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Earth Day '08

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By Walt Reichert

There was farm equipment operating on Red Orchard Farm again Monday morning. But the workers were setting not tobacco but 5,000 native Kentucky trees.

"We put them out in rows to make them easier to maintain," said Ben Lyle, with the Kentucky Division of Forestry. The division is partnering with Shelbyville/Shelby County Parks and Recreation to plant the seedlings.

The former Red Orchard Farm, at 704 Kentucky Street, is now Red Orchard Park, a gift Clarence Miller made to the county a little over a year ago. The park will be the site of this year's Earth Day celebration, Saturday, March 29. The event, which will run from 9 a.m. until noon, will include educational booths and activities, music, and games for children.

Parks Director Clay Cottongim, board chair Hubie Pollett and Miller will welcome guests to kick off the activities at 9:15 a.m., followed by an Arbor Day proclamation by county Judge-Executive Rob Rothenburger.

At 10 a.m. visitors will get to plant their own trees on the farm and are encouraged to "bring your own shovel."

Kentucky Blue and Earth Mamas will provide music. Kentucky Blue performs at 9:20 a.m. and Earth Mamas play at 11 a.m. Raptor Rehab will bring live birds of prey for display and local bird expert Horace Brown will answer questions on birds and nests, an event sponsored by Four Seasons Garden Club. Shelby County Cooperative Extension Agent for Horticulture Brett Reese will answer landscaping questions starting at 10:30 a.m.

For kids, there will be a scavenger hunt, a kids' tent, bottle bowling, nature bracelet making, a recycling relay and other activities. Wagon rides around the park begin at 9:30 a.m. and continue every half hour. Visitors who participate in the "Hiking for health" will also have a chance to walk through the parks woods and wildflower meadow.

About two dozen organizations, ranging from the Kentucky Division of Water to the National Wild Turkey Federation, will have booths set up at the Earth Day celebration.

The original Earth Day was celebrated April 2, 1970. The event was conceived to boost awareness and appreciation of the Earth and its environment.

The county's master plan for the 130-acre Red Orchard Park include an educational collection of trees and prairie grass, four-and-a-half miles of trail, interpretive wetlands area, dog parks, orchards and fishing pond.