Let me take you down, ’cause I’m going to Strawberry Fields

The ribbon cutting ceremony at Strawberry Fields Nature Preserve

As you wind your way up the steep, paved drive to Strawberry Fields Nature Preserve, you will be welcomed by a series of signs featuring the lyrics to The Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields Forever,” a song which continues to evoke a mellow, other-worldly feeling fifty years after its original release in 1967.

The lyric signs, dappled by morning sunlight and framed by the emerald green of maple leaves in spring, set the stage for the grand opening of our Strawberry Fields Nature Preserve last Saturday, May 20. Over 150 guests drove to Cranes Hollow Road in Amsterdam to celebrate the opening of this 118 acre property to the public.

MHLC Board Member Claiborne Walthall and daughter Anna enjoy hiking at the grand opening

Visitors mingled and enjoyed coffee, pastries, fruit, and granola. Maple syrup, which was harvested and processed on the property by landowner Jeff Leon, was for sale, with all proceeds going to MHLC to directly support the preservation of Wolf Hollow in Amsterdam.

MHLC Executive Director Mark King, welcomed the crowd in a sunny field, a strong breeze cooling the air. “Thank you for joining us for the opening of our newest preserve,” said King. “We are proud to be working with landowners in Montgomery County to continue to protect the open spaces which make this area so beautiful, and to create preserves for the public to enjoy.”

Jeff Leon, owner and steward of the preserve, spoke of his work with MHLC to protect this property in 2013 under a conservation easement. He named the property “Strawberry Fields” because of the many wild strawberries found in the open fields and along the trails. As guests leave the property, they see the lyrics to John Lennon’s “Imagine” printed on the back of the driveway signs. Leon explained that he chose the lyrics to “Imagine” because of the unifying message of the song. “I may be a dreamer,” Leon remarked, “but I’m not the only one…For nearly 50 years, Strawberry Fields has given me so many opportunities to learn about, and appreciate, the breadth of life. By opening our nature trails to the public, I hope many more people will take the same opportunities to more deeply realize how much human existence depends on nature, and why overexploitation of nature threatens that existence. Deeper appreciation of nature’s essential assistance can lead us to living in a sustainable manner.”

After the remarks from King and Leon, the official opening ceremony concluded with Leon cutting a large ribbon, assisted by his grandchildren. The ceremony was followed by a series of guided tours on the preserve’s trails. The crowd split into smaller hiking parties, trekking across open fields to explore the features of the red and yellow trails: views over the Mohawk River Valley, hemlock forests, a sinkhole, excellent birding areas by a large pond, and the fields and successional forests in which over 300 vascular plant species have been identified by botanists.


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