To celebrate Earth Day today, Fords and others are planting a rain garden across from the Duck Pond, turning in electronics for recycling and getting a free, small plant in return, and reading Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax in front of Founders.
This morning, Brandon Sickel, 19, a freshman from Silver Spring, Md., and Vivian Sun, 20, a sophomore majoring in biology, dig into the clay-like hard soil in two depressions near the Duck Pond and then place a three-foot, water-loving pond cypress into the shallow hole. And so begins a new rain garden. The project is a collaboration between Haverford College Arboretum and the student-run Committee for Environmental Responsibility.
“I work with the Arboretum,” Sickel says. “I wanted to show support. I also wanted to plant trees. I think the campus has cool trees, and I wanted to be a part of that.” The eight native species trees, which can grow to 8o feet or more, will reduce significantly the amount of run-off water from the paved College Lane, explains Bill Astifan, Arboretum director. “They like their feet wet,” he says of the pond cypress that will eventually grow “knees,” or root projections. “The trees help absorb the water and remove pollutants.”
Before the rain garden, the run-off from impervious surfaces was headed to the stream, causing erosion and dumping pollutants. Astifan estimates that the rain garden would slow down run-off rain water by about 50 percent. The garden also should decrease pollutants by about 30 percent.
“It was fun,” Sun, who hails from Taipei, Taiwan, and Edison, N.J., says while taking a break. “I’ve never done anything like this before.” In fact, the aspiring elementary school teacher came out in large part to stretch her comfort zone, something that was encouraged in a class she’s taking at the University of Pennsylvania on teaching science to middle school and elementary students.
“Being behind the scenes is cool,” she added.
—Lini S. Kadaba
Photos by Patrick Montero