Earth Day in Kalamazoo
Fri, 22 Jan 1999 16:53:34 -0500

Report on Earth Day '97 Kalamazoo Nature Center, April
19, 1997

Earth Day In Kalamazoo Combines Soil Tests,
Organic Growers' Recommendations, and Native American Gardening Lore

. . . "like having all your ducks in a row." So it seemed to three groups
who shared adjacent booth spaces at the celebration of Earth Day at the
Kalamazoo Nature Center on April 19. The organizations were Organic
Growers of Michigan, Southwest Chapter; Two Worlds Intertribal Lodge; and
Western Michigan University Environmental Studies department. Each booth
had unique offerings, but dove-tailed in important ways.

Western Michigan University's Environmental Studies department, under the
leadership of Molly Cole, provided soil analysis for individuals who
brought soil from their home gardens. Previous to Earth Day, the
availability of this service was publicized. About twenty people brought
soil to be tested.

The Organic Growers of Michigan (OGM), with their table next to that of the
fore-mentioned group, provided information to those poeple whose soil
sample indicated deficiencies. Their expertise included how to use natural
remedies such as compost, mulch, potting mix made of rock powders, blood
meal, peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite. These materials may be needed
as additions to soil to give it the healthy balance of NPK plus the
structure conducive to vigorous plant development. The individuals of this
organization also provided literature on other organic groups,
certification standards used by the OGM, plus membership information. Mary
Frances Fenton, OGM member, commented that the group of people which
attended this event seemed already informed about earth-friendly gardening.
Many were interested in gaining more extensive information on organic
gardening and asked if there was a bibliography available.

Two Worlds Intertribal Lodge, whose tables were next in the row, featured
some of the organically grown seedlings from one of the women in OGM. It
was good to have plants available which were grown in ways which honor
Mother Earth, i.e. without use of toxic or synthetic materials. Another
aspect of this booth emphasized traditional Native American gardening,
particularly the "Three Sisters," corn, beans, and squash, plus sunflowers.
Seed packets containing this combinationwere available. Information on
how to plant them in the traditional way, plus harvest and use them in
Native American recipes was also there. It is interesting to note that
many of the methods used by organic gardeners, such as interplanting
certain crops, have been used by Native gardeners all around the planet for
thousands of years. It seems appropriate that local organic growers, the
WMU Environmental Studes department and a Lodge which seeks to honor and
respect the Earth and all life upon it, stood side-by-side at the
celebration of Earth Day, "97. "Mitacuye oyasin" (we are all relatives).
Contributed by Carolyn Buskirk, member of Two Worlds Intertribal Lodge

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