With the stay at home order in effect, Earth Day celebrations will be very different this year. The good news is that parks and trails are still open for walking – although the weather is not very cooperative today..
Ann Arbor Nature Walks
With facilities like restrooms and water fountains closed, it is best to choose shorter trails that are close to home. Also, with young children I would avoid walks that they associate with a playground so there are not tears when you cannot visit the playground.
Remember to keep social distance of 6 feet when walking along trails.
1 – Nichols Arboretum or Matthaei Botanical Gardens
The Nichols Arboretum is still open for walking. Enjoy a walk through the Arb or visit Matthaei. I have heard that the trails at the Arb are not too crowded so you can maintain a safe social distance. At Matthaei parking is currently free and only the trails are open, not the children’s garden.
2 – Bandemer Park or Argo Nature Area
Ann Arbor’s Bandemer Park and Argo Nature Area are on opposite sides of the Huron River. Bandemer has two parking areas, one on Lake Shore Dr accessible from Main St and one accessible from Whitmore Lake Rd. Argo has a parking area near the Livery (with the livery closed parking should be much easier than on a typical summer day). These are not the best option with strollers or wheelchairs since many of the paths are unpaved. If it was a warmer day, we would be bringing my daughter’s inflatable kayak for some time on the river.
3 – Leslie Science & Nature Center
The grounds remain open at the Leslie Science & Nature Center. Stop by and visit the Raptor Enclosures and then take a walk through Black Pond Woods. Remember to avoid touching things and also to avoid the areas that are marked off due to high metals in soil testing.
4 – Parker Mill County Park
Washtenaw County’s Parker Mill County Park has parking areas off of Geddes Rd and along Old Dixboro Rd. The park has paved paths, boardwalks, and gravel paths. Be sure to check the trail types if you have a stroller, wheel chair, or limited mobility. It connects to Gallup Park and the Border to Border Trail.
5 – County Farm Park
Yes, you can still visit County Farm Park without going near the playground. Enter from the Medford Road entrance and take the Nature Trail through Britton Woods. You can also use portions of the other trails. Be sure to check out the trail map if you want to steer clear of the playground area.
6 – Lillie Park
Pittsfield Township’s Lillie Park is located at the southeast corner of Ellsworth and Platt Rd. It is split into North and South. Lillie Park North has a small parking lot accessible from Platt Rd and a 0.8 mile trail, and no playground. The Lillie Park South playground is located at its parking area, but it does have some great trails through the woods if your kids will be ok skipping the playground.
Activity Sheets & Crafts
7 – Ann Arbor Parks Sheets
During the closures, Ann Arbor Parks is providing coloring and activity sheets for students. A couple that are particularly relevant for Earth Day are:
8 – Nature Scavenger Hunt
Ann Arbor Earth Day shared a nature scavenger hunt from Doing Good Together. Take the sheet with you on one of the hikes highlighted above.
9 – Windsock Craft
Make a windsock by upcycling a toilet paper roll in this tutorial from Easy Peasy and Fun. (Also shared by Ann Arbor Earth Day)
10 – Upcycle old T-shirts
Ann Arbor’s Earth Day page suggests upcycling old t-shirts into t-shirt bags and pet toys. A t-shirt bag is a great way to upcycle old t-shirts. My daughter has tons of old season Rec & Ed uniform shirts. The are great to turn into a bag which can then be used to store and transport their sports gear. My daughter has done both projects through Girl Scouts. As a Brownie she did this with an old soccer shirt and it was perfect for storing her cleats and shin guards. Plus it is easy to wash. Her Bronze award as a Junior was making pet toys for the Humane Society.
Make the Most of your Food
There are many ways to repurpose food scraps, particularly vegetables to minimize waste.
11 – Regrow from Plant Scraps
Do you know that you can regrow food from scraps? My teen currently has a gardening elective this quarter. We are exploring regrowing lettuce, onion, garlic, celery, and potatoes. We are also saving seeds to try peppers.
12 – Make your own stock
When cutting up vegetables, I save all of the scraps in a bag in the freezer. When the bag is full, I toss the contents in my Instant Pot, fill with water, and pressure cook for 20 minutes to make a stock. I strain and freeze in smaller batches. I got 8 cups out of my last batch.
You can also make stock from bones – chicken, beef, and pork/ham. Leave some meat on the bone and cook. You can make regular stock, or cook longer to make bone broth.
Virtual Events & Activities
13 – Ann Arbor Earth Day Festival
The Ann Arbor Earth Day Festival has gone virtual for 2020. Family Friendly activities include:
- 1-1:30p Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum presents Wind Energy
- 2-3:30p Youth Panel: What Gives You Hope on Earth Day
- 5-5:30p Earth Day BINGO
- 8p Coert Ambrosino reads the Children’s book Mama Miti
You need to register and then they will send you the link to join in.I registered this morning and it took about 5 minutes to get the link.
14 – Happy Birthday Earth Day
Local Environmental Musician Joe Reilly will be performing live at 4p on April 22. The event is co-sponsored by the Ann Arbor Darth Day Festival.
15 – Burh Becc House Tour
On Saturday, take a virtual tour of the Burh Becc House – a net zero energy, water, and waste house. This is the perfect opportunity to learn more if you have young children who you wouldn’t take on a live tour.
16 – Michigan DNR
The Michigan DNR has an extensive page of virtual activities plus indoor and outdoor activities. Take a virtual field trip to a DNR Fish Hatchery, be a tree detective at Hartwick Pines, learn about snakes, and much more.