Growing a New Generation
By Katherine Matuszak | Photos Courtesy of MEarth
On a field trip to MEarth, many elementary school students experience something entirely new: the feeling of soil between their fingers and the sun on their backs as they dig up a potato or separate an ear of corn from its stalk. Many of these children think food just comes from a grocery store, and for them, this is the first “lightbulb moment” of the day.
“Many of these students say they’re absolutely trying new fruits and vegetables for the first time,” Roos explains. “A majority of kids say they want to replicate these recipes at home. We send home recipe sheets, or sometimes even excess produce for their families.” By reconnecting kids with nature, MEarth hopes to foster in them a love for the planet, which can lead to a desire for sustainability. This program alone would be an invaluable resource for the community, but MEarth’s contributions don’t stop there.
Named after the concept that each of us are fundamental in protecting our planet, MEarth is an environmental education nonprofit organization working to grow a new generation of environmental leaders. For nearly 15 years, its facility has thrived on a 10-acre protected piece of land called the Hilton Bialek Habitat, garnering national recognition as a model education center. Through MEarth’s various programs, students from Carmel and all of Monterey County have hands-on learning opportunities on important environmental issues such as habitat destruction, invasive species, pollution, and overconsumption.
For 2018 and beyond, MEarth hopes to expand more deliberately into adult and family programming. Roos shares the organization’s hopes for parent-child weekend programs and higher-end workshops for adults, featuring a range of topics such as how to grow your own edible garden and local habitats.
MEarth connects with locals through community-based events throughout the year. Its most popular event, the Sustainable Chef Dinner Series, features notable chefs from the community and sells out quickly.
On April 21, MEarth will host an open house event for Earth Day. It will include 35 to 40 exhibitors focusing on different aspects of sustainability, live music, organic plants for sale, and more. In September, it will host its annual, two-day Glass Pumpkin Patch of Carmel, which should go on your calendar immediately
For those interested in getting involved with MEarth, there are always volunteer opportunities available. “There are lots of different ways for people with different skill sets and talents to support the work,” says Roos. MEarth’s volunteer coordinator is available to work with volunteers’ schedules and skills and help them dig in.