Love Your Mother (Earth)

These days, more and more folks are making a conscious choice to protect the environment – including the good people of Topeka. As we learn more and more about the effects of our actions on the Earth, we naturally want to take care of our precious home and preserve our resources for our children and grandchildren.

One of the recent concerns is the welfare of our bees and butterflies. Our food supply depends on these pollinators, and they are endangered – mostly as a result of agricultural practices. In fact, Monarch butterfly populations have reduced by 90% in the last 20 years!

Last August, Topeka’s Mayor Larry Wolgast took the National Wildlife Federation’s “Mayors’ Monarch Pledge” and designated August 2016 as “Pledge to Help Save the Monarch Butterfly Month.” You can find the latest news and track the migration of the Monarchs (and many other species) on Journey North’s citizen science website.

The library’s active commitment to saving the Monarchs and other pollinators dates back to the spring of 2014 with the planting of our Monarch Waystation.  In 2015, we expanded it to provide even more support for pollinators. We invite you to visit our garden next time you come to the library – or stop by for a guided mini-tour of the waystation during our upcoming Green Fair.

The library’s annual Green Fair will take place on Saturday, April 22nd, from 1-3 PM. There will be lots of great local resources for those who would like to do more to protect our environment. And we will be distributing handcrafted paper embedded with seeds from the plants in our waystation – so you can take the paper home and plant your own pollinator garden! You can also obtain plants at two upcoming spring events – the Master Gardener Plant Sale in Topeka on May 6th, and the Monarch Watch Open House in Lawrence on May 13th.

There are many other ways that you can nurture the Earth with your gardening practices, and you don’t need to have a large garden or be a Master Gardener to have a positive impact. Mindful gardening doesn’t just benefit the Earth, it benefits us as well. Foods grown in such a way have more nutrients than those grown with chemical fertilizers.  And then there is the added incentive that the production of garden chemicals is harmful to the environment – before they even reach the garden. The library has some great new books about sustainable gardening in big and small ways. Here is a list of some of my favorites:

The Latest Dirt: New Gardening Books

Another great resource is Kansas Healthy Yards and Communities. This website offers tips and videos that are very helpful – for maintaining your lawn in a healthy manner as well as for gardening.

So while the environment continues to be at risk, there is good news, and there are lots of concerned citizens and organizations doing great things!

Jill Mickel

Jill Mickel is a Public Services Specialist and a member of the Arts and Crafts team. Her passions are art and community, and she believes that art is for everyone! When she is not at the library or working in her studio, she can be found gardening, cooking, reading, or bird-watching.