolers, teachers and parents – along with numerous members of the UM community – welcomed the adolescent ducks to their new home in an event held April 18. The festivities included a supervised meet-and-greet for kids, games and refreshments from the Iron Griz. Attendees also selected names for the ducks: Poppy, Hazel, Kiwi, Mabel, Etta and Duckleberry Finn.
According to Orkwiszewski, the ducks will provide a unique educational opportunity for community visitors and UM Dining garden and sustainability interns, in addition to supplying duck eggs to UM Dining chefs.
“I don’t know of any restaurant in Missoula that has its own laying poultry, so that’s special,” Orkwiszewski said.