My partner and I wrote this for the local Natural Awakenings publication in April 2009 as an introduction to Earth Day.
Earth Day is a wonderful opportunity for each of us to discover new ways to reestablish or deepen our connection with the Earth. This year, as we all revel in the return of spring after a long cold winter, here are five ways to keep your personal relationship with the Earth in mind.
Grow Your Own
Start your own garden. Whether large, small or even potted, this is, hands- down, the best way to reconnect to Mother Earth. Many can recall how, during our early learning, we planted seeds in little cups of dirt and over time, observed in great wonder how a sprout reared up from the soil. We can easily rekindle this sense of wonder by growing some of our own food. It doesn’t matter if you own a home or rent a loft—you can set aside a small area of the yard or purchase some large plastic pots or pottery to get started.
Another way to make a connection is to become involved in a community garden. Even caring for houseplants nourishes physical and emotional well being; getting your hands dirty by growing your own food takes this a step further. Nothing tastes better than food you’ve had a hand in growing. The Detroit Garden Resource Program, a local gardening support group, is here to help new home gardeners. Visit Detroitagriculture.org/garden_ resourceprogram.htm.
We began composting several years ago, and now gladly share our surprise at how much it increased our aware- ness of the Earth and our attentiveness to the cycle of life. Initiating an estab- lished routine of composting in early spring prepares the way for effective composting in warmer weather.
For example, keep a five-gallon bucket, fitted with a tight lid, in your kitchen. In March, begin putting in all produce cuttings, coffee grounds, etc. In the summer, we use recycled produce bags or soy milk containers to store smaller amounts in the kitchen and move the larger bucket outside, near the garden. If you do not have your own garden and wish to share your compost, many community gardens and local farms happily accept it. Be sure to ask for the garden or farm’s composting guidelines. HowToCompost.org shares many ways to compost.
Follow the Moon
In a fast-paced, modern world, the idea of tracking the moon’s cycles may seem almost primitive, yet we have found it a powerful ally in our quest to continually reconnect with nature. The moon guides modern farmers, as it did the ancients, in the best times for seed- ing and harvesting. It influences the ebb and flow of Earth’s waters, and we believe it may influence our physical bodies, as well.
Picking up a calendar that details moon phases can help. The Moon Connection (MoonConnection.com/ moon_phases_calendar.phtml) is one online resource. However, if you are Web savvy, you can find a plethora of tools and gadgets that will keep you aware of not only Earth’s moon, but also daily times for sunrise and sunset.
Because farmers traditionally plant on the new moon and harvest on the full, we’ve translated this into our lives by beginning projects and establishing personal goals on the new moon and celebrating our progress on the full. These rituals have been helpful and kept our lives in closer connection with the world around us.
With the economic decline, every- one we know has started to pay a bit more attention to the origin of their purchases. We can take an active role in developing local resilience to hard times by seeking out local products.
Increasing the percentage of local goods that you purchase grows the local economy and reduces the amount of energy used to transport them. It also provides increased op- portunities to interact and share with the people who grow the food and make the supplies we need. Sustainable Connections (SConnect.org/thinklocal/ why) offers 10 reasons to buy local.
Change Your Diet
One of the top contributors to global warming is animal agriculture. Rising carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide emissions are released by the massive quantities of animals raised on factory farms. Consuming one pound of such meat is estimated to emit the same amount of greenhouse gasses as driving an SUV 40 miles.
As an alternative, studies by the Uni- versity of Chicago and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations suggest that adopting a veg- etarian diet is the most effective way that an individual can reduce global warming. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (pcrm.org) is an excellent health and nutrition resource for those considering a transi- tion to a plant-based diet.
Our own vegan diet (eliminating all animal byproducts, including eggs and dairy) has benefited our overall health and reduced our healthcare costs. We also save significant grocery money and enjoy supporting local farmers by seeking out nearby sources of grains, fruits and veggies for our table.
Our hope is that everyone in our community will find their own suitable ways to enjoy the many benefits of growing closer to Earth’s bounty.
Detroit Evolution Laboratory was founded in the historic Eastern Market in 2007. Dedicated to the health, joy and liberation of all beings, “The Lab” promotes active, aware, healthy and sustainable vegan and raw food lifestyles in the city of Detroit.