The Recorder – ‘We gather to plant hope’: Inaugural Earth Day celebration held at Energy Park

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Published: 4/22/2022 7:23:16 PM

Modified: 4/22/2022 7:22:00 PM

GREENFIELD — Dozens gathered at Energy Park Friday afternoon to celebrate the return of spring as the Interfaith Council of Franklin County hosted its inaugural Earth Day celebration.

Folks were treated to traditional English spring ritual dances from the Juggler Meadow and Wake Robin Morris dancers as vendors that were spread throughout the park showed off their sustainability practices and offered tips to passersby.

“I’m delighted to see people out to celebrate spring,” said Andrew Mangold, who was offering fruit plants from his Shelburne business, World Repair Nursery. He added that he had a blast dancing with the Morris dancers as he “got a tiny taste of the tradition.”

Helaina Balcanoff and the Greenfield Tree Committee set up a table at the event to promote the planting of trees in the community. They planted several throughout the day on Friday.

“Trees provide oxygen and if they’re native trees, they provide a lot of habitat,” Balcanoff said, adding that an abundance of trees provides shaded areas over sidewalks and promotes mental health.

After the ceremony, the group congregated around the back end of the park to plant two linden trees. Children shoveled dirt around the trees’ roots and watered the fledgling plants.

Several speakers from local companies and nonprofits spoke during the program, including Franklin Land Trust Executive Director Tom Curren and the CEO and President of Co-op Power Lynn Benander.

Benander emphasized the “innovation” of Franklin County’s residents and how they set an example around the world. She highlighted the abundance of farm and food co-ops around the region, which she noted are not available in many other areas around the country.

“Without the innovation here, without the support, without the willingness to try, so much would not have happened in Franklin County,” she said. “The world is not the same because of all the things that we have done together.”

The ceremony closed out with David Arfa, one of the event’s organizers, delivering an Earth Day proclamation.

“We gather as fields ripen, reviving seeds. We gather to remember our love for each other, how we are nurtured by the land we call home,” Arfa said. “We gather to invoke the future that we desire. We gather to plant hope.”

Arfa closed out his speech emphasizing that it is time to take action against climate change to ensure a future for future generations.

“Our children, they openly share their anxieties and fears about climate, poverty, racism, extinction. They wonder why our shared life is like this. We must listen, we must respond,” Arfa said. “If not now, when? If not us, who? And if not here, where?”

Chris Larabee can be reached at or 413-930-4081.

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