Little Orange Creek Nature Park and Preserve

PLC Partnerships and Updates

Grand Opening of Little Orange Creek Nature Park and Preserve January 22, 2017.

The Mayor, of Hawthorne, Matthew Currency with several dignitaries from local City and County government in attendance outlined the history and significance of the Park and Preserve to the local community. The Grand opening also included the dedication of the Environmental education center in the name of Dr. Kathy Cantwell of the Putnam Land Conservancy.

Little Orange Creek Nature Park and Preserve located 1.9 miles east of US301 on SR20, just east of the Putnam county line. The park entrance is 24115 SE Hawthorne Rd (SR20), Hawthorne, FL. 32640. Parking, Educational Center and short trails are located at the park. Future improvements on the park side slated for spring are; pavilion, outdoor restrooms, volleyball, horseshoes, and playground. The Education and Event Center will be available to rent.

The Preserve is locate to the north side on SR20. An entrance and park- ing area at the trail head is just east ofthe park entrance on the north side. The trail head parking area accommodates a grassed parking area for the trail that leads north for 2.2 miles ofrustic hiking trail. Overlooks and benches along the way give the hiker opportunities to stop and enjoy the flora and fauna that Little Orange Creek Nature Preserve has to offer. Restoration to natural habitat is currently being done on a 20 acre parcel. Long leaf pines will be planted and control burns will be ongoing during the restoration project. Additional trails and overlooks are planned as funds become available.

Earth Skills Weekend at Little Orange Creek Nature Park
PLC conducted its seventh annual Florida Earthskills Gathering at Little Orange Creek Nature Park, Feb. 10-13 in Hawthorne. This year’s event again brought about 800 people from near and far  for this environmental education event. It has become a national event and one of the largest of its kind in the country. The gathering focuses on teaching sustainable and simple living skills, ecology, woods skills and creating meaningful Earth-based community. Rediscovering the sustainable skills of past generations (including the Stone Age) is a large focus of the gathering. There were more than 200 workshops most of which offered “hands-on” instruction.

One important aspect of the Gathering was to be a living example of the skills and ideologies being taught. These were incorporated into the infrastructure and daily life at the gathering. All food was cooked with wood mostly on stoves carved out of the earth, participants were asked to pack out their own waste, all kitchen scrapes were composted, much of the infrastructure utilized natural building techniques using natural materials, and much of the food was from local sources.

Early mornings offered dawn yoga, stretching and birding classes. There were two main workshop sessions during the day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, as well as demonstrations during that time. There were about 75 instructors, many of them experts in their fields, including Green Deane”. The 200 plus workshops included topics for all ages and for a wide variety of interests. A sampling of subjects included ecology, botany, mycology, basket making, organic gardening, herbal medicine, wild edible plants, primitive pottery, bamboo flutes and didgeridos, carving, crochet, food preservation, finger weaving, native nutrition, yoga, bee keeping, tool sharpening, timber framing, Native American style beadwork, elder wisdom, knot tying, massage, fire by friction, tracking, flint knapping and drumming. For a detailed list of the classes taught go to www.floridaearthskills.org/classes/.
This year’s gathering was a great success as it garnered local as well as national attention for PLC and Little Orange Creek Nature Park and provided participants the knowledge and skills to live more harmoniously on the Earth.

Little Orange Creek Nature Park will be closed from spring through early summer as the final stages of environmental/event center renovations get underway.