Organizers outdid themselves with their celebration of Earth Day at The Farm at SOU on Friday, April 21, with about 2,000 people and 50 dogs joining the festivities to enjoy exhibits, live performances, an electric vehicle showcase, bike rodeo, art, food trucks and more.
This year’s Earth Day celebration was sponsored by Sustainability at SOU, the Ashland Food Co-op, Café Mam and Stracker Solar, and other partners in the event include the ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum and Southern Oregon Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Association (SOHEVA). More than 30 community organizations and sustainability-minded businesses hosted educational exhibits and opportunities for action.
A variety of educational activities were available for those who took part in the “Earth Day Ecoquest,” vying to win prizes for completing tasks at designated booths.
The Klamath Bird Observatory and the Audubon Society offered information about birds, and how to identify and protect them. Rogue Valley Storm Water Management, the local Forest Service and Stream Smart all taught about water use, showing kids how to identify different types of pollutants in water and using a watershed model that simulated water run-off. Pachamama Alliance and the Water League teamed up on a gratitude activity, asking everyone to write down why they are grateful for water and to contribute a stone to a gratitude pool.
Several matching games were offered, including animal track matching with The Crest at Willow Witt, seed-to-flower matching with the Understory Initiative, microgreen-to-seed-to-vegetable matching with Rogue Valley Farm to School, and even scat-to-animal matching with Lomakatsi Restoration Project.
Earth Day participants had a chance to get their hands dirty by helping out in the Farm at SOU, weeding onion and garlic beds, and transplanting kale and fennel starts. Siskiyou School made seed bombs, participants planted sunflower seeds in compostable plant pots with Jackson County Library Services, and Subaru had various native shrubs and pollinator plants to give away.
Children gained knowledge by answering questions about pollinators and bees, and drawing butterflies at Pollinator Project Rogue Valley’s tent.
The Rogue Valley Transportation District provided free bike tune-ups and free, bike-blended smoothies. Bike riders were then directed to the bike valet, run by Siskiyou Velo, before enjoying the other festivities.
Food trucks from Caba Empanadas and Sultan’s Delight offered meals, and SOHEVA showed a large assortment of electric vehicles the parking lot of The Farm, and offered test rides to participants.
Entertainment was provided by Elbow Room Taiko, followed by performances from Jackie Tomato, Creekside Strings, Liz Pisarcyck and the Dad Rock band.
Earth Day has been celebrated annually each April 22 in the U.S. since 1970, and globally since 1990; it was observed a day early this year at SOU because the actual holiday was on a weekend. The SOU Student Sustainability Team (formerly ECOS) has hosted a local version of the event for more than 20 years – historically, in the Stevenson Union courtyard. The Student Sustainability Team moved the event to The Farm at SOU last year to help fill a void that was left when the Rogue Valley Earth Day event at the neighboring ScienceWorks was discontinued.