Earth Day in the Sonoma Valley

Spring holidays are as old as the harvest, and many of them have become so deeply baked into the season we barely recognize their pre-historic roots. Not so Earth Day, Saturday, April 22: This conscious celebration of the Earth was first established in 1970 by Sen. Gaylord Nelson (D-Wisc.), and is now thought to be the biggest secular holiday in the world.

“Remembering how desperate we were just a few months ago during the drought, it’s a decent reminder to stop and think about the fragile relationship people have with nature,” said Richard Dale, executive director of Sonoma Ecology Center. “Earth Day is a great time to consider the natural world, to give back where you can, and to celebrate the great fortune we have to live in such a beautiful, inspiring place.”

Or, as 1st District Supervisor Susan Gorin said, “Go take a hike! There’s no excuse to stay inside and not appreciate the magnificent place where we live.”

At Bouverie Preserve in Glen Ellen, they’re taking that advice with hikes every hour from 9:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m., exploring the “hills, habitats and hidden treasures” of the 535-acre landscape. Only caveat is that minors under 18 must be accompanied by an adult, but everyone can dive into the activates at Gilman Hall, the preserve’s visitors center.

Bouverie is located at 13935 Sonoma Highway 12, Glen Ellen, and though admission is usually be appointment only, they make an exception during this Earth Day Open House, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Go to egret.org/visit_bouverie for information, or call 415-868-9244.

They’re also noting Earth Day at Quarryhill Botanical Garden just up the highway. In fact tree-huggers can do both: the 10th annual celebration at Quarryhill runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and includes family activities such as a nature scavenger hunt, arts and crafts, live animal viewing and everything else from succulents to bees, rare gems to a bat display.

The day is also the occasion of their annual Plant Sale, and since Quarryhill – which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year – is an internationally recognized botanical garden, it could be a perfect opportunity to pick up Asian flora for local gardeners.

The Happy Earth Day celebration at Quarryhill is free, but there is a $10 parking charge, per vehicle – which is an implicit endorsement of ride-sharing. Quarryhill Botanical Garden is located at 12841 Sonoma Highway, Glen Ellen. For more information, go to quarryhillbg.org or call 996-3166.

Several regional parks also have programs planned to celebrate the earth. At Jack London State Historic Park their unusual two-day Backpacking on Sonoma Mountain hike was supposed to get underway on Saturday, April 22, at neighboring North Sonoma Mountain Regional Park with a 9-mile traverse of Sonoma Mountain. Unfortunately this event has been cancelled. For more information, visit parks.sonomacounty.ca.gov.

Closer to home, families can enjoy the true purpose of Earth Day activates with trail clean-up and other volunteer activities at Maxwell Farms Regional Park in Sonoma. Just show up at 9 a.m., ready to help remove trash and invasive plants from Sonoma Creek’s brief passage through the park.

Regional Parks provides tools, gloves, drinks and snacks; volunteers between the ages of 14 and 17 need a parental permission slip, younger volunteers must be accompanied by an adult. Here’s another bonus: Parking is free at Maxell Farms for participating volunteers, others must come up with the $7 parking fee.

There are also volunteer work days at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park and the Nathanson Creek Preserve in the City of Sonoma, both run by the Sonoma Ecology Center, both from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sign up on the website at sonomaecologycenter.org.

Other Earth Day events in the area include a harvest celebration of sorts at Gloria Ferrer, their Bubbles and Blooms Festival with workshops on floral design and arrangement, head wreaths, even building a wall of flowers – plus sparkling wine and food pairings, of course. It’s from noon to 4 p.m. at Gloria Ferrer, 23555 Highway 121, Sonoma; cost is $65, less for members.

Here in town, Sweetwater Spectrum is holding an open house for their Sonoma Farm, with activities starting at 8:30 a.m. with a community work party and continuing until 1 p.m. with a Qi Gong class for beginniners, spring planting tips and a teepee dedication and drum circle. There’ll be a food truck and other activites too, It’s kid-friendly, of course, and free. Sweetwater is at 369 5th St. West, Sonoma.

The Earth Care Festival will include information booths, films, discussion and community action groups, a farmer’s market, activities for children, music, and more. It’s from noon to 3 p.m. at Burlingame Hall, First Congregational Church, 252 W Spain St., Sonoma.

Earth Day comes to an end with sunset, at 7:53 p.m., but that’s when the Star Party at Sugarloaf’s Robert Ferguson Observatory is just getting started. The popular monthly dark-night event lets visitors check out the observatory’s three telescopes and several smaller ones, brought to the event by docents or amateur astronomers.