Earth Day is Monday, April 22. It’s a great time to celebrate and teach our children the importance of preserving our planet’s resources. There are plenty of ways to observe the occasion here in Marin and the Bay Area, and we've created a list of local events that either celebrate Earth Day or help families learn about nature and the planet.
Earth Day with the Insect Discovery Lab at the Mill Valley Library Friday, April 19, 3:30-4:30 pm
Celebrate Earth Day with amazing rainforest insects, millipedes, walking sticks, and more! Meet and touch live insects and find out why they are so important to our environment. For age 5 and up. No sign-up needed. For more info, call 415-389-4292 x4741.
Earth Day at Richardson Bay Audubon Center & Sanctuary Saturday, April 20, 9 am–1 pm Celebrate Earth Day by bringing your family and friends for a morning of naturalist led explorations, bird watching, restoration and clean-up. Learn about our bay and bird conservation and our importance in the Pacific Flyway. Even the wildflowers should be out in full force to brighten the day! Activities are appropriate for all ages, including young children. Children 10 and under must be accompanied by an adult.
Mrs. T's Mill Valley Beautification Day
Saturday, April 20, 9 am–noon All ages and ability levels are welcome to come and help with the beautification projects all over Mill Valley. You can help make Mill Valley both clean and green by participating in litter brigades and beautification projects at area parks, schools, and designated locations around town.
Novato Clean & Green Day 2013
Saturday, April 20, 9 am-1 pm
Bring the family and celebrate Earth Day by cleaning up our beautiful town. Help remove litter from streets, bike path, parks, creek banks and more. Some supplies will be provided. Location: Meet at Scottsdale Pond Gazebo
Earth Day at Bloomfield Farms U-Pick
Saturday and Sunday, April 20 and 21, 10 am–2 pm
It's a special Earth Day edition of U-Pick! Come to Bloomfield Farms in western Sonoma County where you and your family can pick your own certified organic produce, including dinosaur kale, lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, artichokes, and more! This Eath Day weekend, kids can take part in bee-related arts and crafts, and plant their own veggie start to take home! $30 for large box of produce; cash only. RSVP to email@example.com.
Earth Day is right around the corner, so why not help the planet by creating a craft using recycled and re-used materials as well as plants? Kids have a blast creating their own miniature gardens with this easy-to-make terrarium craft. It's fun to create your own world in a glass container and decorate it with found materials. This project is great for all ages, with adult supervision, of course.
The creative possibilities for this project are endless—make a fairy garden, a prehistoric forest, a jungle, or just let your imagination run wild. You can pick up plants suitable for a terrarium at your local garden store. Mosses, succulents, and air plants are all great candidates for a terrarium.
Decorate your terrarium with interesting rocks and plastic animals, dinosaurs, or figures—whatever you have on hand. Keep it moist with spray bottle filled with water. You can put a cover on your terrarium if you want, but make sure to poke holes in the lid first to let air circulate.
This spring and summer, experience some of Marin's natural wonders at the spectacular Martin Griffin Preserve. Run by Audubon Canyon Ranch, Martin Griffin Preserve is a 1,000-acre preserve near Stinson Beach and Bolinas that's home to one of the West Coast's most important nesting sites for Great Egrets. These large and majestic wading birds nest in the redwood trees that surround the preserve, and can be observed every year from mid-March through mid-July.
While on our last visit the birds still hadn't arrived yet (they're due there any day now), there's still plenty for families to do. It's a fun place to spend a Saturday or Sunday, and you'll find hiking trails, scenic overlooks and observation points, ponds, a display hall, a bird hide, a picnic area, and plenty of enthusiastic and knowledgable volunteers who are happy to help children and parents and answer questions.
This time of year always has a way of making us long for the warm days of spring and summer. And of course with those thoughts of warm months come dreams of our spring and summer vegetable garden!
For the last couple of years, we've really made an effort to put in a substantial vegetable garden in our backyard. The children love to help pick out the seeds, plant them, water the plants, and pick the vegetables (and eat them, too), so it's a fun, educational, and tasty, experience for them. While last summer's cooler than normal weather made for mixed results, we had enough success to make us want to do it all over again this year.
Our first task of the season is always to go get our seeds. We always go the heirloom route—they're so much more fun than your plain old (ahem) garden variety vegetables—and we buy our seeds at the Petaluma Seed Bank, the West Coast outpost of the fantastic Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds in Mansfield, Missouri. They stock a vast array of seeds for a wide variety of vegetables, many of which you probably didn't know existed.
In case you're not familiar with heirloom vegetables, they're the old-fashioned types, usually at least 50 years old, that have been handed down from generation to generation, and exist not because they are easy to grow or look perfect, but because they taste great! Baker Creek's seeds are also all natural, open-pollinated, and non-GMO, so they're good for your family and the environment.
Our friends at Bloomfield Farms, a family-run certified organic farm outside Petaluma, are offering a great winter CSA special! Sign up for 24 shares (boxes) of their amazing organic produce and get six for free. Bloomfield Farms offers two convenient pick-up locations for Marin families: the Tiburon Tavern in Tiburon and Marin Country Mart in Larkspur, as well as numerous location in Sonoma County.
Boxes run $20 to $35 depending on size, and include goodies like lettuce, potatoes, kale, and broccoli. Learn more about Bloomfield Farms' CSA program here, or sign up online on Farmigo if you're ready to subscribe.
This special CSA offer is valid only until midnight on Sunday, February 24!
CSA stands for "Community Supported Agriculture," and by buying your veggies this way you get great healthy food for your family, help support a local farming family, and help build a healthy and vibrant local food system.
While many think of heading out to Point Reyes for whale watching in the winter, it's also possible to get a glimpse of another fascinating aquatic creature in Marin County: the coho salmon. Winter, from approximately late November through February, is spawning season for the endangered coho salmon, and West Marin's Lagunitas Creek is home to one of the largest populations of wild coho in California. There are several places along the creek where you can view these magnificent fish on their final journey upstream.
January is one of the best times to go look for coho in Lagunitas Creek, especially a few days after a rainstorm. Salmon can range in size from two to three feet, and the spawning males turn a bright red color and develop a hooked upper jaw called a "kype." Spawning female coho are a darker, more muted red with a white tail. Salmon fresh from the Pacific which haven't yet developed their spawning colors are a gray or olive color. You may also see steelhead trout in the creek; both male and female steelheads are silver with black-spotted backs and pink stripe down the side.
Coho salmon spend the majority of their lives in the Pacific Ocean, but travel back to the freshwater streams where they were born to spawn. After spawning, the adult salmon die and the life cycle begins again. Young coho hatch in the fresh water, where they live for about a year until they make their trip downstream to the ocean.
As December draws to a close and the New Year begins, the time comes bid farewell to your Christmas tree. It's a sad but inevitable fact of life that your tree has to go at some point, unless of course you have an artificial Christmas tree, in which case you can probably stop reading right here.
Fortunately, your local disposal agency is usually more than happy to take your dried out old Noble Fir off your hands and do the green thing with the tree by recycling it. If for some reason you can't leave your tree out by the curb with your yard waste, you can drop it off at a number of different locations, including most fire houses, throughout Marin County.
Keep in mind that you need to remove all ornaments, lights, tinsel, and plastic tree bags from the tree before you put it out for pick up. (Don't forget to remove metal or plastic stands, too.)
Here's a rundown of Christmas tree disposal details for communities in Marin:
For Larkspur, Greenbrae, Kentfield, Las Gallinas Valley, Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Fairfax, and Ross Valley (Sleepy Hollow and Oak Manor): Trees will be collected at the curb on your regular yard waste pickup day during the month of January. If trees are greater than 6 feet in length, please cut them in half. Remove all metal stands, plastic tree bags, and ornaments. Flocked trees will not be accepted.
Marin Sanitary customers may drop off up to two Christmas trees during the month of January at the Marin Resource Recovery Center at 565 Jacoby Street in San Rafael. Drop-off is free, but a fee will be charged for flocked trees.
Mill Valley Refuse
For Almonte, Alto, Belvedere, Corte Madera, Mill Valley, Homestead, Strawberry, and Tiburon: Place trees along curb on any regular green can collection day, starting the week after New Year’s. Trees must be cut in five-foot lengths. Flocked trees are OK. Trees put out by garbage cans will not be picked up.
This holiday season, why not give the gift of fresh organic produce? This Christmas, our friends at Bloomfield Farms, a family-run certified organic farm outside Petaluma, are offering CSA gift certificates for you to give to family, friends, and colleagues. It's the perfect gift for a family that enjoys delicious, healthy, and locally grown food!
Bloomfield Farms is also offering an "80 for 80" holiday special—80 pounds of certified organic, dry-farmed Yukon Gold potatoes for $80. Yes, this is a large amount of potatoes, but the price is much lower than what you'll pay at a market like Whole Foods for the same thing (Bloomfield Farms supplies Whole Foods in addition to a number of other local grocery stores).
Go in with friends and neighbors and split up a bag! After all, it wouldn't be the holidays without mashed potatoes, would it?
This easy craft project is so much fun to make, and the finished product looks fantastic, especially when lit with a flickering candle. Best of all, you can make them using materials from your recycling bin! These Halloween pumpkin votives are simple to make, and are a perfect craft project for all ages, with parental supervision, of course. My first-grade daughter and I created the pair of jack-o-lanterns lanterns shown here.
This project is a little messy, so make sure you have a good work area that's easy to clean up. You can also create variations on this craft: use white tissue to make ghost lanterns, and green to make monsters.
To make this project, you'll need:
Glass jars from the recycling bin
Orange tissue paper, cut into 1- to 2-inch squares