Sunday, April 6, 2014

Earth Day at the Junction

No, it's not really Earth Day, but there was a free Earth Day event called "Earth Day at the Junction" today anyway. It was in Valley Junction, a few miles from our house.

Valley Junction is this cute little area of West Des Moines with funky, unique street shops that sell everything from fudge to costumes. The kids and I have been to Green Grounds Cafe with the Des Moines MOMS Club group. It appears to be just this tiny little coffee house that serves mostly natural & organic products (and fair trade coffee). When you walk back for seating, the place really opens up. It's huge! There's even a stage for events, and a little play area with toys for kids.

When we arrived in Valley Junction, we couldn't find the event. I'd just assumed it was on the street. As I drove down 5th Street, we finally spotted a single tent with bird handlers and owls. We pulled in by the tent and went to check out the owls. We saw a lot of people walking out of the nearby community center, so we decided to pop in there. That's where many of the Earth Day at the Junction vendors were!

At the very first station, Oliver got to make a bug puppet. The volunteers helped cut pieces and staple everything together, but Oliver got to make the eyes and decorate. 

I talked with a woman about home efficiency stuff, and Andrew went to check out some herbs. He got us a self-watering basil plant. Oliver got to make a guerrilla gardening seed bomb. He flattened out some earthen clay, filled it with compost and native seeds, and then they helped him roll it up into a ball. When it dries, it becomes fairly brittle. They told us that people take these and throw them on the ground near old, abandoned industrial sites. The idea is that the native grasses will start to grow there again.

When we finished up at the community center, we were directed to Green Grounds Cafe down the street. Apparently, there were more booths set up there. We walked in and spotted a fisheries station. He talked a bit about clean runoff water, and Oliver got to make a picture of a trout. They had a 3D trout, and Oliver spread paint on it, placed a piece of paper over it, and rubbed it to get the image of the fish on his paper. Jo was so excited about it, so she made a trout painting, too.

I enjoyed the Sierra Club booth. They gave me information on local parks, and they also told me about the weekly hikes they take starting in the spring (more information here). Both ladies at the booth insisted it's OK to bring little kids along on the hikes, so I think we're going to check it out one week soon! They also have a kite flying day on April 19, and I think that might be a big hit with our kiddos.

Our family had a great time at Earth Day at the Junction. It wasn't too grandiose, and the little activities were perfect for their age. In addition to what's pictured here, they also got a spin a wheel for a prize, and they got to plant marigolds in a cup to take home. It's no surprise that Jo liked planting with the dirt the best.

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