Earth Day - April 22, 2014
by Jim Gerrish
4/22/14 - I have checked the East Orange City
Websites and calendars for some mention of an Earth Day
celebration, but the only thing scheduled is a library
"craft project for kids" at 2:00 PM, in which Earth Day
is mentioned, but with no hint at how a craft project aimed at a
few children will help in a general public understanding of Earth
Day and its significance. So it seems that I will be all alone in
the city today, trying to get people to spend a few moments
thinking about their relationship with the planet that gives them
life, and a place to pursue happiness and seek liberty.
I cleaned up the Clock Garden at the
intersection of Evergreen Place and Central Avenue and Sanford
Street, as well as the little park/garden in front of the St.
Paul A.M.E. Parking lot.
Problems in the Clock
Garden that the city needs to address: I found several
rodent burrows (inside the yellow circles) in the north west
corner of the Clock Garden, near the damaged electrical box that
has not been repaired since I
first reported it damaged in 2013. I suspect the rodents are
rats since there were food containers among the litter that I
picked up from the site, but that's just a guess.
North of the first problem above are two edging
blocks that are out of place and which need to be reset by
someone with the proper tools. I suspect that a block may need to
be cut to provide a narrow spacer between the two migrating
blocks, but as I had neither the tools nor the agility to do so,
I left it, as is, for the city to repair.
South of the green electrical box in the Clock
Garden was an advertising sign from a Solar company
based in Utah with offices in New Jersey. I didn't know if
they had a permit to advertise in the city garden so I left it
alone. In the past, signs that had received city permits were
stamped by someone from City Hall with dates indicating when they
could be displayed, but since there is no information on-line
about current city rules and regulations concerning posting
signs, I had no way to tell if this was a legitimate posting.
This is a beautiful little
garden that is in front of the St. Paul A.M.E. Parking lot, and
which is sadly neglected by members of the churches in the area,
as well as by those pedestrians who thoughtlessly drop litter and
walk dogs on the grass (and who do not bag or even cover up their
I did not photograph the
main problem in this area, which is the brick sidewalk
next to the entrance to Old Sanford Street. The bricks in that
area (north east of the Stop sign in the photo) are collapsing
into a little sink hole, which is a hazard for pedestrians and
for those who ride tricycles like mine.
No one offered to help pick up litter and no one
asked for brochures, so I just did my thing, gave away no
seedlings, and left both areas clean. Someone did ask me if I
worked for the city, and when I said "No," I was asked
why I was cleaning up the areas. "It's my civic
responsibility," was my answer. "Do you get paid for
doing this?" "No," I answered. But I lied.
My "pay" was the discovery of these
tiny blue and white flowers crawling through a crack in the
concrete boundary of the garden. It was a sermon for Earth Day
such as never has been heard in the St. Paul A.M.E. Church or any
other church in East Orange, I dare say. The lesson was how
mankind tries to confine and control nature with walls, fences,
and borders; and how nature always manages to sneak through in
innocent defiance of man's attempts at control. The reward is
always eternal natural beauty which overshadows man-made
Earth Day is NOT about Global Warming or Climate
Change. It's about a lesson every kitten learns from its mother:
don't take a crap in the place where you live - dig a hole and
cover up your mess. It's about what we learn from watching creepy
crawly things in our gardens - every one of them serves a purpose
in providing us with food, beauty, and oxygen. For more about
what Earth Day IS, see the virtues and quotations from George
Washington Carver below.
This year's East Orange Earth Day celebration
theme (at least from the East Orange Tea
Party and The
Interactive Museum of East Orange), is dedicated to George
Washington Carver. Our annual brochure that I made to pass out to
people on the street contains a very brief biography of Carver,
but you can't condense a man's life and works into a few short
paragraphs. Most people remember Carver as "The Peanut
Guy" but don't know much more about him than that he had
"something to do with peanuts."
Look Beyond the Peanut
GEORGE WASHINGTON CARVER'S 8 CARDINAL VIRTUES
1) Be clean both inside and out.
2) Neither look up to the rich nor down on the poor.
3) Lose, if need be, without squealing.
4) Win without bragging.
5) Always be considerate of women, children, and older
6) Be too brave to lie.
7) Be too generous to cheat.
8) Take your share of the world and let others take
Quotations of George Washington
No individual has any right to come into the world
and go out of it without leaving behind him distinct and
legitimate reasons for having passed through it.
How far you go in life depends on your being tender with
the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with
the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because
someday in your life you will have been all of these.
Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who
have the habit of making excuses.
Fear of something is at the root of hate for others, and
hate within will eventually destroy the hater.
Reading about nature is fine, but if a person walks in
the woods and listens carefully, he can learn more than
what is in books, for they speak with the voice of God.
When our thoughts - which bring actions - are filled with
hate against anyone, Negro or white, we are in a living
hell. That is as real as hell will ever be.
The primary idea in all of my work was to help the farmer
and fill the poor man's empty dinner pail. My idea is to
help the "man farthest down", this is why I
have made every process just as simply as I could, to put
it within his reach.
It is not the style of clothes one wears, neither the
kind of automobile one drives, nor the amount of money
one has in the bank, that counts. These mean nothing. It
is simply service that measures success.
We are brothers, all of us, no matter what race or color
or condition; children of the same Heavenly Father. We
rise together or we fall together.
If I know the answer you can have it for the price of a
postage stamp. The Lord charges me nothing for knowledge,
and I will charge you the same.
Dr. Carver tells the story behind the discovery of the
peanut byproducts. He asked his Great Creator, Dear
Mr. Creator, please tell me what the universe was made
for. The Great Creator answered, You want to
know too much for that little mind of yours. Ask for
something more your size. Then I asked, Dear
Mr. Creator tell me what man was made for. Again
the Great Creator replied, Little man, you are
still asking too much. Cut down the extent of your
request and improve the intent. So then I asked,
Please Mr. Creator will you tell me why the peanut
Nothing is so damaging as ignorance. I dont know,
you say! What reason is there for you not knowing
you have not looked, you have not searched. Study to be
approved of the Great Creator. Be master of things.
Selfishness and self are at the bottom of a lot of
troubles in the world. So many people fail to realize
that serving God and ones fellow-men are the only
worthwhile things in life. It is service that counts.
Source: from ''Koehler's Medicinal-Plants'' 1887
In spite of its name, the peanut is not a nut
but a legume, like the black-eyed pea and soybeans. The strange
way that its above ground flowers develop into the
"fruit" underground is the origin of its other name,
"ground nut." It is native or indigenous to South
America, probably from Paraguay.
You can see the life cycle in the above drawing. After
pollination, the pea-like flower stalk elongates, causing it to
bend until the ovary touches the ground. The stalk continues to
grow downward, pushing the ovary underground where the mature
fruit then develops into a legume (bean) pod that we call the
peanut. For this reason, plant your seedling is a light, crumbly
rather than packing it in a muddy, clay-type soil.
Black-eyed peas are an ancient African crop that
spread from central Africa. Around 1700, slaves brought it to
America. By 1903 George Washington Carver, the famous
African-American agricultural chemist, was promoting black-eyed
peas as excellent food for man or beast and as a plant that
enriched farm soil with nitrogen.
Popular U.S. folk wisdom holds that the tradition of eating
black-eyed peas on New Year's Day started during the Civil War
when Union troops burned Confederate farm fields but considered
cowpeas, as they were called, to be livestock feed and left them
alone. People in the war-torn South might have starved without
the black-eyed peas to sustain them. Ever since, they have been
part of the New Years Day meal for Southern folks as a
symbol of gratitude and hope for a happier new year.
Southern Style Black-Eyed Pea Recipe
4 cups fresh or frozen black-eyed peas
4 -5 slices bacon
1 large onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1. Cook bacon until crisp; set aside to drain on paper towels.
2. In a Dutch Oven, cook onion, celery and garlic in bacon
drippings until tender; add broth, salt, pepper and peas. Bring
to a boil and skim top if necessary.
3. Lower heat to simmer; crumble bacon and add to peas.
4. Adjust seasonings to taste, cover and simmer until peas are
tender (30 minutes to 1 hour depending on how tender you like
The seedlings we were giving away on Earth Day
were grown from Heritage seeds from Heirloom
Solutions. For those who don't know what a Heritage seed is,
you need to know that most of the fruits and vegetables you buy
in modern stores are hybrids. They either have no seeds, or their
seeds will not germinate and grow. Heritage seeds are taken from
non-hybrid sources. If you grow peanuts or black-eyed peas from
our heritage seedlings, save and dry out the seeds (before
cooking or roasting!) and almost every one of them will germinate
and grow into a new plant next year, and on into the future.
This is our brochure for 2014.
Click on the Brochure to
get a printable pdf file.
Photo for Video at Vimeo
For me, Earth Day 2014
ended by giving an Earth Day after school Backyard Magic Show to
neighborhood kids as an Earth Day celebration and "teach
in" on what Earth Day is all about. Earlier in the morning,
I video recorded a rehearsal of one of the tricks, but I took no
videos or photos of the after school backyard show to respect the
privacy of those who attended. I gave away the rest of my seeds
and seedlings to the audience and I hope they will carry Earth
Day around with them as they watch their seedlings grow.