April Showers bring April Flowers

The past two weeks have been a whirlwind of activity and Mike, Sophie and I are in the eye of the storm. We started the month of April by getting down to business. The surveys for the Army Corps of Engineers have been going swimmingly as the weather perked up and the people peeped out of their rainy-weather holes. We have all been working, planning out the rest of the spring program as we’ve all realized we have a little over a month before it’s over. With that, we three put our heads together and locked in our conservation projects, our volunteer opportunities, as well as solidifying the mundane, but necessary, tasks of everyday life. Mike and I met up with Denise Weyer from Shelby Bottoms Park, who has been an incredible asset in getting our Conservation Project up and running. Then Mike met with an avid birder- Ed Schneider, a bird photographer who has traveled the world and is probably the only one more gung-ho about our workshop besides us. Since we both have an interest in birds and wanted to partner up with Shelby Park to facilitate a workshop focused on the impact of humans to birds and vice versa; as well as understanding that birds are integral to developing the richness and diversity of this earth. We have a workshop scheduled at the end of May where we will both be leading a group of homeschool students! I continued to meet with Denise, as Mike met with a man about “Saving the Cumberland”- an initiative to raise awareness surrounding the rising pollution in the Cumberland River through education and research. Mike also had his own volunteer adventure food sorting 7,000 lbs of food for family in needs for the Second Harvest Non-Profit in Nashville. The other Conservation Project that I, Sophie and Mike all have been making moves on is our vermicomposting, or as it’s commonly known: “worm bins.” Worm bins are a self-sustaining composting system that we will be experimenting with as none of us have done it before. Although we have all had experiences in composting, we are interested to see how worm bins would work as it would be self-sustaining, more efficient for a shorter time period given to us, and we get to play with worms! As we are trying to do all of our projects on as little of a budget as possible, kind people, donations, gifts, and friends come in amazingly handy. I was able to scrounge up some a truck, shovel, buckets, a drill, and soil from my boyfriend, who is as manly as he gets. We all have been saving up our compost and once we get the worms, we’ll be all ready to go! In preparation for getting up close and personal with worms, Mike, Sophie and I had the rewarding experience of volunteering with The Nashville Food Project (http://www.thenashvillefoodproject.org/)-. A very inspiring organization, this small group of people plant, harvest, cultivate, prepare and cook meals, then deliver them to various locations throughout Nashville to those in need. It was fun getting dirty in the ground: we helped gardening and stirring the compost. It was even more enjoyable knowing that the people who run The Nashville Food Project clearly care about the love that goes into growing and making healthy, fresh food for the people in need. This gave us some ideas for our little house Garden. Our Garden came into fruition starting with me and Sophie trekking over to haul 50 cinderblocks into a truck and then from the truck to our back lawn. Needless to say we got a work out that day. After that, our kindly neighbor lent us his rotor-tiller, and I, having no prior experience of this strange contraption, researched and learned the ins and outs of the Mantis. I then started it, tilling the ground, at first having a momentary sense of panic rise in me when I realized I had a death machine in my hands. That quickly subsided as I tilled the earth, gaining control and creating a little plot where we will plant our food. The two week whirlwind ended with a visit from our supervisor, Alex, where he was able to observe us in our survey skills and sit down with us to play a solid game of “Munchkin”- probably one of the most addicting, complex, and bizarre games out there (and for full disclosure: I won!). Mike and Sophie got to see Shawn Camp, a country artist who has captivated their hearts, and I got to dance to Elton John singing Tiny Dancer. All in all, the month of April is shaping up to be a promising one. Spring has officially arrived: and with that a fresh new excitement in rounding out our Conservation Projects and visitation surveys! Written by Eva.