On Wednesday April 22nd, members from UA Students for Sustainability and the SGA Department of Environmental Concerns were given the opportunity to present a table at Earthapalooza, which was graciously hosted by Bryant High School in Cottondale. Students from Woodland Forest Elementary among others, were able to attend and enjoy a beautiful day in the sunshine while learning about sustainability and other environmental issues. Tables that included tie-dying and a dunking booth were popular attractions, as was a cannon that shot recyclables into blue bins that were designated as targets downrange on the running track. The Earth Nerds at Bryant High were on hand to provide guidance and instruction to the younger students, as well as unfortunate subjects for the dunking booth. Their organization, which includes teachers and students, is comprised of over 150 active members who seek to promote environmental awareness in their school and community. Earthapalooza was a culminating event for the group, who earlier this school year received a $1,000.00 grant from the Weyerhaeuser Company to broaden the school’s recycling efforts.
Our table included a vermiculture diorama with examples from each stage of the decomposition process, from the initial introduction of shredded paper and vegetable scraps, to the final product: highly nutritious, sifted worm castings. Several students were delighted to find that the process of worm composting was such a simple way to turn what was once considered trash into a product that is pivotal for a healthy, bountiful garden. The versatility of worm compost was demonstrated with a Pespsi bottle full of worm tea, which can be diluted and applied to the soil of any plant in need of a hearty meal. We also brought along over twenty of our surplus tomato seedlings to share with the students. Varieties included sweetie, tropical, glacier and San Marzano tomatoes. For the cut-rate price of two or four 50-cent tickets, each student was able to take home a seedling with instructions provided by Nicole Ortega. Later on this summer, the students will be able to participate in a tomato-growing contest with the winner from each variety being recognized at one of the upcoming Homegrown Alabama Farmer’s Markets. Overall, Earthapalooza proved to be an excellent opportunity to interface with younger students and help begin building the foundation for a future that is environmentally conscientious.