As the threat of losing what we have come to expect – a habitable earth – Earth Day, which is celebrated worldwide on April 22, has taken on a more significant meaning.
On November 20, 2022, the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27), leaders from around the world gathered to discuss climate change and actions. The UN Secretary-General António Guterres summed up our point in time and said: “We can and must win this battle for our lives.” 
While many events around the world, including Grace Farms, will set a celebratory tone, it’s also an opportunity to appreciate our natural surrounding and learn how to become better stewards of our earth. The theme, “”Invest in Our Planet,” is set by Earthday.org, the global organizer of Earth Day. Over 1 billion citizens are expected to participate in the day, from cleaning our rivers and shorelines to engaging in awe-inspiring nature activities that connect us with our environment. (Featured photo by Dean Kaufman.)
Our CEO and Founder’s Vision
Protecting and restoring the environment has been core to Grace Farms’ mission. Prior to opening in October 2015, our CEO and Founder, Sharon Prince, had the vision to save 80 acres of land that were slated for development in New Canaan, Connecticut. Years then went into restoring the natural environment and its 10 biodiverse habitats, including meadows, woodlands, and ponds.
The on-going restoration, including the installation of thousands of native plants, has brought back over 100 varieties of birds, including the American Kestrel, to Grace Farms, as well as pollinators. The kestrel, North America’s smallest falcon, was listed as threatened on Connecticut’s Endangered, Threatened, and Special Concern Species List. In 2015, it was “down-listed” to special concern.
Restoration and nature-based solutions
Additionally, since 2013, Grace Farms has planted nearly 700 trees in addition to the 1,300 trees already on-site before construction began on the award-wining River building. There are now over 2000 trees, which sequester more than 650,000 lbs. of carbon a year. Carbon dioxide, the most-commonly produced greenhouse gas linked to climate change, is captured by trees. Over the years, the growing body research has shown how trees, particularly forests, are an important part of climate-change solutions. Even cities, such as New York, benefit from greenery or urban forests, according to a recent study by the City University of New York.
In June 2019, Grace Farms, along with other New Canaan organizations including The New Canaan Land Trust, officially launched its own Pollinator Pathway, becoming part of the national Pollinator Pathway movement. The movement encourages the creation of native pollinator friendly habitat corridors on private and public properties to support the bird, bees, butterflies, and other pollinators essential for growing our food. A recent article in The New York Times reiterates their importance. But in at least 12 states, including Arizona and North Carolina, insects such as butterflies and bees aren’t considered wildlife and therefore they aren’t protected as they are in Connecticut and other states.
“Ecologically they are ‘the little things that run the world,’ in the words of the biologist E.O. Wilson.” – The New York Times (You’l find some of E.O. Wilson’s books in our Library.)
These are some of the many accomplishments Grace Farms has achieved over the years with its work, spanning from receiving its second prestigious second LEED Certification in Building Operations and Maintenance (O+M) in 2019 to modeling nature-based solutions to combating forced labor in the built environment with its Design for Freedom movement. As our CEO remarked in a 2019 Perspective on the importance of hopeful spaces, they can be inspirational but space alone can’t drive change. “It takes people who can envision what can be, who can make a commitment, and then vigorously work to accomplish it.”
An invitation to work together
While we invite family and friends from all backgrounds and ages to help us celebrate Grace Farms on April 22, our intention is to also invite visitors to discover and engage in the wonders and joys of nature, with the hope of inspiring how we can work together to project our earth. Year-round we offer ways to engage through our educational programing and public events held throughout the River building and our 80 acres. Our public space is free and open to the public.
Below are highlights for Earth Day 2023:
Seasonal Celebration: Woven Together
Saturday, April 22 | 10 am – 5 pm
Celebrate Earth Day with family-friendly activities for all ages that explore the ongoing conservation of the surrounding 80-acre nature preserve, including the native meadows, forests, and gardens.
Fabrics are this year’s theme! Along with our regular Earth Day programming, we’ll highlight natural fibers and take a closer look at the textile industry’s impact on the environment. Creating fabric from natural fibers is a practice spanning thousands of years. Today, fast fashion encourages consumers to buy a high volume of clothing that lasts a shorter period of time — a practice that can never be truly sustainable.
Yet we are all woven together — and the way we shop can have a positive global impact. From caring for soil and plants to understanding how our role as consumers can benefit the environment, everyone can have a hand in crafting a more sustainable future.
$10 per car | member: free
Earth Day activities include:
Master Birder Frank Mantlik discusses over 100 species of birds that rely on our trees for food, shelter, and nesting.
Come face-to-face with native wildlife and learn about the animals in your backyard.
Meadow, garden, and forest engagements
Encounter our education team and Horticulture Advisor Kim Kelly throughout the landscape to learn more about the many habitats and beneficial insects that surround us.
Learn about fabrics made from regenerative fiber and those working in this essential industry. Local farmers and artisans will give demonstrations including yarn spinning, weaving, and creating natural dyes using plant- based pigment.
Open Arts Studio | Learning from the landscape
Inspired by the black locust grove, the Arts Initiative invites children with adult caregivers to weave recycled yarn through the trees, encouraging participants to consider the interrelatedness of life.
Reflections on a flourishing life
In Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Wall Kimmerer knits together scientific and Indigenous perspectives and offers poetic reflections on reciprocity, relationships, and responsibility. Join our Faith Initiative in conversation and a close reading of these essays.
Other related nature programs:
Spring Astronomy with the Treworgy Planetarium
Wednesday, April 12 | 7:30 – 9 pm
Space lovers of all ages are invited to observe and learn about the night sky over Grace Farms with the guidance of educators from the Treworgy Planetarium at Mystic Seaport Museum. Take turns looking at the sky through the planetarium’s Celestron 6″ automated reflecting telescope and work with a sextant to learn how mariners navigate by the stars.
$15 | member: $12 | children: $7
Gardener-to-Chef’s Table: Spring Community Dinner
Friday, April 28 | 6 – 7:30 pm
Gather around the community table with friends, family, and neighbors, and experience a true garden-to-table meal highlighting seasonal produce from our Community Garden. Master Gardener Lauren Elliott provides insights on cultivating nutritious, local, and well-rounded plates, while Director of Culinary Operations Neena Perez crafts an impeccable meal showcasing fresh seasonal flavors.
$30 | member: $24
About Grace Farms
Grace Farms is a center for culture and collaboration in New Canaan, Connecticut. We bring together people across sectors to explore nature, arts, justice, community, and faith at the SANAA-designed River building on 80 acres of publicly accessible, preserved natural landscape. Our humanitarian work to end modern slavery and foster more grace and peace in our local and global community includes leading the Design for Freedom movement to eliminate forced labor in building materials supply chain.
Become a member
Grace Farms members enjoy special access to member-only events, experiential activities, and thought-provoking programs — and the opportunity to be a part of our mission to pursue a more peaceful world.
Learn more at gracefarms.org/membership
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Other related blogs worth reading:
President’s Perspective | Sharon Prince Talks About Hopeful Space
Grace Farms | Discover the Magic of Birds This Summer
Earth Day | The Wonder of Trees
Restoring Wild | Why Pollinators Matter
Summer Birdwatching in Connecticut | A Conversation With Master Birder Frank Mantlik
Opening Up to a World of Trees by Saving an Ash Tree | Grace Farms
 UN, Climate Action, COP27
 Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection, American Kestrel
 Choi-Schagrin, Winston, “How New York City’s Trees and Shrubs Help Clear Its Air,” The New York Times. January 19, 2023.