Pat Murphy….The Earth Day Festival at Alta Vista Botanical Gardens this year wasn’t at all what I expected. The first thing I noticed was a severe lack of automobiles in the general parking lot that sits just below the entrance to the gardens. I normally wait until the event has been going for an hour so I have more people to talk with. By then I usually have to park out at the edges and walk past over 100 cars… but not this year.
I parked fairly close to the walk-through gate where a winding trail leads up to the main entrance. Coming to the first switch back on the trail I spied a small brown rabbit next to the trail. The rabbit was almost successful about blending in and you will have to look close at my photograph to see this apropos greeter for Earth Day at AVBG. I took spotting the rabbit as a good sign.
This free event at the 14-acre Botanical Gardens is held every Spring to celebrate our Earth with a day outdoors. At the top of the trail just inside the main entrance I was greeted by Carol Lee and Mary Murphy. They were volunteering to sign in volunteers and give general information. Looking past the sign-in table, I glanced down the main driveway that by now should have been packed with people going along the booths on both sides of the road. Unfortunately, I only saw a handful of people. There were almost as many trash cans as people.
Ah yes, the trash cans. You may remember that in my story for Earth Day at AVBG year before last. I mentioned that the trash cans were not carefully marked and people ended up disposing of both waste and recycles in the same trash cans. Not a very environmental way to celebrate Earth Day. As a result, last year the trash cans were distinctively marked for recycles and waste.
However, this year the organizers really took my words to heart and they completed a truly successful trash separation at Earth Day Festival 2017. In order to accomplish this, the Earth Day organizers recruited a new breed of volunteer. “Trash Talkers” that had nothing to do with sports and everything to do with teaching the importance of separating trash to create less waste. Student volunteers manned the trash cans on the main driveway and with “trash talking” they helped visitors separate trash into food, paper, recyclable containers and trash.
Results of this new procedure were very successful and very planet friendly. They were able to reduce the waste that went to the landfill by 2/3. Food, paper plates, and napkins will be composted into garden soil. Aluminum cans and water bottles will be returned for cash refunds. Very little trash was left – mostly the gloves the students wore while sorting! This could be the model for all outdoor events in Vista and beyond.
Down in the Children’s Garden is where I found the highest concentration of Earth Day visitors to AVBG. Supervising the Earth Day Festival activities for dozens of children were many young volunteers from Guajome Park Academy and a group of Volunteers from the Woman’s Club of Vista GFWC. I caught Women’s Club members Cheryl Mast, Sheila Carlson, and Mary Blackburn helping kids make butterflies from recycled material. I had our photographer, “the Butterfly”, snap a photo of some of these artistic Papilionoidea so you could see how by just folding paper and adding some colored pipe cleaners, you get a realistic and colorful butterfly.
At a nearby table under a shady California Pepper tree, was a sign that proclaimed, “Earth Day Rocks”. Sitting around the table were children painting rocks with bright designs. Further past this table was where plant cups were being assembled. The kids were taking cuttings of plants and succulents, soil, rocks and other vegetation and creating small gardens to take home and nurture. We passed two youngsters, Isabella and younger brother Frank who proudly displayed their handiwork to us. Their older brother Carlos was volunteering at the tables with fellow students Jimera and Christina.
As Farmer Jones and a group of kids were planting strawberries, music floated through the children’s garden and yellow butterflies were flitting through the surrounding spring blooms. Bees were buzzing the tall lilac colored blossoms. Vic Moraga gracefully stroked his guitar and sang to all those who entered the garden. On the Lowes Pavilion near the ladies from the Women’s Club, came the angelic sounds of Karen Hinkson-Buck. The large harp she caressed was producing such beautiful peaceful music that I wanted to just sit down and spend the rest of the day there.
No rest for me. My editor sent me here to get the story and so I reluctantly went in search of more to write about. I went by the large upper pond where I saw children oo’ing and ah’ing at a large red neck turtle that was sun bathing atop some lily pads. Back down the trail where the small lower pond sits next to a spectacular view point, there were two more turtles floating in a sea of lily pads with their necks stretched way out.
Along the main driveway vendor booths were still waiting for the promised visitors. Hempy’s Planet –Inherited Goods, Solutions for Change, California Rare Fruit Growers, Mira Costa Horticulture Club, Encina Wastewater Authority, Green Energy EPC, Citizens Climate Lobby, Trini from Farm Fresh to You, were looking for people that they could pass their environmental messages on to. At other booths, Grammies goodies, My Own Bag – reusable grocery bags, AVBG Plant sale – Ed Fitzgerald, Free Child I.D., Tastefully Simple, and The Vista Democrat Club members Marggie, Kat, Vicki and Mike were also looking for people to talk with.
So then… why the low turnout for Earth Day 2017 at AVBG? Well, I really don’t want to engage in “Trash Talk”, but, I believe we have the giant white bunny and Santa Claus (aka JC Wynn) to blame. Those rascals were holding an “Eggstraganza” in the park just a few hundred yards away from the Botanical Gardens. The nerve of those guys! They spread colored eggs out over an entire athletic field. There was face painting, bean bag tossing, a hula hoop contest, and even an Easter bonnet contest. They gave away bicycles and other prizes. They completely undermined Earth Day. Families that would normally have been attending Earth Day at AVBG were lured away by these two cronies. But then again… that’s just Trash Talk.