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Elachee visitors dig into Earth Day by growing, buying plants
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Allison Bailey pulls a cart of plants her family bought at the plant sale Saturday at Elachee Nature Science Center in Gainesville. - photo by HAILEY VAN PARYS

Earth Day was celebrated with flying colors at Elachee Nature Science Center in Gainesville as three groups showed up on a sunny Saturday to offer their elbow grease and get their hands dirty in the soil.

One group was made of Girl Scouts, another of American Heritage Girls from Sugar Hill and another from the University of North Georgia. The UNG students were there to fulfill community service hours for their environmental science class.

“It’s a requirement for the class,” Kennedy Salters said.

The class’ professor Margi Flood requires each student to complete at least 7½ hours for full credit, or up to 10 for extra credit. Though they were there for a class, most students seemed happy to get their gloves into plants and get started.

Terri Andrews supervised them, throwing out information about the type of soil they were working with and why they were doing what they were doing.

Each student was given an area and a plant to put into the ground. Once they successfully placed their plant, they raked over the area.

“You don’t want mulch piled high because it suffocates the roots,” Andrews said.

Next, the students watered their plants. All of the water that was used in the garden was gathered from the center’s own cistern filled with rainwater.

The garden they were working in was a pollinator garden.

“You can just sit here and watch (the pollinators) work,” Andrews said.

The students also made time to help in other areas of the center. Earth Day was also a good time for the tools to be filed, honed and grinded. The center regularly uses axes, hoes and shovels and other devices in their work, tools that need to be regularly sharpened.

A group of volunteers met up in the Geiger pavilion to sharpen the implements used to build and maintain trails at Elachee.

“It looked really cool,” UNG student Leslie Fruche said.

The nature center also held a spring plant sale in the parking lot. It started earlier than the volunteer work, with most people arriving by 9 a.m. and picking out the best plants to take home.

“It’s almost like Black Friday,” said Julie Evans, partner at The Fockele Garden Co..

Most plants went for less than $20, with some selling for as low as $2, depending on the species of the plant and its size.

Plants like wisterias, two kinds of roses, at least six types of fern and three kinds of azaleas were sold.

Allison Bailey came specifically to search for one plant that she had her eye on: an oakleaf hydrangea.

She got some, and brought along her daughter to help her lug it back to their car.

“We love coming,” said Bailey, who is on the advisory board for the center. “They have great events for the kids.”

The Baileys are members of Elachee and residents of Chicopee.

Regional events