One of my most vivid memories from childhood is of my grandpa's garden. He had acres and acres of tidy rows of beans, corn, tomatoes, rhubarb, hills of strawberries. I would follow behind him as he roto-tilled in the spring, my toes sinking into the warm earth, trying not to step on the wriggling earth worms the tiller would bring up to the surface.
I loved that garden, and I loved the delicious fruits and vegetables it produced. As I grew up, the appeal of all that hard work and (eww!) dirt waned and I forgot the pleasure of biting into a juicy tomato straight from the garden, still warm from the sun, in favor of the convenience and price savings of the grocery store produce section.
A few years ago, I read Michael Pollan's "The Omnivore's Dilemma" on the recommendation of a friend and woke up from my food sleepwalk to remember what I had forgotten and what my grandpa had always known — growing your own is better for you, gardening is great exercise, dirt feels good on your fingers and toes. I began a square foot garden in my backyard the very next spring.
My corner of Kansas has had a very cold and wet spring so I'm behind on planting the garden, but as I looked at the calendar and realized Earth Day is Friday, I decided to do something special in honor of my grandpa and my planet and get those first seedlings in the ground that day. I'll pile the crumbly soil up around the little stems and think about my grandpa, whose gardening days are over, and look forward to that first tomato, freshly picked, still warm from the sun.
Looking for a way to celebrate Earth Day? Here is a small roundup of various events around Kansas in honor of the planet.
After a group cleanup of the Gardner Greenway Corridor, join the Parks and Recreation Department for a free barbeque lunch in the park. Watch a tree planting demonstration and take part in a drawing for free trees, t-shirts and lots of other prizes.
The University of Kansas Center for Sustainability presents "Home" by Yann Arthus-Bertrand
, a film in celebration of planet Earth and a warning of how human activity has upset its innate balance, April 22.
The Manhattan Sunset Zoo has scheduled its Earth Day/Gaia Walk and Rock from noon to 5 p.m., April 30. For more information, call (785) 587-2737.
Kansas State University will join in the environmental celebration with two on-campus events
that are both free and open to the public, April 22. The first is a parade and exhibit by various campus organizations. Later that day, the campus will present the film "Ecofeminism: What in the World is It?"
The Student Environmental Alliance at Johnson County Community College will host its third annual Earth Day event
from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, April 22, in the Commons Plaza on the JCCC campus. Earth Day is a campus and community educational and networking event revolving around issues of sustainability.
Children and their family members can make artistic bird feeders and bird houses from 1 to 4 p.m. April 23 at the Mulvane Art Museum, S.W. 17th and Jewell Streets. For more information, call (785) 670-1124.
Boeing Wichita presents Earth Day Kansas, Thursday, April 21
. This free environmental fair at the Sedgwick County Zoo gives everyone the opportunity to learn how to protect and care for the world we live in. With hands-on activities and interactive exhibits, there are many learning opportunities for children. Activities are geared towards third through 5th grade.
Tallgrass Film Association celebrates Earth Day with a screening of "Bag it,"
Thursday, April 21, at the Forum Events Center.