Hands-On for the Beauty of the Earth

On Saturday April 17th, a crisp and sunny spring day, many UUCWC members and friends came to play in the dirt and help take care of and enjoy our grounds in recognition of Earth Day. Thanks to all who came out, we were able to clean up many fallen branches from the lawn by the entrance and better delineate the Meditation Trail. The highlight was the distribution and planting of 150 native saplings purchased from the NJ Dept. of Environmental Protection’s Division of Parks and Forestry.

The volunteers planted 26 shrubs and trees on UUCWC grounds, including some of each of the 6 varieties of the Earth Day give-away: Silky dogwood and Arrowwood viburnum shrubs, and Eastern Red Cedar, Red Maple, Sycamore and White-flowering Dogwood tree saplings. With Al Johnson’s expertise, great care was taken to protect the young plantings: collars were placed just below the surface of the soil to protect the tree and shrub roots from voles and wire fencing cages were constructed and secured with stakes to protect them from deer browse and lawn mowing equipment.

Combined with the fall 2020 plantings in the parking berms, a total of 51 new native shrubs have been planted at UUCWC, coinciding with the 51st anniversary of Earth Day! Native plantings enhance the wildlife habitat of the property by providing, food, shelter and nesting places for wildlife. By contrast, non-native species can become invasive by overtaking and crowding out the natives while offering little or no food sources for wildlife.

The spring clean-up and Earth Day activities concluded with a Mindful Meditation walk led by Sandy Unger along the Meditation Trail, following the soothing rushing water sounds of Jacob’s Creek along our property border. We strongly encourage all members to take a few moments and walk the trails, sit and enjoy the stream, trees, nature sounds and a few moments of pure peace.

We also checked on the fall 2020 plantings in the parking berms, made possible by 2 grants: UUCWC’s Endowment Fund and Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve. We were pleased to see that the Redbud memorial tree for Philo Elmer was starting to leaf-out (with one little pink cluster of flowers), as were the Arrowwood viburnum, American Cranberry, Elderberry and Red Chokeberry shrubs, and Black Cherry, Pagoda Dogwood, Serviceberry, Sweet Birch, and Witch Hazel trees.

All the cleanup efforts and planting put our 7th principle – respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part – into action, along with our commitment to sound land stewardship for our UUA Green Sanctuary Accreditation, River-Friendly Partner status and Wildlife Habitat designation. The Earth Ministry Team and Grounds Committee extend a big thank you to all who helped and especially to Jessie Boehm for initiating the sapling distribution and coordinating with RE families. Check out the church grounds and all the blooming plants that enhance our experiences next time you go to UUCWC!