Revitalizing Campus’ Natural Habitat

The Haverford College Arboretum hosted a planting event in which community members and local volunteers planted over a dozen different native tree species saplings near the Duck Pond’s stream bank.

There are lots of ways to make a lasting mark at the College. You can start a club, make a financial gift, or propose a Plenary resolution. And on Oct. 7, some students, faculty, staff, and local community members came together to help contribute to its physical endowment.

In order to help rebuild the natural watershed—the ridge that divides flowing water from the land—of the Duck Pond’s stream bank, the Haverford College Arboretum led a team of volunteers in planting dozens of native trees and plants.

“What a wonderful opportunity to leave a lasting legacy at Haverford College.” said Sara Ozawa ’18, one of the student participants.

The College partnered with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society through the TreeVitalize Watersheds Grant Program to restore part of the stream bank. That restoration, which is focused on an area of roughly 150 feet on either side of the stream, includes removing invasive species of plants and trees and replanting hardy, native trees, and plants that thrive in wet environments to ensure the future health of the Duck Pond as well as the Darby Creek watershed.

The seed for this project was planted when current Arboretum Director Claudia Kent and former Director Bill Astifan wrote a grant application for the TreeVitalize Watersheds Grant Program, which is focused on tree planting along stream corridors, headwaters, and stormwater basins in southeastern Pa. (The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is the main source of funding for this grant, in addition to Aqua PA and other partners.)

“The program is part of the Pennsylvania Plant One Million program, whose goal is to plant over one million new trees.” said Daniel Larkins, the new Arboretum program coordinator. “The tree planting date on October 7 was the culmination of the Arboretum’s efforts to not only successfully obtain the grant, but also perform outreach, prepare the site, and research how to best restore it. 78 trees and shrubs—including a variety of dogwoods, oaks, gums, magnolias, sycamores, redbuds, birches, and willows, Virginia sweetspire, inkberry, spicebush, and arrowwood—were planted. The planting occurred in what’s known as a riparian zone. These native plants were chosen because they are known for preventing soil erosion and protecting watersheds. Native plants help boost ecosystem productivity through biodiversity.”

“I love trees!” said Brandon Sickel ’18 during a break from mulching during the volunteer event. “I’m enjoying planting new trees, helping restore this stream bank, and hanging outside, enjoying our campus. Working for the Arboretum is the favorite part of my day.”

“Thanks to great turnout from students and the community, the event was a great success,” said Larkins of the event. “The weather was fine and it was fun to meet so many new people. The Arboretum gets thousands of visitors each year. It is unique in its diverse, growing collection, but also in its free, public accessibility.” (More after the gallery.)

For those that missed the tree planting, fear not, the Arboretum has a packed month ahead.

“In the next 30 days, we are having a pumpkin carving on Oct. 25, a night hike on Oct. 26, and we are starting a Nature Book Club on Nov. 3, which will run the first Friday of every month and will meet at 7 p.m. in the Woodside Cottage Meditation Room. Our first book will be The Hidden Life of Trees,” said Larkins.

He has big plans for Arboretum events beyond the fall, too, including outdoor yoga in the spring, a Tri-Co bike tour, farm-to-table dinners with the Haverfarm, a foraging walk, and a return of the popular garden and tree tours in the spring and summer.

“We will have a busy year full of fun activities for students, faculty, staff, and the community,” said Larkins. “We are going to have plantings and plant sales. We are going to create a Volunteer Trail Crew to help protect our valuable natural resources. We are going to host a ‘Philosophy of the Environmental’ panel discussion in April. We are also hosting an Interfaith Discussion on Sustainability and Climate Change.”

Photos by Sarah Jennings ’21.