The first Earth Day, April 22,1970: I remember it well. I was 11 years old and in sixth grade in Ames, Iowa. That year all public school sixth graders were bused to one school from all over town. But in honor of the first Earth Day, bus rides were suspended and we were encouraged to walk or ride our bikes to school, and with friends I made what seemed like a very long (two-mile!) journey across town to our school. We were greeted there with an environmental “teach-in,” part of a grassroots, nation-wide effort sparked by Gaylord Nelson
I thought about that journey as I rode my bike this morning to the Farm Aid office for a regular work-day. I ride to and from the office almost every day, though I confess mine is a green-ness pushed along by having my car stolen last summer. Initially forced to find alternative means of transportation, I now embrace the alternatives, and am lucky enough to live in a place where public transportation is actually quite good.
We now know that every day is Earth Day, or should be. Must be. A recent online story in USA Today, “On Plains, Concerns About Another Dust Bowl“, offers a stark reminder of what’s in store for us without dedicated, constant, and creative attention to the air, soil, and water that support life on earth. Of course, farmers and ranchers who work the land on our behalf are central to this effort, and Farm Aid seeks out ways to assist them in managing and conserving the precious resources that we all depend on in order to breathe, eat, and live.
As part of our larger commitment to a genuinely sustainable, family farm-centered food system, Farm Aid provides grants to non-profit organizations that educate, train, and support producers in the adoption of cutting-edge methods of land stewardship. For example, our recent grant to Holistic Management International of Texas seeks to avert another Dust Bowl by educating farmers and ranchers in methods of reclaiming and replenishing lands rendered virtually un-usable because of climate change and prolonged drought.
Join us in our efforts this Earth Day. Support your local farmer, support Farm Aid, grow a garden, ride a bike. Earth Day is a beautiful idea, but let’s start thinking in terms of Earth Moments every day, beginning with this one, right now.