The first week of Earth Month brought about a ceremonial flag raising, joint Earth Month proclamation, tasty local food, a movie about food, and a day to withdraw from it all.
April 1 - Earth Month Kick-off
La Crosse Mayor Matt Harter and County Board member Jai Johnson issue a joint proclamation declaring April to "Earth Month" for both the City and County of La Crosse; winners of the "40 Years of Going Green Together" poster contest are presented their prizes; and the Earth Day flag is raised over the city in several locations.
Three key environmentalist from Wisconsin.
First place poster contest winner, Madeline Cochran - age 15, wins a Gary Fisher bike.
Third place poster contest winner, Zach Servais - age 6, wins a gift certificate from Downtown Mainstreet, Inc. Isn't he the cutest thing you have ever seen? Those dimples!
Spoke card spotted on a bicycle of one of the guests.
The Mayor, County Board Representative and poster contest winners raise the Earth Day flag.
The Earth Day flag flies over the City.
April 5 - Greens, Eggs, and Cheese Gala
The "Greens, Eggs, and Cheese Gala" was a cooking competition between four local restaurants all competing for "best locally grown meal". Each restaurant was required to prepare a salad and main dish using local greens, eggs, and cheese. They were allowed to use other ingredients, but asked to remain as local as possible and also to list the sources for their ingredients. The event also featured local wine and carrot cake made with local ingredients for dessert.
It was a lot of fun! Being the first event of this kind in the area we were quite pleased to reach our goal of 100 attendees. The guests were full of ideas for continuing the event, including hosting one per season! I was just happy to introduce the restaurants to the idea of using local farmers to source their ingredients. Baby steps, people! Let's get them hooked up locally first, then we'll move on to organic, and just when they're comfortable with that then we'll throw seasonal eating at them. I didn't want to overwhelm them before ever getting started. You and I may like to go "whole hog", but sometimes you have to take it slow. If things seem too hard, some people give up before even trying. That's not what I want to happen here!
Overall, I think it was a good experience for both the restaurants participating and the guests who got to sample their local creations. They were quite delicious! After eating, the guests voted for the favorite in the salad and entree categories, the votes were counted, and a winner was announced.
Best salad went to: Nell's City Grill & Catering:
Best entree went to Hackberry's Bistro:
How do you like those Green Whisk awards? I felt like I was presenting an Oscar.
April 8 - FRESH (the movie)
Three days after sampling all that yummy local food, the community was gifted a free-screening of the movie FRESH. FRESH celebrates the farmers, thinkers and business people across America who are re-inventing our food system. Each has witnessed the rapid transformation of our agriculture into an industrial model, and confronted the consequences: food contamination, environmental pollution, depletion of natural resources, and morbid obesity. Forging healthier, sustainable alternatives, they offer a practical vision for a future of our food and our planet.
Among several main characters, FRESH features urban farmer and activist, Will Allen, the recipient of MacArthur’s 2008 Genius Award; sustainable farmer and entrepreneur, Joel Salatin, made famous by Michael Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma; and supermarket owner, David Ball, challenging our Wal-Mart dominated economy.
The movie showed at the public library with about 30 people in attendance. Guests got to snack on organic popcorn and local apple cider during the movie. Honestly, I got more out of watching Food, Inc. (which will be showing this week as part of the Earth Month activities), but I still recommend seeing it. I would describe it as a grassroots-ier version of Food Inc. One of the main characters, Will Allen, is also coming to town this week as part of Earth Month. Tonight in fact! I may be having dinner with him as you read this. So exciting!
April 11 - "Pull the Plug" Day
With all the excitement and activities going on during Earth Month we wanted one day to remind people what it is really all about. "Pull the Plug" Day was dedicated to “unplug yourself” from all the things that distract you from enjoying the simple things in life. Get off the computer and go outside, ride a bike, go for a walk, have a picnic, play fetch with your dog... whatever! Just slow down and unwind. Reconnect with nature, your loved ones, and all they have to offer.
Oddly enough the one event that took no planning at all is the one the media was most interested in. The local papers ran articles and a member of LEWC, Nick Nichols - Sustainability Coordinator for La Crosse County, was on the Joy Cardin show on Wisconsin Public Radio.
HAPPY EARTH MONTH!