On a sunny autumn day, dozens of folks turned out for our first ever, Acorn Festival. We greeted visitors with cider, squirrel shaped cookies, and doughnuts. There were various activities for children in the park. In the Children’s Arboretum we planted acorns. First they chose an acorn. either chestnut, red, white, sawtooth, black, or scarlet oak. We taught the children to drop an acorn in a bucket of water. If it floats, it’s rotten…if it sinks, it’s healthy. Acorns from the white oak family are ready to grow immediately and some of those acorns had roots already emerging from the nut. The red oak family requires stratification (over-wintering) before they emerge in the spring. The acorns were placed in small biodegradable bags in our planting beds. Our beds will be ready for our spring tree planting event in April. Bill Flemer provided oak seedlings and there were other varieties for children to adopt -a-tree to take home and care for.
Outside the Children’s Arboretum several more activities took place. Janet Sheppard sewed charming acorn toss pillows for the children to play with. They had a blast playing this game! Next to the acorn toss, a sensory box containing soil and cups gave the children a chance to get their hands dirty making mud-pies. Another hands-on activity involved small rounds of tree trunks Andy Sutphin cut and volunteers painted with chalkboard paint. Kids drew on them with chalk using their imagination and were able to take them home.
Bonnie Walker spread a blanket on the ground for story-time, reading books such as, Don Freeman’s Earl the Squirrel, which delighted the children.
Out and about in the Arboretum, we provided a map of oaks growing in the park. We tied ribbons to the trees so the children could find them. This was a great way to see how large oaks can grow. Some of the trees date from over a hundred years ago!
As we continue to develop programming in the Children’s Arboretum, we strive to bring families to the park to learn and play. It is proving to be a wonderful way to engage with the community and bring more visitors – of all ages – to the park.
Thanks to all who helped out with the Acorn Festival:
Becca Flemer, Evie, Lucia, Gianna and Isabella Timberlake, Ana Clemente, Emily Kleaver, Helena Bienstock, Annette Merle-Smith, Andy Sutphin, Janet Sheppard, Jennifer Saltman, Bonnie Walker, Karen Reed, Emily Reeves, Tina Berggen and Patty Sue Beach, high school volunteers: Sam Tabeart and Mats Eyckman, Lilly Krauss, Bill Flemer, Pam Machold, Welmoet Van Kammen.