Tuesday, April 21, 2020

It’s A Covid-19 Earth Day.

The Earth portrated with Covid-19 spikes on it. Blue balls of Covid-19 are floating in black space around it.This year, there is simply no way to address Earth Day without acknowledging the pandemic that has enveloped our planet. Many people believe that Earth itself created Covid-19 as a way of purging and re-charging itself, which is intriguing but impossible to know. What we do know is that all of the pandemics that have decimated humankind throughout history came from Nature through viruses and/or bacteria (here are 20 of the most devastating). 

A masked man in a brown hoodie and pink baseball carp walking in front of a nural of a person's face wearing a surgical mask.Blaming 5G (and other outlandish theories) does a great disservice to the scientists who are tirelessly searching for a way to fight this new entity. Covid-19 is now a global issue (here is a regularly updated map) and people are struggling everywhere to make it through this (here are some ways they are managing it around the world). For Earth Day this year, ARBICO Organics has decided to donate to two worthy organizations that are in the thick of this pandemic fight: the Center for Biological Diversity and the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona.

Cascading waterfalls in a rocky canyon. Tucson, AZ
7 Falls, Tucson, AZ
Last year on Earth Day, ARBICO donated to the Sonoran Institute. We whole-heartedly encourage you to acquaint yourself with and support this fine organization. They continue to work to protect our natural resources, particularly crucial water supplies. Nonprofits are struggling at this time, when money is extra-tight and the financial future is uncertain. If you are able, please support local eco-warriors in their fight to preserve our planet.

A close-up of a red Alaskan Fox, with a little white on its face. Photo by Sunyu on Unsplash.We have chosen to donate to the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) because they are local to Tucson and have a clear vision of how what they do can affect the Covid-19 pandemic. CBD is a highly respected environmental advocacy group that has earned 4 out of 4 stars by Charity Navigator for the ethical way they do their work. At first glance, they may not seem an obvious group to become pandemic fighters, but look again. As their Executive Director, Kierán Suckling, writes on their home page: “Our tireless legal and scientific work to protect animals, plants, people, the climate and wild places is ongoing, with an enhanced emphasis on addressing wildlife trade and habitat destruction, two issues at the root of disease outbreaks.” and A green and orange frog on a green leaf. On the Arenal volcano in Costa Rica. Photo by Trevor Cole on Unsplash.“60% of known infectious diseases in people can be transmitted from animals, and 75% of emerging "zoonotic" infectious diseases originate in wildlife. These emergent diseases have quadrupled in the
past 50 years. Adding law enforcement staff, inspectors at our ports of entry, and building global capacity to address the extinction crisis are all needed if we hope to make future pandemics less likely to occur in the first place.” I encourage everyone to read his letter in full; it is powerful. But, don’t stop at his letter - the work they are doing to protect our environment is truly heroic. So, dig into their website and maybe you’ll find a way that you can help the cause.

Dark-haired woman in a blue dress with her hands to her face while sitting at a tablePhoto by Meele Fragata on Unsplash..
The second nonprofit that we’ve chosen to donate to is the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona (which also has a 4 out of 4 rating) This is a no-brainer on every level. With so many businesses closed during this pandemic, a great number of people are struggling to have their basic needs met and people are worried about their next meals. This is especially true in a place like Southern Arizona, which has a large population of underpaid and underserved people. This includes many workers that have crossed the nearby border. Whether documented or not, these people are often suspicious of government institutions (for good reason) and generally ineligible for any kind of assistance. The Community Food Bank has been a safe, no-questions-asked kind of place for everyone since 1975. They have helped countless people in that period, but nowadays the number in need is overwhelming. But this has not stopped them from providing food and kindness to anyone. Please join us in supporting them in their efforts.

Thick jungle foliage - leaves, trees and vines. Photo by Dieny Portinanni on Unsplash.So, if you purchase anything from our website on Wednesday, April 22, 2020 you will donating monetarily to these two stellar organizations. If you’d like to donate directly, there are links on their websites.

A cartoon of a woman with pink hair that says, "When You Can't Hug People, Hug A Tree."As we prepare to mark Earth Day this year, it is important to recognize just how much we are truly connected to Nature’s mysteries. Everyone recognizes the beauty in a perfectly formed flower, but Nature has also created a perfect virus in Covid-19. Its ability to morph and mutate and find a host is a truly wondrous (albeit deadly) thing. Earth Day is meant to be a day that reminds us of our obligation to care for our home planet. But this year, there is a new reminder – Covid-19. Without a world that is healthy and in balance, more of these viruses will emerge and there will be more pandemics. The time to pay attention to Nature is now.

Submitted by Pam

Monday, April 13, 2020

National Gardening Day In A Locked-Down World

Looking down on plants and flowers in pots, a yellow watering can and gardening tools in black dirt
Covid-19 has struck and nothing is the same. Most people these days would agree with that statement, but it’s not entirely true. Nature has continued on unchanged. There are many people who believe Covid-19 welled up from Nature as a cleansing plague to right all our environmental wrongs. It is hard to establish that as fact as Nature does not have intent – it just does its thing. And what it’s doing now is producing Spring. Spring means it’s gardening time and so we mark National Gardening Day on April 14th.

Dark-haired man surrounded by tall purple flowers-Hong Kong flower vendor-by Kelvin Yan on Unsplash
April here at ARBICO is usually a busy time, but this year is especially busy. People are becoming more and more tuned in to where their food comes from and interested in producing it themselves. The same can be said for growing flowers and other plants simply for their beauty. We are rising to the demand (while maintaining safety protocols) and will continue to serve a need that we fully believe in. We have what you need to get going – seeds, seed starting, soil and more. I encourage anyone who is a beginning gardener to read some of the past blogs on soil before you plant; simply type in “soil” in the search on the blog page. Healthy soil is essential to a healthy garden.

A beautiful bed embraced by grey stones below a front porch with white railing.
Gardening while social distancing should be a pleasure and not a chore. For many veteran gardeners, being with their plants is their Zen time and being alone there is their preference. This man explains it well. But, for those of you who are unsure, I offer some ways to celebrate National Gardening Day in this unusual time we’re in.

Look into a Garden Club: My mother was a member of a Garden Club and I remember days spent at flower shows, touring magnificent gardens and waiting for those first Spring flowers to pop out. While I may not have fully appreciated everything she showed to us at that time, it ultimately gave me an overall appreciation for the beauty of growing things. Garden Clubs are still as relevant today as they were back then. Rookie gardeners, especially, may find the wealth of information and experience amongst the members extremely helpful. Join up, give them a call or send an email. Here is their website, from which you can find a club near you.

A solitary man between the rows of plants and flowers at a garden center.
Go to a local nursery/garden center: I want to emphasize local; they are still open and desperately need your business. Spring is when they make the biggest chunk of their money and, like many other businesses, there’s just not enough people showing up. So skip the chaos of big box stores and stroll leisurely through your neighborhood nursery. If you are concerned about running into people; call and ask for their advice on the best time to visit (Here is how one nursery in Winston-Salem, North Carolina is adapting to serve their customers). While you’re there, buy a gift certificate and send it to a lucky someone (new homeowner, avid gardener, or someone who is gardening-curious). A gift card lets them purchase at the proficiency level they are comfortable with and provides some money in the till for the nursery.

A blonde little girl in a ble & white striped shirt crouched down and watering a pot full of purple flowers.
Gardening as exercise: If you have been stuck idle at home, your body is probably craving exercise. Gardening is a form of exercise that can be adapted to most anyone’s physical capabilities. You’ll probably hear more from me on this on National Gardening Exercise Day, June 6th. But, for now, I’d like to suggest you get the kids out there digging and playing. Here is a link to a site that is chock-full of ideas for activities. National Gardening Day is the perfect excuse to get them into the yard.

What if you don’t have a yard to garden in? Apartment dwellers don’t despair – there are still ways to get your garden on:

Drummond Castle Gardens, Perthshire, Scotland
Drummond Castle Gardens, Perthshire, Scotland
Tour gardens remotely: Many of the most famous gardens in the world have virtual tours that allow you to experience them from afar. Get away from the news and Facebook and experience their beauty. See what you’d like to grow or where you’d like to go. Check these out here and here. Share the tours with the kiddos; you could fold the beauty of the gardens into a fun geography lesson with this really cool 3D interactive Earth.

Assorted potted plants on white shelves. Pick a plant and pot me-by Amy Chen on Unsplash
Garden indoors: With the possible exception of large trees, you can grow most anything indoors that grows outdoors. Some plants may be particularly tricky, but there are thousands of options that can easily be adapted to container growing. Or just plant a bunch of cute little plants in quirky planters – your mood and décor will be instantly elevated. And you can order everything you need from the comfort and safety of your home.

Find a community garden, CSA or nonprofit that you can get food from: If you cannot grow your own food, the next best thing is to tap into those people that are growing in your community. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has been around for 25 years, but every year it gains in popularity. With this program you are actively supporting farmers through the growing season. More on how it works here. Community Gardens in your area can be found through a little simple Googling. Look into nonprofits; there are people out there doing fascinating things. For instance, here in Tucson there is a group of refugees that gleans unwanted produce and citrus. More on them here.

An old woman on a wooden bench in a garden.By Andreea Popa on UnsplashNo matter who or where you are, I encourage everyone who is able to just go outside and enjoy Nature’s garden on National Gardening Day. Whether you have a national park or a vacant lot in your backyard, there are ecosystems you can enjoy. For me, simply sitting on the balcony and observing the birds gives me that small, but necessary, Nature fix.

And now for a fun little game: What’s your tree sign? I didn’t know, either. But now I know I’m Ivy, the Equalizer. I’ll say that some of it is spot on and some of it is way off, but I will not say which is which. You can play here.

A gif of actor David Spade. The caption reads "Life is a garden. Dig it"
Happy National Gardening Day, everyone!

Submitted by Pam

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