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Eden Mill hosts a chilly Fall Fest

Fallen leaves, babbling water and a crisp breeze - Eden Mill Nature Center was the perfect setting for Saturday's Fall Fest.

The historic mill hosted the annual event for kids and adults alike, inviting people to partake in a scavenger hunt, watch how honey is extracted and make birdseed from grinding corn.

A live band played a variety of tunes as parents and their children went from station to station, learning about the center and nature around them.

Phyllis Donnelly sat at a picnic table with her three grown daughters as she listened to her husband's band.

"It's a neat place," she said. "I love the waterfall."

Donnelly, who lives in Street, brought her 16-month-old granddaughter along for the day.

Donnelly explained she had only recently been to Eden Mill for the first time to go bird banding and wanted to come back for the festival.

"What a wonderful place,' she said.

Up the hill near a trail was Bel Air resident Michelle Mutombo with 14-month-old Rocco, who was munching away on some snacks.

"I brought my daughter's Girl Scout troop," she said. "Something fun to do for the day."

It was also her first time at the nature center.

"They love the scavenger hunt," Mutombo said about her daughter and her troop. "It's so much fun."

She said Eden Mill is "a great place for kids to learn about nature" and was happy to bring her children there.

Kids really did seem to love exploring all around.

The corn grinder, which was operated with a hand crank, fascinated some, and others posed for pictures with stuffed bears that were dressed for Halloween.

A small group was gathered around an indoor water feature where a turtle was perched on some rocks.

A man from Phoenix Wildlife Center taught people about the great horned owl on his harm - one of the largest owls in Maryland, he said.

Beverly Burton, of Glen Arm, watched a beeswax demonstration inside the old mill.

Her daughter volunteers at Eden Mill and Burton frequently helps out. She recently donated several pumpkins and gourds form her farm for the pumpkin chunkin' they would do later in the day.

"It's nice to see the children come and learn," Burton, who brought her grandchildren along, said. "I came last year, it was a little warmer then and there was a lot of people."

Burton expected the crowd to get even larger as the day went on.

Jim Zink, a beekeeper at Eden Mill, entertained and informed people with his beeswax demonstration and honey extraction.

He made dip candles, how candles were made without molds, and showed how people get honey from the comb to the jar.

"You cut the wax caps off, which kind of seals it in," he explained, showing off the large barrel where two large honeycombs sat upright.

Zink explained that everything was done by hand by using centrifugal force and spinning the honey free form the waxy comb, dripping done the barrel, out a spout at the bottom and through two strainers into a bucket.

"Honey is the only food that will not spoil," he said, citing how Egyptian pharaohs were buried with honey thousands of years ago and it's still good today.

Eden Mill is the home of two beehives and Zink helps take care of them with another volunteer.

"It's a wonderful place," he said. "It soaks you in."

The best part of the job, Zink said, is showing kids how nature works.

Exposing them to all the wonders in here in northern Harford County, he said, "it makes it all worthwhile."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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