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Posted by Sayward Rebhal | G+ | Jun 18, 2012

5 Earth-Friendly Ways to Celebrate the Summer Solstice

Make it an event; make a whole day of it! Promise to make it a recurring adventure.

Summer flowers and produce abound right around summer solstice. (Photo: Morguefile.com)The summer solstice is the longest day of the entire year, the day that offers the very most light, and thus the shortest night. Summer solstice also marks the first official day of summer, and in the norther hemisphere, this year, it falls on June 20, at 7:09 PM (according to The Old Farmer's Almanac).

The brightest day of the year is recognized all across the world. For as long as there have been people organizing themselves into cultures, for almost every region and religion, there is a solstice celebration. And now, in this modern world, in the middle of your local concrete jungle and in the center of your busy life, you can take a moment to honor the changing of the seasons in a way which says “I love you, Earth!” You could . . .

1. Ride your bike to the farmers market.

Or walk, or take public transit, or . . . well you get the idea. The Farmers Market is a great ways to engage in your community, by supporting the local economy, by connecting to your food source, by getting out there and experiencing your fellow city dwellers. Farmers Markets are so much more than “outdoor grocery stores” – they’re meeting places, playgrounds for children, date destinations for young lovers, center stage for street performers, and of course, they’re all about enjoying the amazing regional harvest. For instance, the Downtown Orlando Farmer's Market offers not just local produce, but also crafts made by local Orlando carpenters and artisans.

A special solstice trip to the market may include shopping, playing, picnicking, and of course, planning out how best to use the beautiful produce you purchase. Make it an event; make a whole day of it! Promise to make it a recurring adventure.

2. Plant a fruit-bearing tree (or bush).

Trees are an amazing gift, to the earth and to all its inhabitants. For one, they provide beauty, by cheering up the cityscape and reminding us that life is all around us. But they also serve a practical purpose, converting CO2 into fresh, breathable oxygen. And not only that, but they actually remove toxic pollutants from the atmosphere. Yes, plants are literally little living air filters.

The fruit is just an added bonus – a friendly offering for your neighborhood and flowers to nourish local bee populations. Apples or avocados, cherries or cherimoyas, it all depends on where you live.

3. Make flower seed balls.

Yes, you read that right. Seed balls are iconic in the “guerilla gardening” movement. And they are exactly what they sound like – small homemade projectiles meant for dispersing seeds across the urban landscape.

To make your seed balls, simply mix 4 parts clay soil (also called potter’s powder) with 1 part compost. Add enough water so that they’ll bind together, then a liberal sprinkling of your flower seeds of choice. Roll the mixture into small spheres, allow it to dry, and then spend your solstice running around town, dropping seed balls on abandoned lots, overgrown fields, public parks, highway medians, center dividers on city streets, and anywhere else you deem fit for a flowering.

4. Plant a garden.

No matter where you live, you can manage to grow some of your own food. Lucky enough to have a house? Then build some beds in the back (or front!) yard. Prefer the ease of condo life? No problem, a patio can accommodate a variety of pots and boxes. Living in a small apartment or shared situation? A bit tougher, but still doable. Just set up a few small herbs on a sunny windowsill.

No matter where you live you can find a spot for a microfarm. Raised beds are great for all sorts of fruits and veggies. Pots are perfect for tomatoes, cucumbers, cilantro, and peppers. And even the smallest windowsill can seat basil, parsley, oregano, or thyme. Just give it a try. There’s nothing – nothing – “greener” than growing your own food.

5. Get out in nature.

The start of summer is a perfect opportunity to connect with this amazing spinning sphere beneath our feet. Take a hike, find a forest trail, plan a weekend camping trip, or even just stroll through a quiet neighborhood park. There’s something so calming about getting away from the hustle and bustle, slowing down and looking around, experiencing the natural world. So try to take advantage of wherever you may live.

However you choose to celebrate the summer solstice during the day, do try to end it with watching the sunset. Reflect on the exquisite balance of the natural world – darkness and light, coldness and warmth, barren and abundant. Take it all in. Say a little blessing. Because we’re all pretty lucky to be here, ya know?

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