Flowers, trees, butterflies and bees; clover, dandelion and light showers in the sunshine. We can talk about all the things that make Earth special, and also drop a rhyme. Here’s to Earth Day, a reminder that our existence is not separate from a lush diversity of living creatures.
The first Earth Day was propagated as a political stunt to rally the 1960s flower-love children into supporting environmentally feasible policies. Since its debut in 1970, look how far we’ve come: The polar ice caps are melting, the rain forests are deteriorating, fertile lands are lost to desertification and the world’s problems are too big to fathom restoration. Individuals are faced with decisions about personal sacrifices that in the vast scheme of things seem to hold no weight in actually fixing what has become an ecological conundrum.
The unfortunate reality is that there are no simple solutions. Although environmental responsibility has been largely co-opted by political schemes, we should never lose sight of the intrinsic value of environmental integrity.
For all of its green endeavors, Binghamton University’s finest may be the introduction of BU Acres Farm. The project is located on the back side of the Nature Preserve, about 1.5 miles up Bunn Hill Road. Going into its second growing season, the farm provides students with the opportunity to gain insight into some “fruitful” ecological workings. Caretaking the two-acre parcel of land is a unique experience that puts people back in touch with the very basis of their own livelihood.
BU Acres is based on permacultural principles, which treat food production as an ecological process rather than dominance over nature. If we use protracted observation before protracted action, we can work within ecological variables to create a system that utilizes the patterns already in place. This means understanding the climate, soil and other aspects to make informed decisions about how to use the land. Embracing biodiversity steers us toward success. No species can exist in a vacuum. We must account for the earthworms, birds, pollinators and numerous beneficial plant species. There’s no sense in haste, and careful planning is required. All of this will culminate into less expended energy with greater yields.
Last fall, students working on the farm (myself included) harvested a plethora of crops: squash, zucchinis, beans, potatoes, kale, chard, radishes, carrots, apples and pears. This season, a new group of interns and drop-in volunteers are working toward building more garden beds and deer fences, expanding the orchard and increasing student participation.
It’s Earth Day, and the planet is still getting warmer. Cultivating your own vegetables is not going to change that, but maybe it will change something else. When we actively invest a piece of ourselves into the planet, not only are we able to provide for ourselves, but our sense of self-worth is increased. Everything on this planet is connected, so whatever we put out comes right back to us.
The human race has achieved remarkable things. Not only are we an anomaly on this planet, but in the universe as well. Yet, we cannot overlook that we wouldn’t exist without Earth. Clean water, air and food are too often taken for granted when in reality they’re rapidly becoming scarcer. As far as we know, one could travel 43.5 gigalight-years to the edge of the universe, and a planet quite like ours would not be found. It may not seem like much to plant some seeds, watch some birds or let some pollen into your sneeze, but it all comes down to the same thing: The planet needs conscious care if we continue to call it our home.