Earth Day Clean-up at Bender Melon Farm Kicks Off the Stewardship Season

April 25, 2022

Donuts on the back of the work truck!

I bet you didn’t know that a roadside clean-up smells like fresh apple cider donuts. Well, sometimes with MHLC, they do! We were just that lucky on the brisk but sunny morning of Saturday, April 23.

Our rendezvous spot was set for the parking area in front of the Hilton Barn in New Scotland amongst the construction equipment and debris of the ongoing projects there. As we gathered and milled about talking amongst ourselves, we suddenly beheld the vision of project manager, Erick McCandless, strolling forth and carrying a steaming box five dozen of fresh-off-the-press apple cider donuts, courtesy of Indian Ladder Farms. The heavenly smell wafting across the Capital Region helped the remainder of our workgroup find their way to the parking area. All in all, we amassed an amazing crew of 29 people. Our workday capacity was set at 30, and we had garnered interest well in excess; I’m sorry to all of those who were waitlisted! Trust me when I say we have plenty of opportunities to get out on the land in the near future. Please visit our website’s Volunteer Events page to view and register for the first batch of the summer.

The actual work began with dividing our little army of volunteers into three teams, two would tackle the roadside cleanup from either end of the preserve and Hilton Park, while the other team ventured inward to install a new bike rack and tackle the invasive species growing along David’s Trail. The road crews suited up in high-vis vests, grabbed some homemade trash-picker sticks and garbage bags, and set off. Working across a swath of roughly thirty feet from the road and covering a distance of just under a mile, our team collected quite the mountain of refuse, which was eventually piled in the pull-off area off on Rt. 85A and was later carted off by Town of New Scotland staff.

The third team, led by our own Bob Frederick, lugged in bags of concrete, shovels, and chainsaws to the start of David’s Trail at the preserve's kiosk. They knocked down a couple of hazardous snags, cleared out some old wire fencing, and beautifully installed a new bike rack. Someday we hope to have official biking trails at Bender, but for now, we’re glad to provide Rail-Trail cyclists a place to park their bikes and take a break. A subset of this third team, hoofed it out on the trail a ways further and relieved some of that pent-up winter energy by yanking out barberry and honeysuckle bushes. They were later joined by the remaining road crew members and did a mighty job of knocking back our shrubby foes.

Solidarity and the spirit of Earth Day were on display just down the road as a team led by Marilyn Fancher, rolled in and cleaned up our property at the corner of Fisher Blvd. and New Scotland Road, a spot that desperately needed the attention. Thank you so much, Marilyn and company!!

This was an excellent start to our stewardship season. It was a great chance to socialize a bit and build up a whole lot of momentum for the work to come. The success of the day was measured not just by the size of our garbage pile but also by the fact that only THREE donuts remained at the end of the event. A huge thanks to all our supporters and volunteers and cheers to a great season ahead of us!


Marshall Lefebvre
Stewardship Coordinator