Earth Day 2016
Earth Day is a day set aside to emphasize the environmental issues that our planet is facing—in large part because of the less than conscientious stewardship of the human race. Hopefully, it is a time to recognize that our planet is a living, breathing system of immense complexity that requires action on our part to heal from the abuses it has endured, both past and present. The plight of this planet is indeed an ongoing concern. We, the inhabitants of this Earth, are slow to learn, and even slower to change.
This is the 46th year of the April Earth Day observation. Has much changed in the course of what will soon be five decades since this day was first celebrated? Much has changed, including the fact that we now have a generation that frankly acknowledges Man’s mistakes on this planet, but we are as far or maybe further from repairing the damage than ever. While Western consciousness, where the ecosystem is concerned, has raised significantly, many of the Second and Third world countries on this planet have embraced an industrial model that is poisoning the planet. The rape of natural resources, the ongoing generation of pollution in the water, earth and air, and exploding population growth are damaging the planet much faster than the more enlightened societies on Earth can ever hope to counter.
Still, awareness of the Earth’s plight (Which is really our plight— rid of the human population, the planet would repair itself in a relatively short period of time.) is growing. The organic movement is gaining an ever-expanding following, recycling and reusing have become ingrained in our mindset, and Hope remains. Earth Day is a good reminder of this fact. For more information on Earth Day and the many events surrounding it, including the Trees For The Earth initiative, visit www.earthday.org.
As for me, I plan on spending a good part of Earth Day in the garden. What better place to honor our Great Mother from which all the bounty we enjoy flows, than out in the fresh air and sunshine. I have gardened for most of my life, and will continue to for as long as I am able. I will date myself here by telling how I first encountered the idea of organic gardening and farming, and the possibility of a lifestyle closer to the Earth as a teenager in the 1970s. I was given some back issues of Rodale’s Organic Gardening Magazine (Now Organic Life) and the Mother Earth News, and I was hooked. We already lived a bit of the Back to the Land lifestyle that was becoming popular then, and a few short years later I found myself living on a small Wisconsin Homestead with chickens, geese, pigs, rabbits and sheep.
On that homestead, I learned much about organic gardening, composting, growing and preserving food, spinning and weaving wool, and more other things than I can possibly list. It was a rich experience, and though I moved on from the farmette, those years colored all that were to follow with a reverence for the land and a spiritual connection to our home planet. Since that time in Wisconsin, I have lived in Florida, Texas and North Carolina (And now Florida again!), and I have had some sort of garden in each of these places. When I haven’t had time or the space for a large vegetable garden, I would always find a spot to tuck a tomato or pepper plant, and I am never without pots of herbs.
Of all the places I have lived, Florida continues to offer the most challenge when it comes to maintaining an organic garden. I am seemingly beset by every insect imaginable for at least ten months out of the year. In order to have much of a harvest I have to spray regularly with the organically acceptable insecticides. Though things may improve over time with studious controls and management, that is perhaps beyond me at this point. I pick bugs, I try to do companion planting, I opt for less susceptible plant varieties, and read as much as I can on organic methods. I am currently interested in learning more about permaculture.
Though I am devoted to living as organic a lifestyle as my abilities and finances can handle, and dedicated to living fairly simply, to recycling, reusing and making do, I am farther from perfect than I care to admit. I am as caught up in the lure of pretty things, new clothes and shoes, the latest styles and Stuff I don’t really need as most people, but I remain mindful of this truth. Mindfulness is the first step. Being aware of our foibles, and of the cost to the planet of our lives and technology, is another. Making actual sacrifices to support our views is perhaps the next. Let us all consider these things on Earth Day, and on all the days to come…