Earth Day is Celebrated at the Johnson Nature Center and Bowers Farm
Bloomfield Hills Schools families celebrated Earth Day at Bowers Farm and The Johnson Nature Center. On Saturday, April 15, the farm showcased several different agricultural activities including a spotlight on composting, a focus on curtailing food waste, and several activities for visitors to enjoy throughout the day. This also kicked off Open Barn season, when the farm is open to the public. On Sunday, April 16, the nature center focused on nature-centered activities, including a morning of volunteers planting, weeding, and doing general clean-up, and an afternoon of vendors, guided hikes, and fishing opportunities.
At Bowers Farm, families enjoyed ice cream, face painting, meeting brand new baby farm animals, and learning from various vendor stations. Environmental consultant Sara Covatta offered demonstrations on composting. One of Covatta’s hands-on activities showed the water holding capacity of compost, detailing how water washes over clay, water rushes through and erodes away sand, but compost absorbs water, and you can squeeze it out like a sponge. One young onlooker understood immediately and exclaimed, “It’s like a water bottle for the plants!”
At the nature center, several families and groups filled the volunteer slots on Sunday morning. The Keiper family and the Baker family, who have been volunteering at JNC for the last four years, were removing invasive plants (buckthorn) from the outskirts of the sugar bush. Even the young helpers could pull the aggressive plants using special tools. Siblings Maddie and Charlie Baker said they enjoyed “getting to work in nature and seeing the progress as we work.” Cathy Wesley, a Naturalist at the JNC, described it best: “The invasive buckthorn creates a monoculture and they outcompete our native plants. Things don't eat them. The base of all food chains is plants, and the next level is insects. Insects are specialists and only utilize specific plants. When that level (insects) collapses because their food source is gone, the whole food chain will collapse. So we are removing the buckthorn so more natives can move back in.”
Other groups were beautifying the Log Cabin, transplanting flowers and wildflowers from the residence house, and working on the trails that allow visitors to enjoy the beauty of the center. Volunteer opportunities are always available.