April 2008
Featured Articles

Celebrate Earth Day with a Year-Long Commitment

By Ashley Smith

Healthy flower and vegetable plants are available at participating Co-ops. Brittany Philips at Taleecon Farmers Co-op in Notasulga recommends a beautiful flat of pansies in celebration of Earth Day.  
"In the clamor of our lives, let us take time for our peace and grace," the pastor stated in the opening prayer. As the pastor prayed, the noon church bell tolled in the background while ironically a fire truck clanged loudly down the street. We all have "clamor" in our lives – the distractions oftentimes take away from the important things in our lives. From time to time, it is good to take stock of what is important.

For so many, the important things include our faith, family, friends and even our environment. With Earth Day, April 22, just around the corner, let’s take a few minutes to reflect on our environment, what it means to us and how we can help sustain it for future generations.

One of the dictionary definitions of environment states it is "the complex of physical, chemical and biotic factors that act upon an organism or ecological community." Yet our environment is so much more to us than mere words in a book. For readers of the AFC Cooperative Farming News, the environment is our backyard, our office, our yesterdays and our tomorrows. It is the playground for our children and grandchildren, the home for our livestock and the refuge for the wildlife living there too. For years, many of us have gotten up with the sun, spent the waking hours working in or for the environment, and gone to bed as the moon rises. We were taught by parents and grandparents to take care of it so it may take care of us in return. As generation after generation of people have lived on the land and taken care of it, we have learned what proves to be good, or at least better, for the land. We have learned from our mistakes and have moved forward to care for our environment.

One step in moving forward for our environment came with the inception of Earth Day more than 38 years ago. Although the idea formed long before its actual debut, the first Earth Day was organized on April 22, 1970. United States Senator Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin believed the environment should be a part of politics. He believed the environment should be taken into consideration in the process of governing our great country. What began as an organized demonstration nearly four decades ago has turned into a greater opportunity for awareness of the environment, our country and our world. At schools throughout the United States, and many other countries, Earth Day is a day for celebrating our great planet and reflecting on ways we can make it better.

  Using the proper type and amount of fertilizer helps the environment. Jordan Tow and Phillip Sims prepare to load fertilizer for a customer at Taleecon Farmers Co-op.
Sustaining our environment for future generations – it is something that has been done for years by most of us! However, in the spirit of Earth Day, do something unique and different for our environment. Find at least one way you can make a difference. All it takes is an open mind! While many Alabamians recycle, there are still more who do not. For one week, commit to recycling. Many communities offer curbside recycling programs alongside weekly trash pickup. For those that do not, there are usually recycling centers where items can be delivered. During the course of a week, newspapers and plastics quickly add up!

Another simple way to reduce our ecological footprint on the earth is to compost items in the kitchen. When preparing meals, save those vegetable scraps in a separate container and toss them onto a compost pile. With a little time, the scraps will turn into great mulch for your garden or lawn. Your local Co-op store carries a variety of containers in many different sizes that would make recycling and composting a snap!

Another way to help the environment is to use the proper type and amounts of fertilizers and herbicides on your garden or lawn. Talk with the friendly folks at your Co-op store about the right products to purchase and apply. They can also help you select just the right vegetables and/or flowers to plant in celebration of Earth Day 2008!

Sometimes we have to go beyond the clamor of our lives to seek peace and grace. Our environment helps us do so when we glimpse a beautiful sunset, watch a rambling creek or view a living creature in its own habitat. By doing our part, we make a commitment to our environment. While Earth Day is celebrated on April 22 each year, we can make every day Earth Day!

Ashley Smith is a freelance writer from Russell County.