This year, Northfield celebrated Earth Day with a variety of events that lasted the entire Earth Day weekend. On Saturday there was a Cannon River cleanup and trailbuilding in the Maltby Nature Preserve. Saturday night there was a Contra Dance in Carleton's Great Hall.
On Sunday the United Church of Christ held an Earth Service and potluck, and Northfield High School put on a parade from Central Park to Bridge Square. An outdoor festival was planned for the rest of the afternoon, but when it began to rain the location was moved to the United Church of Christ. At the festival there were music, kid's activities, and a variety of environmentally-friendly products for sale, such as Peace Coffee. Environmentally active organizations around town had booths up with information about what they do.
A few of the organizations were well known, such as the Co-op, which was selling kumquats and red bananas for 50¢ each. The Rice County Soil & Water Department had a presentation up about constructing rain gardens, and the Earth Scouts showed off the results of a research project they did on the water cycle.
Some of the organizations were a surprise, at least to me. One of the tables at the festival was reserved for the Friends of Way Park. Way Park is a tiny park in northern Northfield on the corner of Olaf and First. The ladies there explained to me that the city block south of Way Park used to belong to the park as well, but it was since used to build a hospital. They discovered in the town records that now that the hospital has moved, that land rightfully belongs to Way Park and they are campaigning for the park's expansion. The plan has gotten initial approval but still needs to go through public hearings.
Some local farmers had information Community Supported Agriculture, a very cool program that works a bit like a vegetable-of-the-month subscription. Northfield residents can buy a "share" of a local farm's harvest by making a payment to the farm. Once a week, throughout the growing season, they can pick up fresh vegetables straight from the farm.
At the festival, the Sustainability Award was given to several community members for their outstanding work to make Northfield a more environmental community. The three winners were Rebecca Dernbach, Miles Bakke, and Bruce Anderson. Rebecca Dernbach is a Carleton student who is involved in MPIRG. She played an important role in this year's Dorm Wars. Miles Bakke, the groundskeeper of the Arboretum, is responsible for the prairie restoration project going on in the Arb. Before he came as groundskeeper, there was almost no prairie in the Arboretum. Bruce Anderson is the coordinator of Renew Northfield, an organization whose goal is to make Northfield energy self-sufficient.
Just because Earth Day weekend is over doesn't mean that you can't still get involved in protecting the environment! There are a variety of groups around campus you can join, such as Green House and Kids for Conservation. Or next weekend, you could participate in a buckthorn clearing with Arbor.
Here are some links you may find helpful: