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Gardening & More: Fun activities will get local residents outdoors, during the winter

COLD TIMES — If there is nothing to do in your garden right now, find other things to do outside in the winter. On Jan. 18, the Buffalo Audubon Society will hold a walk at Knox Farm State Park in East Aurora, shown here. On the same day, a hike will be held in Zoar Valley. Meet at the Tops Friendly Markets in Springville, to carpool. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko.
HAMBURG — When you are in your garden picking tomatoes, pulling weeds and planting flowers, you like being outdoors. Even if you can’t do much of that right now, there is no excuse to sit indoors.

The Buffalo Audubon Society has many fun events to get you outdoors, and you do not have to be a bird watcher to enjoy them. Two interesting activities will be held on Saturday, Jan. 18: a walk in Knox Farm State Park in East Aurora and a hike in Zoar Valley.

The walk, “Tracking Wildlife,” will be held from 9 – 10 a.m. on Jan. 18 at Knox Farm State Park, located at 437 Buffalo Road in East Aurora. Test your observation skills by looking for signs of the creatures that call Knox Farm their home. Meet in the parking lot. Donations will be accepted.

The hike in Zoar Valley will take place from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. To carpool, meet at 9 a.m. in the parking lot of Tops Friendly Markets, located at 184 S. Cascade Drive in Springville.

The hike will be led by naturalist Mark Carra. The amazing beauty and fascinating history of Zoar Valley, coupled with our Western New York winter, should make for a fun excursion. This event is dependent on the weather. The cost is $5 for the public and $3 members for members of the Buffalo Audubon Society. Call 585-457-3228, to reserve your spot.

I recently went on a snowy walk, sponsored by the group at Knox Farm State Park. It was low-key; you did not have to be an athlete to take part.

The Buffalo Audubon Society folks had great stories to tell about nature and about the history of the park which, at one time, was a working farm owned by the Knox family.

One gardening-related story: A tower near the greenhouse was used to house pigeons, according to volunteer naturalist Walt Witmer. The pigeon droppings were used in the greenhouse, as fertilizer.

You can also just walk around Knox Farm State Park on your own. It looks beautiful in the snow. Pick up a map of the trails in the visitor center, the building marked by a sign that says “milk house.”

Walk dogs on a leash along the trails, or let them run free in the fenced-in dog area. Cross-country skiing and horseback riding are also allowed on the trails, but you must bring your own skis or horse.

The Buffalo Audubon Society operates the Beaver Meadow Audubon Center at 1610 Welch Road in North Java; you should really check it out. Even when the location does not have special events scheduled, you can hike, cross-country ski or snowshoe on the trails. Snowshoes may be rented for $5 per day.

I went snowshoeing there with my family, at the beginning of January. It was a snowy and windy day and if our daughter and son-in-law weren’t visiting from out of town, we probably would have stayed inside.

I am so glad we went. The wind was nippy when we were on the open fields, but we were dressed appropriately, so it was thrilling to be outside, during the heavy snowfall.

The wooded areas were quiet and peaceful. I had to remind my family members that it was nice to keep up a brisk pace and get some exercise, but it was also good to pause now and then, to listen to the silence.

When we were done snowshoeing, we relaxed inside the center with hot chocolate. The large picture windows on the second floor gave us a lovely view.

For more information about the upcoming events, to find out about other events or to check on the conditions for snowshoeing at Beaver Meadow, visit or call 585-457-3228.

Try out a couple of the Buffalo Audubon Society’s activities and have some fun outside, during the winter.

Connie Oswald Stofko is the publisher of, the online gardening magazine for Western New York. Email

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2014-01-17 | 15:21:57
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