Earth Day was founded in 1970 by US senator Gaylord Nelson in reaction to an oil spill in California. Demonstrations held on the first Earth Day led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts; and bans on a number of toxic chemicals. Before such measures were put in place, air pollution was not only accepted, it was dubbed the “smell of prosperity.”
At the Gardens, we do our best to practice Earth Day every day, and our landscapes, gardens, and programming cultivate nature’s benefits and invite guests to slow down and engage in discussion, reflection, and discovery. Behind the scenes, the work continues. We’re constantly working toward greater sustainability in our practices and in developing our research endeavors. Our botanical research focuses on understanding changes and patterns in Maine’s wild plant biodiversity and supporting and protecting native plants in a changing climate. In the gardens themselves, our horticulture team uses compost produced on-site and employs preventative integrated pest management (IPM) and organic weed control methods.
In our education department, programming celebrating the earth and supporting sustainable living and gardening abound, from classes in horticultural ecology to native plant identification, forest therapy walks to botanically themed art classes to children’s programming. And we can’t forget our giant trolls! The Guardians of the Seeds are here in our woods, ready and waiting (come May 1) to teach us all to be better stewards of the environment and reminding us that, like them, we too can leave small footprints.
But change can—and should!—be made on any scale. Here are a few favorite Earth Day (or any day!) activities that inspire us:
- Make a compost pile.
- Plant some shade trees.
- Plan an organic and/or heirloom vegetable, herb, or perennial flower garden.
- Organize a litter pickup and recycle what you can.
- Refuse, reduce, re-use/repair, recycle and rot—in that order.
- Inspired? Volunteer with the Gardens and help us connect people to nature!
- Check out the sustainability shop at Gardenshop or study the natural world with these books.
- Deepen your knowledge, indulge your artistic side, or find family fun with one of our classes.
- Join an Earth Day event near you, like the Earth Day Fest at the Boothbay Harbor Memorial Library on April 23. We’ll be there representing CMBG AND we’ll be participating with Boothbay Region Clean Drinking Water Initiative with a soil permeability demonstration. If you go, stop by our table and say hi!