By KATHLEEN DUFFY
Haddonfield’s earth-minded community groups are coming together to celebrate their environmental passions.
The All Rhoads Lead to Crows Woods Earth Day celebration is scheduled to kick off at 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 27 at the Crows Woods Nature Preserve Pavilion.
For four hours, members of Sustainable Haddonfield, the Environmental Commission, the Historical Society of Haddonfield, the Shade Tree Commission and Crows Woods Gardeners will descend on the land and bring along activities, displays and enthusiasm.
“We have had the town Earth Day at Crows Woods for at least the past eight years to help promote our town’s largest park,” Kim Custer, a member of the historical society, said. “Our hope for doing this exhibit is to inspire the new generation of naturalists.”
Featured activities include live raptors, 300 cupcakes to celebrate Haddonfield’s birthday, kids crafts, lawn games, nature hikes and tree advice, according to the event’s flyer.
Haddonfield Child Care EDKP will be sponsoring classic games at the event.
Sustainable Haddonfield’s chair, Julie Beddingfield, said that, in light of the tricentennial, the sponsors wanted to bring in activities to celebrate Haddonfield’s natural history.
This is the only public event out of the gardens each year, she said.
“One of our great features are our trees,” she said.
One of the original green team members, Nancy Ashton, died from cancer last year. To memorialize her, a tree will be planted in her honor at Crows Woods.
At 10:30 a.m., the branch managers from the Shade Tree Commission will be holding a tree planting and pruning demonstration at the tree, she said.
The day also marks the kick off of the Tricentennial Tree Sale and Community Planting Day.
“We’re looking at the tricentennial tree sale as a way for people to, in essence, help celebrate the tricentennial of our town while leaving a living legacy,” said Robin Potter, the Shade Tree Commission’s chair. “The Shade Tree Commission has put together a selection of small, medium and large shade trees. Starting on the 27th of April, we’re going to be selling those with the object of having them delivered for pick up.”
Trees would then be planted around town, near streets and parks, which is beneficial to the community since most of the focus is on tree removal rather than plantings due to a tight budget, she said.
“We’ll be ready to talk trees with whoever wants to talk with us,” she said.
Trees won’t be the only plant dug into the ground that day. The Crows Woods gardeners will be planting sunflower seeds and painting seed pots with children, Beddingfield said.
The gardeners are set apart due to a lengthy history in town, she said, whereas community gardens in surrounding towns are just beginning to sprout.
As another highlight, the Academy of the Natural Sciences of Drexel University will be bringing along live raptors from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“Part of the goal is to get people outside and out into the woods,” she said. “It’s a forgotten gem sometimes at Crows Woods.”
In turn, Butch Brees will be taking a hike to the beaver dam at 11 a.m.
“He knows a lot of what’s going on with the beavers,” she said.
Students from Haddonfield Memorial High School will have Earth Day displays, including a group bringing rain barrels for crafts with kids.
“They’ll actually paint them with the kids that day,” she said.
But perhaps the most exciting activity for kids and adults equipped with a sweet tooth will be the 300 cupcakes baked by volunteers to celebrate Haddonfield’s birthday and Samuel Nicholson Rhoads’ birthday. They will be served at 1:30 p.m.
“We’re going to try to get 300 to give away,” Beddingfield said.
There will be historical society displays about Rhoads’ work, who has collections at the Academy of Natural Sciences and is known as Haddonfield’s most prominent historical naturalist.
Custer was involved in the research document titled, “Legacy in the Making, Past, Present and Future of Ornithology at the Academy of Natural Sciences – the Rhoads Project” at the academy.
According to the document, Rhoads lived from 1862 to 1952 and his work lives on through thousands of specimens he collected.
“When the academy learned of the historical society’s extensive collections of Rhoads’ papers from throughout his life, it was decided that bringing together the specimens and the journals could reveal the details of his scientific pursuits, the historical details of his travels and a personal perspective of the life of an early 20th century naturalist in a way never before accomplished,” the document reads.
His work has helped many scientific pursuits.
“Using the works of Rhoads, we also are able to bring to light the details and comparisons of modern Academy Ornithologists and field expeditions,” the document says.
On the event day, visitors are encouraged to bring a reusable water container and bagged lunch. Snacks and water will be provided.
By 2 p.m., attendees should’ve experienced a family friendly, picnic feel and learned from the area’s naturalists.
“We try to get together as many of the groups,” Beddingfield said.
The All Rhoads Lead to Crows Woods, A Tricentennial Earth Day Celebration, is slated for Saturday, April 27 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Crows Woods Nature Preserve Pavilion off South Atlantic Avenue.
It is a rain or shine, free event.