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Happy Earth Day: To celebrate, go local this summer.

Earth Day, April 22, 2010, is the 40th year anniversary of the day set aside for reflection and active engagement for the benefit of our planet.  It’s not just for environmentalists.  Each and every one of us can do a small part to ensure that the world we leave to our children is one where they and their families can thrive and prosper.  One of the core issues for Earth Day advocates is in the area of food and agriculture.

It is important that humans begin supporting organic or small farms, local production and sustainable techniques while harvesting increased yields and protecting the topsoil. The time for action is now, before the world’s rich farmland washes into the sea, and before chemical pesticides and fertilizers cause any more harm to our drinking water and our oceans.

“Going Local” is a great way to promote sustainable agriculture and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is one of the ways people are accomplishing that goal.  CSAs are now available and accessible throughout the country.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a system in which consumers pay a farmer in advance for agricultural products. CSAs help local farmers connect directly with the consumer and offer a variety of in-season vegetables and fruits. Some also offer eggs, meat, poultry, baked goods,and honey.

This year I’ve joined my local CSA.  For a reasonable fee (about $12.00 / week), I’ll receive a large box of fresh organic veggies and fruits each week from May through November.  In addition, my CSA allows its members to visit the farm and pick fresh herbs and strawberries.  So, I’ll be getting my fresh fruit and vegetable assortment, plus fresh hand-picked herbs and strawberries, along with my own personal garden bounty where I’ll be growing tomatoes, zucchini, and basil.

Not only is the increased consumption of fresh vegetables and fruits a way to reduce your carbon footprint as a human being by reducing consumption of processed foods, foreign-sourced agriculture, and factory-farm offerings, but the local community structure and organic farming processes reduces the amount of pesticides and/or other chemicals that will end up in our water systems through run-off.

By “going local” this year, I’ll not only save money, I’ll be helping to save the Earth.  CSAs are becoming commonplace in every community.  You can find several at this link: HERE; or for a comprehensive list of sustainable agriculture sources throughout the coutnry, including CSAs, check out Local Harvest.

Please share your tips, links, comments, stories, or suggestions for Earth Day Everyday activities.

54 Responses

  1. Earth Day tip: When recycling your plastic bottles, make sure to remove the caps. Many jurisdictions will simply discard bottles with caps in tact because the cost of removing them is greater than the economic benefit of recycling the bottle.

    Uncap first!

    And some people are opting for Community Gardens — http://www.communitygarden.org/about-acga/

    • We have mandatory recycling here in NJ and I always remove the caps of bottles and jars. It says to do so in the recycling instructions my township sends out every year, but a lot of people don’t know to do that. They apparently do not read the instructions.

      • I know. Whenever I see them in the recycling bins at the office I uncap them and let people know.

    • Happy Earth Day from Louisiana and our sinking coastline!! 11 people are presumed dead down here from that oil rig explosion and it’s now sunk to the bottom of the Gulf where it is expected to be spewing crap and likely to create one of the worst oil spills in history. It was doing some rather experimental drilling (horizontal) and guess what!!! Our democratic president with his democratic majority have just okay’d doing more of this. I’d see we’ve been okee doked down here in the Gulf!!!! Send us Dawn!!! Our birds will need it and hope you don’t like any of our seafood! Who knows what ship it will be in ? And, wow, how you don’t miss those cruises either!!!!

      Again, Happy Earth Day!

      • Yikes! There was a story in the Economist (I believe that was the publication) a while back about drilling and I saw how much longer, wider, and faster the drills they are using are. They’re going to crack our Earth right in half.

  2. Eat Local on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/eatlocalchallenge

  3. Stop buying bottled water.

  4. Get into native plant gardening. It’s a joy.

  5. I’ve always wanted to compost but never got around to it. Anyone ever do that?

    • We started one in the backyard. Hard keeping the critters away. Helps to have a fence or use a covered bin.

    • I’d love to, but have a tiny lot and am concerned the stink will drift where it ain’t wanted. Also concerned my dog would destroy it and probably end up sick, she eats anything and everything.

      • In the garden we have containers with metal mesh – that is rat resistant.

      • Compost usually doesn’t stink. You can cover up any stinky food material with some grass clippings or shredded paper or newspaper, or a layer of dirt, until the compost process moves along.

        You could also try a worm bin, but the one I tried was a pain and didn’t allow much food waste disposal compared to even a small compost bin.

    • We do compost in our community garden. I only rarely contribute – when I make fruit salad or soup. But I am one of the biggest compost users in the garden

    • I grew up composting. It’s incredibly simple. We lived in the country and we had two areas where we simply dumped the kitchen compost pail full of vegetable trimmings, coffee grounds, etc., along with grass clippings, horse manure (we had horses) and even weeds. This were large piles ’cause we had the space, and you could see steam coming off the compost piles even in winter. I’d dig into them for worms to go fishing with.

      I don’t recommend composting weeds unless you have a big pile to cook the weed seeds. And now living in the city it’s not quite as easy in a smaller space. One of those compost tumbler-type gadgets is handy and keeps composting material confined.

      • ok…consider me convinced. I’m gonna give it a try. How long is it, between adding to the pile and having compost for your garden?

        • Anywhere from 3-4 months to longer, depending on the mixture and how often you turn over the contents. A compost-tumbler bin keeps the contents enclosed, therefor warmer and it’s easier to turn or tumble the bin. A simple pile takes 2 to 3 X longer, usually because most of us won’t be forking over and mixing up the contents as often as necessary for the fastest compost!

          If you keep adding fresh stuff to your compost container, it’s never able to age properly. If possible, having 2 piles or bins lets you get usable compost out of the older one, while starting another to put fresh mixings into.

        • make sure you keep out stuff like peanut shells (never decomposes), bones, meat, hair – check a list of dos and don’t.
          Shredded paper, wood chips, soil are needed to keep humidity low.

          • Grass clippings and/or mulched leaves fill the bill for “brown” material also.

            Do not put milk products in either.

          • thanks for all the tips….. it’s been in the back of my mind for a while now so i’m excited to give it a try.

      • That’s how we compost in the back corner of our little city lot. I’ll even pitch weeds there before they go to seed.

    • I use an enclosed compost bin I bought several years ago. Never caught a bad smell no matter which way the wind blows, however, I haven’t made any useable compost yet. Hmmm. My composting guru friend tells me I have to add dried matter, straw, leaves, etc. and a little dirt or manure doesn’t hurt either. I’m too lazy. The bin works as disposal for organic veg scraps just fine. I can fill it to the brim and it sinks quickly, making room for more stuff. Due to my laziness, I buy local chicken manure and yard debris compost for my yard and garden. I’m just happy to not be tossing my veggie debris into the garbage can. Totally unnecessary.

    • My mom has done it for years.

    • Our local PA Cooperative Extension periodically holds a workshop on composting. You need to sign up. When the session is completed, you receive a free dome shaped plastic composter. It’s not the turning kind so it’s a slow process. I’m a better composter than a gardener, and I still use all of the “black gold” that I can produce.

  6. Great link, SOD. Try USDA plants database too. The gov’t does get some things right.

  7. Our local Farmer’s Market accepts Food Stamps.

    I wonder if CSAs do as well?

    • Hmmmm….don’t know. But I guess people could contact their local farm and check.

    • Some do, some don’t. It depends on the state and the locality and the CSA. We thought about accepting them, but frankly it’s too much trouble at this time. WHen we grow the CSA, if we grow it, we will.

      On the other hand, we’ll likely accept labor in lieu of pay before we accept food stamps.

  8. off topic but was wondering if anyone at TC caught this breaking news story. Obama and team’s fingerprints all over the Blago scandal in docs where the redacted info wasn’t redacted because of a glitch:

    http://realclearpolitics.blogs.time.com/2010/04/22/blagos-six-secrets-revealed/

    http://www.mediaite.com/online/mediaite-exclusive-censored-portions-of-blago-subpoena-may-implicate-team-obama/

  9. I recently watched “No Impact Man” and it inspired me to cut back on electricity. I’m striving to turn off all electric power, except my kitchen breakers, on Sunday. I’m still in the err…planning…stage, yea …..that’s it. But I think I can do it, especially with the days getting longer.

    Regarding an earlier comment…. I actually have a nice potted vegetable garden so soon, I’ll have some live greens to eat….just gotten lazy with the food prep lately.

    No Impact Man: The Documentary
    2009 NR 90 minutes

    A Fifth Avenue family goes very green when writer Colin Beavan leads his wife, Michelle Conlin, and their baby daughter on a yearlong crusade to make no net impact on the environment in this engaging documentary. Among their activities: eating only locally grown organic food, generating no trash except for compost and using no carbon-fueled transportation. Laura Gabbert and Justin Schein’s film premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival.

    • We’ve had to really cut back on electricity use since they lifted the caps on the utility. Our bills tripled in one month. It’s ridiculous. They even eliminated peak and non-peak hour rates, charging the higher rate for ALL hours now. We’ll be spending a lot more time with lights out.

      • Tripled….that’s quite harsh! I live in the Northwest and we have relatively cheap electricity due to Bonneville power/hyrdo.

        The good news is… candlelight is lovely…

  10. Happy Earth Day! Here’s video of Bill Clinton from today:

    http://www.clintonfoundation.org/earthday/participateintheforum.php

  11. Let’s see: I don’t have a car, use common transportation – rarely, mostly walk. I garden – grow some of my own food. Another part I pick (mushrooms, herbs, fruit) in parks and woods. I buy in farmer markets, compost, don’t buy bottled water – I use a filter.
    Somehow I think it’s easier for a city dweller to leave a smaller print.

    • I’m in the country – kind of. Used to be country, but now it’s more of a suburb. Anyway, I grow veggies, buy local produce, and drive my car once or twice a week to town – for fine boxed Merlot and other necessities. However, when I find a job, I won’t be able to be as conscientious. I’ll be commuting every day and won’t have as much time to devote to the garden. Urban dwelling is superior in that regard.

      • I find that there’s just not a walking or biking infrastructure in the suburbs and rural areas. Distance-wise, it’s possible to walk from outlying areas to the downtown or to the commuter rail station or whatever, but logistically, there’s no way to go without crossing a major highway or being on a busy street with no sidewalks wading through brush up to your neck on the shoulder. It’s all so poorly planned it would take a lot of $ and be a major project to make it accessible. There are actually more bike paths and walking paths in the city and close suburbs, which are already completely accessible anyway, than in the inaccessible outer areas.

        • So true. I could walk to my local convenience store any time, but it would be a headache. I’d probably get mowed down by a speeding pick-up truck. My friend is trying to encourage me to move into town. I’m so stubborn about it. I tried to escape the ratscape ages ago and just can’t seem to give up the dream of country riches and independence.

        • Seriously wrote:

          It’s all so poorly planned it would take a lot of $ and be a major project to make it accessible.

          Hmmmm….sounds like something Roosevelt could have addressed by providing government jobs to improve infrastructure. Too bad we elected Hoover instead.

  12. off topic:
    SEC staffers watched porn as economy crashed

    Senior staffers at the Securities and Exchange Commission spent hours surfing pornographic websites on government-issued computers while they were being paid to police the financial system, an agency watchdog says.

    About 16 percent of men with Internet access at work admit to looking at online porn while at the office, according to a 2006 survey by Websense Inc.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100423/ap_on_bi_ge/us_sec_porn
    Tell me again why women make 71% of what men make?

  13. Thanks for this post, SoD. My partner and I run a CSA and are struggling right now. The economy has hit ‘frill’ goods like local food pretty hard in our area. Last year we had to turn away people from our CSA.

    This year we’ll be lucky if we fill half our slots. It’s pretty grim for us, we have no other income. It also makes doing the huge amount of chores dispiriting. However, at least we’ll have food to eat, and maybe we can sell the surplus and get something back at least.

    • I can’t understand why people would consider local CSA goods to be “frill.” The price is so much better than grocery store prices. You may not be able to control just what you’re getting, but with a little creativity, it’s easy to adapt.

  14. I wish I could grow my own garden. Unfortunately, we have varmints (rabbits, raccoons, rats) that make it too frustrating. Before I can eat anything I grow, they’ve already taken a bite. I once grew green beans and literally never got the single one. About the time they looked almost ready to pick, they disappeared.

    So we do eat locally. I can’t imagine why anyone would do anything else in the summer, given that the only way to get good produce in my town is to eat what’s locally grown. And the side effect is that it’s good for the environment.

  15. Great post, SoD. Thank you.

  16. From Patriot News:

    Out with Sara: Learn more about Pennsylvania foods
    By Sara Bozich
    April 23, 2010, 5:30AM

    Today is the last day to purchase tickets for Slow Food Harrisburg’s Meet the Producers dinner from 6 to 8:30 p.m. April 30 at Wildwood Conference Center, 1 HACC Drive, Harrisburg.
    (snip)

    Throughout dinner, you’ll hear from the local vendors, and you can ask questions about their food and methods.

    Tickets are $65 for Slow Food, PASA, Buy Fresh Buy Local, PA Preferred and ACF members; $75 for nonmembers. A portion of the meal’s cost could be tax deductible.

    For more information, visit http://www.slowfoodharrisburg.com.

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