Earth Day Underway

By: LeAnne Morman, Jodi Baker Email
By: LeAnne Morman, Jodi Baker Email

Earth Day doesn't officially arrive until Sunday, but many folks in the metro were out in the sunshine on Friday, working closely with Mother Nature.

Volunteers from Integrated Life Choices were busy at the City Sprouts Community Garden near 40th and Seward. The developmentally disabled adults were planting seeds in the garden and mulching.

Integrated Life Choices helps them find work and volunteering opportunities. They've been volunteering at the community garden since September. "If you're not in touch with the earth then I think that a piece of you is missing,” said Integrated Life Choices manager Chance Jensen. “I don't know what could be better."

The food will go to help sustain the community. It's just one of several community gardens in the area. “We try to come out two to three times a week and we'll do anything from weeding the gardens to harvesting tomatoes," said Jensen.

This was everyone's first time working in a garden and they loved it. “I think it’s nice.”

“I am proud of what I have done.”

City Sprouts is in the Orchard Hill neighborhood and they'll be taking part in the city's neighborhood cleanup program on Saturday.

It started last Saturday and will go on every Saturday for the next five weeks. You can bring items that are hard to dispose of like old tires to designated drop-off sites. The number to call is 402-444-4636. Put in your zip code for the times and places of those drop-off sites.

Heading into its 22nd year, Earth Day Omaha has evolved from a simple parade to an event that draws thousands to Elmwood Park.

Event Board member Eric Williams said the event will begin an hour earlier this year, running from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday at Elmwood Park.

“There are booths with different environmental organizations, music and refreshments. There's a kids' tent. There's a rock wall for kids to climb on. It’s just a good opportunity to find out about different organizations and what they do to support the earth."

Bands will take to the stage all day long, beginning with Michael Murphy and wrapping up with headliner Satchel Grande, hitting the stage at 5:20 p.m.

Another highlight this year includes a health and wellness area, including Omaha Hoop from noon to 1 p.m. and an introduction to the Brazilian martial art known as Capoeira Angola from 1 to 2 p.m.

While there will be a number of vendors, none will accept debit or credit cards. Customers must have cash.

Another event for the environment takes place in Carter Lake on Saturday. From 9 a.m. to noon, the public is invited to Mabrey Park to help clean up the lake area.

Chris Lanoha, vice president of Lanoha Nurseries at 192nd and Center, said businesses are becoming increasingly aware of their footprint on the environment. His is among those taking steps to reuse and recycle wherever possible.

“Within our industry there’s so much byproduct and waste that is produced." With that in mind, his company has begun a wood recycling operation allowing county and city government as well as private contractors to drop off tree debris at no charge. A grinder turns the limbs into mulch, which Lanoha then resells to the public.

"These products would otherwise, typically, be dumped in county land fills. They also, more often than not, are held in back lots and burned. In the effort of going green and saving fuel, we've also started to compost our own soils and prevent that product, a byproduct of the landscape industry and the lawn business that would otherwise go to county landfills. We've prevented that from happening, at least in our area."

Lanoha said customers seem to be going “greener” these days as well. The garden center portion of his business now carries more organic products than ever, per customer demand.

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