22 April 2010

Earth Day - Today Is the 40th

Our veggie garden is 20 by 20 - on the left are the peas on a trellis, then leeks, wax bush beans, Dinosour kale, Cos and Romaine lettuce, broccoli and Brussels sprouts, broad beans on the far right and potato cages in the back.

Earth Day is celebrating its 40Th birthday today. Denis Hayes, national coordinator for the first Earth Day in 1970 is the international chair of Earth Day 2010. Hayes is chairman of the board of trustees of the American Solar Energy Society and president of the Bullitt Foundation.

Twenty million Americans participated in that original Earth Day celebration. Within three years Congress passed the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act.

Today, most schools and many towns acknowledge Earth Day through activities meant to remind us that caring for the earth’s resources is important.

Small conservation activities include recycling paper, glass, cooking oil, plastic containers and plastic bags. Groups can participate in tree planting projects or pick up aluminum cans along our streets and recycle them.

Easy everyday efforts make a difference. Turn off the water while you brush your teeth and turn off lights as you leave a room. With a little more thought you can combine errands to save fuel.

Another idea is to buy locally produced food whenever possible. It takes less fuel to transport food from regional producers to your table.

Locally grown chickens are available at Central Meat Market and local eggs, beef, pork, and lamb are sold at the Muskogee Farmer's Market. Fruits, herbs and vegetables are sold at several area farmers’ markets, plus Reasors, Arnolds and at seasonal stands that pop up in the summer.

Muskogee Wellness Committee has sponsored two gardening events to support and educate local residents in the art and science of growing a little of their own food in a home garden or in containers.

To promote gardening on a slightly larger scale, the Wellness Committee put on a community gardening event last year.

Community gardening can be summarized as healthier people growing healthier food in healthier neighborhoods.

Families who garden together have an exercise based activity that produces fresh fruits and vegetables to build their health, and increase their food security.

Community gardens strengthen community bonds, and create a positive, recreational space for neighbors to get together. Neighborhoods become safer and community gardens increase the value of homes in the immediate area.

Children learn about science, math and the environment from family and friends when they are engaged with others in a garden. They learn job skills and increase their community connections. Similar programs report that participating students improve their school attendance.

In Muskogee, on Tuesday, April 27 from 5:30 to 6:30 there will be a community garden meeting at the Parks and Recreation Dept. especially for people who live in the area of Spaulding Park.

The section of Spaulding Park where the old greenhouses stood is going to be developed into community garden plots for the use of the residents of the area. Paths and raised bed growing plots will be laid out before the planting begins.

The April 27 meeting will be held to discuss how the Spaulding Park Community Garden will operate, discuss the ground rules, and to find out how many might be interested in participating.

The plots will not be reserved only for those in the immediate area, but gardeners who live within a short distance are more likely to remain enthusiastic about weeding, watering and harvesting over the summer.

Doug Walton, Community Foods Coordinator with the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture, and manager of Muskogee Farmer’s Market, will help facilitate the discussion. Walton has a wealth of information about community gardens around the state.

If you live in the Spaulding Park area and have an interest in the community garden effort, please call the Parks Department, 684-6302, and let them know you would like to attend the meeting.

Spaulding Park Community Garden Planning Meeting
Tuesday April 27, 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Parks and Recreation Dept., 837 East Okmulgee
Please call 684-6302 to let them know you are coming so there will be chairs and snacks for all.

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