by Jeanette Reynolds,
Programs and Communication Director,
St. Louis Earth Day
Be part of a community tradition at the 25th anniversary of the St. Louis Earth Day Festival on Sunday, April 27th from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the Muny Grounds of Forest Park. Enjoy three stages of entertainment, learn about sustainable products and services offered by local businesses, meet area non-profits that share the mission of Earth Day, and participate in a variety of hands-on educational activities.
At 12 p.m., join the Honorable Mayor Francis G. Slay at the USAgain Main Stage for the opening ceremony, when Earth Day Action Grants will be awarded to successful projects. The Festival officially kicks off with the All Species Parade and all are welcome to join this costume pedestrian parade through the event grounds, led by the Joia World Percussion Ensemble.
Before the Festival opens, make your way to the Community Stage area to enjoy free activities from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. including yoga, face painting and henna, or make a mask in preparation for the All Species Parade. Yoga will also be offered at 3 p.m. by Registered Yoga Teacher Rebekah Jarchow of LotusEaterYoga, bring a mat or blanket and meet at the information booth to participate.
A themed-neighborhood booth layout makes it easy to navigate the Festival and experience all the celebration has to offer. Visitors can explore the following neighborhoods: Alternative Transportation and Fuels; Arts and Crafts; the Earth Day Café; Energy and Green Building; the Farmers Market; Home and Pets; Nature, Recreation and Wildlife; Reduce, Reuse, Recycle; and, Wellness and Spirituality. Visitors are also invited to reflect upon their experiences and connect with the Earth at the Peace Garden, where activities will take place throughout the day.
By Katie Dieckhaus,
Growing Green Awards Committee Co-Chair
On March 27th the Missouri Gateway Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council held their sixth annual Growing Green Awards banquet at the Mad Art Gallery to announce and celebrate the 2014 winners. Attendees joined to celebrate the accomplishments of all the nominees. Winners and nominees are outstanding individuals and organizations that are active in transforming the built environment. They share a passion for making our region more sustainable.
The Community Champion award went to Deb Frank. Deb’s leadership sets a high standard for operative excellence. She has championed sustainable initiatives in St. Louis and Missouri – from her decades deep roots in energy efficient engineering design to her service as Chapter Coordinator during the formation of the USGBC Missouri Gateway Chapter. As the Vice President for Sustainability for the Missouri Botanical Garden, Deb leverages the influence of her institution to encourage sustainable thinking and practice throughout the region.
MICDS won the Education award. Over the last few years, MICDS faculty has worked to implement curriculum that is highly engaging and problem-based. The 86,000 square foot McDonnell Hall and Brauer Hall (under construction) will provide space for interdisciplinary learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. It will contain laboratory space for work in plant science, robotics and ongoing bench research. The building will include a 100kW photovoltaic panel array, energy-efficient HVAC solar thermal systems, and a storm water filtration system.
Recognition for Innovation was awarded to Gary Steps of Butterfly Energy Works. Gary consistently pushes the envelope of building science and meticulously evaluates the energy usage of every project he works on. He consulted on a home in the Dogtown neighborhood which integrates advanced building materials, technologies, and techniques. The home is fully monitored for interior temperature/humidity levels, electricity and hot water production and usage, and circuit by circuit electrical usage.
Maryville University’s USGBC Student Group was awarded the Emerging Leader award. In the last two years the USGBC Student Group has proven to be tremendously dedicated to supporting environmentally friendly ideals by participating in and leading a number of green awareness projects in our community. Some of these events include “Don’t Be Trashy”, the Maryville University Involvement Fair, Maryville Reaches out “Honeysuckle Project”, and the Parkway School District “Recycling and Composting Awareness Project”.
St. Louis Composting Celebrates International Compost Awareness Week With a Heaping Helping of Compost
St. Louis Composting invites you to join in celebrating International Compost Awareness Week (ICAW), May 5-11, 2014. This year’s theme is “Compost! The Solution to Sustainable Soil and Water”. Planned activities span the globe with celebrations scheduled across the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Europe, Australia and Ireland. Composting advocates will encourage everyone, everywhere to compost. Come join St. Louis Composting and learn how to be more sustainable!
“The Solution to Sustainable Soil and Water” for many, can mean planting a backyard vegetable garden; the ultimate way to go green. Fresh produce comes direct from the garden to your table, cutting out the middle man. As any seasoned vegetable gardener will attest, the best strategy for boosting yields is to build a better soil by conditioning with compost. Compost delivers four major benefits to the gardener, all of which help the environment:
- Compost improves plant/turf quality. Compost reduces spring transplant shock and, longer term, decreases plant stress response to drought, disease and insects. Because of the intense heat generated in compost piles, compost contains no weeds, insects or insect eggs/larvae. Compost also reduces salt damage and provides nutritional balance.
- The benefits of compost are long-lasting. Rain and watering cause chemical fertilizers to leach out of soil stripping it of its nutritional properties. Conversely, compost binds with the soil and releases its nutrients over a multi-year period.
- Compost strengthens soil structure. Compost reduces the compaction of heavy soil, enhances sandy soil and increases both top-soil and soil fertility while rebuilding worn-out soil. Over time, compost makes any type of soil easier to work with.
- Finally, compost can hold six times its weight in water, which reduces the need for irrigation during periods of drought.
But, perhaps more important to remember when planting is that using all-natural, STA-certified compost is part of a 100% efficient recycling cycle.
by Randel A. Agrella
Quality Modern vegetable breeding has yielded some useful varieties, but at a price: quality has been sacrificed to convenience in harvesting and shipping. Crops have been bred for uniformity, or to ripen all at once (simplifying mechanical harvesting), or to withstand rough handling. Quality, taste, and nutritional value have been casualties of this trend. Hybrid types often lack complexity and depth in their flavor, since appearance and shippability are so much more important under a mass-marketing paradigm. Tenderness and fine texture have also often fallen by the wayside. And, increasingly, studies are showing that the nutritional values in factory-farmed produce are actually lower. Agribusiness is okay with that, but agribusiness standards don’t apply in the home garden!
Performance: Despite heirlooms’ reputation for being finicky, this really needn’t be the case. Heirloom varieties are often the product of generations of careful selection by farmers and gardeners who knew what they wanted from their plants. If a variety has been carefully nurtured by generations of a family or in a small geographic area, it stands to reason that it must perform well in the conditions under which it has been preserved. So, by choosing varieties from your own area, or from similar climates, it’s possible to select varieties that will be vigorous and productive in your own garden.
Saving Seed: A great advantage of heirlooms is the fact that true-to-type seed may be saved for use in future years, and renewed year after year! You can’t do this with hybrids; if you save seed grown from hybrid parents, offspring will show wide variation and will usually be markedly inferior to the parents. In fact, careful selection in your own garden can actually produce a unique strain, resulting in even better performance under your unique conditions and methods!
Tradition & Continuity Heirloom
Vegetables represent a priceless legacy, the product of centuries of work by generations of farmers around the globe. When we grow heirlooms, we are the living link in the chain. We take our turn in a succession of growers, each generation of which cherished their favorite varieties and lovingly preserved fresh seed for coming years. As the current custodians, get to make our mark, passing on in turn the varieties we love most. Heirloom seeds are our living legacy, bequeathed to us from the past, and passed on to posterity!