Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Tree Adventure at Arbor Day Farm

My extended family is fantastic at keeping secrets. They have lived in Nebraska City, NE since the 1870s. Since that time, there have been a multitude of events that could cause hushed conversations at family gatherings.

Since I've been going to Nebraska City, no one had shared information with me about the Arbor Day Farm, which is part of the Arbor Lodge State Historical Park and Arboretum, until about 8 years ago. My husband and I decided to take a peek at the farm when we stayed at the Lied Lodge and Conference Center while visiting family.

We headed out to the Tree Adventure. It was just a short walk from the lodge. It boasts an educational walk amongst the trees. It offers so much more. My husband and I enjoyed our time there so much, that this year during the Thanksgiving break, even in the cold, I wanted to make sure and take my four-year-old son on the short walking tour to introduce him to some of my favorite things in life, trees.

My husband could not make the trip, but Grandpa stepped in to join us. Grandpa had never known about the Arbor Day Farm either (despite the get away car breaking down within an eighth of mile of the entrance when he and my mom were eloping.) The Arbor Day Farm was the original estate of J. Sterling Morton. The farm is approximately 260 acres in size. The educational sections just inside the entrance include an animal footprint path, the Nut Tree Arboretum, nature focused classrooms, and the Canopy Tree House, a 50ft high tree house overlooking the forest canopy.

My father and son enjoyed walking from trees to educational signs, to footprints on the path, climbing the tree house, and playing with the interactive displays. This adventure is well thought out, well taken care of, and thoroughly exhausting for both the young and old.  Translation: if you need to 'encourage' nap time near Nebraska City, you couldn't do much better than Arbor Lodge and the Arbor Day Farm.

The Tree Adventure is just a small part of the entire Farm. Some of the things you can see include a large orchard, windbreak demonstrations, stream bed stabilization, a parking lot runoff filtration system, and a long nature walk.

One of the best kept secrets here is found in the Preservation Orchard. It features 180 antique apple trees representing 165 different apple varieties! They use this orchard as a genetic collection of some of the finest known and best tasting apples of very old varieties. Many of the varieties are no longer available commercially.

I think this is a fabulous visit for people of any age or ability.

So that's one of my family's little secrets exposed.  You'll have to be an insider to hear the others.

Learn more about:
Arbor Lodge State Historical Park
Nebraska City, Nebraska
Arbor Lodge State Historical Park and Arboretum

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