North Carolina Central University will celebrate this 41st Earth Day in the Campus Garden with a series of environmentally focused events ranging from birdhouse building to a scavenger hunt.
Earth Day got started as a series of educational events held on college campuses to bring more public attention to the perils of air and water pollution. In similar fashion, each of the garden activities will have an educational component, said Kristin Hauser, chair of the NCCU Campus Garden Committee.
“We wanted to have events that would get people outside and get more people familiar with the garden,” said Hauser, a chemistry major. “Also, with it being exam week, we were looking for something that can be a positive distraction.”
Activities to celebrate Earth Day this year seem especially welcome following months of COVID-19 restrictions.
The origins of the modern environmental movement go back to the early 1960s and Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring, which laid out the argument that air and water pollution are a threat to public health. The concept was widely embraced around the world, and the environmental movement began.
Since that time, researchers have learned much about the impacts of pollution, the dangers of greenhouse gasses, and nature of groundwater and harm that chemicals and other substances cause to all forms of life, whether human, plant or animal.
Studies have shown economic disparities also play a role, with low-income neighborhoods more often the site of environmental hazards such as landfills or chemical plants. These neighborhoods also typically have fewer healthy lifestyle options, such full-service stores selling fresh produce or convenient medical offices.
That is all part of what’s behind NCCU’s Earth Day activities, Hauser said.
“We we want more people to become aware of the garden and sponsor a growing bed,” she added. “It is needed because NCCU is in a food desert.”
The Campus Garden sits between Mary Townes Science Complex and the Biomanufacturing Research Institute and Technology Enterprise, better known as BRITE.
The garden was started almost a decade ago to grow "nutritious and organic food” that could be available free of charge to students and local residents. The garden also plays a role in biodiversity, with plants that support bees and birds, and it gives the university way to reach out to the surrounding neighborhood.
Over the past year, with in-person university activities paused due to COVID-19, the Campus Garden has been needed some attention, Hauser said. The volunteers are now working on its refurbishment.
“We have a group of people who like to volunteer in the garden,” Hauser said. “We meet Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.”
Additional volunteers are always welcome.
“We’ve been working this spring on repairing the water system and getting rid of weeds,” she added.
With 10 plant beds established, volunteers are ordering materials to add a half-dozen more, including one that will be handicap accessible, Hauser said.
“We are hoping to get NCCU students and organizations, as well as the Durham community, to sponsor beds. Once we are ready to start harvesting, we will reach out to elementary schools, in the area to distribute the produce.”
Everyone on campus is invited to visit the Campus Garden during the week of April 19 to become acquainted with the site and have some fun.
The schedule for activities is:
April 19, 6-8 p.m., Scavenger Hunt
April 20: 10:40-11:35 a.m., Yoga in the Garden
April 21, 7:30 p.m., Poetry Slam
April 22, 5-7:30 p.m., Garden Party
April 24, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Birdhouse Painting.
For more information, contact Hauser at firstname.lastname@example.org.