Art by River Hawkins

Earth Day Cometh

Beyond Toxics focuses on food justice, among other local events

In Eugene it sometimes feels like every day is Earth Day, with our focus on environmentalism. 

Then again, on a national and global scale — from the Environmental Protection Agency getting weak on polluters under Donald Trump to the ongoing threat of climate change — this city isn’t making a dent. 

Luckily, the area is full of people and groups who persist in efforts to make the world greener and more just.

Earth Day is April 22, but local environmental advocacy group Beyond Toxics is calling attention to the Earth and social justice with a week of events. According to Ana Molina, the group’s environmental justice community liaison, the focus this year is on food justice and connections to the land. 

She says All Hands on Land kicks off 10 am Saturday, April 20, with a “pollinator garden work party” at the Churchill Community Garden, which will involve “getting our hands in the soil.” The project is in conjunction with Huerto de la Familia, which provides opportunities and training in organic agriculture and business creation to families in Eugene and Springfield. The Churchill garden serves Latinx and underserved community members who grow the food their families need. Beyond Toxics will provide tools, gloves, instructions and light refreshment.

Molina says All Hands on Land is about how “when we are connected to the land, we have more respect for it and are grounded in the work we are doing.”

The week also features talks, a movie on Earth Day itself and an “environmental justice tree walk.” On April 23 there will be “Food Justice and Seed Sovereignty” panel at the University of Oregon. The panel features Xavier L. Lara, who was born in Guerrero, Mexico, and worked as a farm worker throughout the Pacific Northwest. He is now an organic farmer growing medicinal plants, vegetables and mushrooms. The other speaker is Marissa Zarate, executive director of Huerto de la Familia.

The week wraps up April 26 with a garden work party and potluck at the historic Mims House, making sure the garden is a food-growing space as part of the week’s food justice focus, Molina says.

Also celebrating Earth Day this week is the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane County with its popular annual Metamorphose Earth Day Celebration. St. Vinnie’s will host a fashion show, upcycled art and vendors at the Lane Events Center. 

Other Earth Day events on the weekend as well as on the day itself, from tree plantings with Friends of Trees to the Cottage Grove Earth Day Celebration, can be found in Eugene Weekly’s What’s Happening Calendar.

Molina says of the Beyond Toxics events, “It’s a whole jam-packed week of events where we see our shared connections and shared forms of resistance when it comes to taking care of the land and environment.”

Beyond Toxics’ pollinator garden work party is 10 am-1 pm, Saturday, April 20, at Churchill Community Garden, 2200 Bailey Hill Road. The environmental justice tree walk is 4 pm Monday, April 22 at Roosevelt Boulevard and Fergus Avenue. “Food Justice and Seed Sovereignty” is 6:30 pm, Tuesday, April 23, in EMU 119, the Diamond Lake Room at the UO. The garden work party and potluck is 3 pm, Friday, April 26, at the historic Mims House, 330 High Street. St. Vinnie’s Metamorphose Earth Day Celebration starts 11 am, April 20, at the Lane Events Center with a suggested donation of $2-$5 per person or $10-$15 per family.