Earth Day event nurtures environmental ideas



by Kelly Deichert

4/29/2011 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala.  -- Going green can be easy and fun in Alabama. Local agencies discussed local environmental efforts Tuesday during an Earth Day exhibition at the Maxwell commissary.

The Alabama Master Gardener Program shares knowledge on all areas of planting, including bugs and fertilizer. "We talk about anything and everything having to do with gardening," said Anita Ward, a master gardener.

The program trains volunteers to educate the public to increase environmental awareness and develop an environmental ethic in the citizens of Alabama.

Ms. Ward said she enjoys gardening and savoring the fruits of her labor. "If you name it, it's growing at my house."

She said it's fairly easy to grow vegetables and herbs in Alabama. "Anything can grow here, as long as you prepare the soil."

A benefit to a home garden is having organically grown vegetables. The master gardener program provides advice on natural pest management, such as planting marigolds to keep aphids from eating tomatoes.

Garland Turner, the base energy specialist and a certified energy manager, helped people make their homes energy efficient.

He recommends using ceiling fans to circulate cool air in summer, as opposed to cranking up the air conditioner.

Also, he suggests changing air vent filters every three months. Since dirty vents cause air conditioners to work harder, clean vents will lower utility bills and save energy.

He also encourages checking doors and windows for drafts, which will drive up air conditioning costs.

Planting trees is another way to keep energy costs low.

The Montgomery Tree Committee aims to beautify the city, clean the air and offer savings on heating and cooling costs through its Take Root program.

"We're replacing the urban canopy one tree at a time," said Dianne Bush, committee president.

Construction throughout Montgomery has reduced the number of trees, something the committee aims to remedy. The group raises money to plant trees, then educates the community about their care.

Ms. Bush also had information on the Alabama rain barrel project, encouraging people to collect rain water for reuse. "We are concerned about conserving water," she said.

By taking steps, the community can reduce energy costs today and preserve the planet for future generations.

For more information

The Montgomery County Extension Service offers assistance by calling 1-800-ALA-GROW.

For information on the master gardener program, visit www.aces.edu.

The Alabama Clean Water Partnership holds rain barrel workshops, and each workshop is $30. Upcoming classes are from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 12 at the Vaughn Road Garden Center and 9 - 11 a.m. May 14 at Old Alabama Town. Visit www.alabamarainbarrelproject.com for information.

To learn more about the Take Root program, visit www.takerootmontgomery.com.