In honor of Earth Day 2017, the stok team got our hands in some…earth! We met up with a group of middle schoolers from Seven Tepees Youth Program at a local permaculture farm for an action-packed afternoon of composting, planting, and harvesting. Our harvest was put to good use as toppings for pizza, which we cooked right in the garden in a traditional outdoor clay oven.
With a curriculum organized by Sprout Up, a free environmental education program for public school children, we were able to not only do some gardening, but also teach the kids about the importance of sustainable, self-sufficient systems and community impact.
Here are five lessons we took away from our day at the urban farm.
1. Nature is beautiful and supports intelligent design
As we roamed through the garden, we saw firsthand how a diverse and intelligently designed system can be both highly effective and visually stunning. We bring this philosophy to our building projects, and it was a delight to encounter even more nature-inspired design in use throughout the garden—a bench that doubled as a worm compost bin and a shaded pond where minnows performed effective pest control.
2. The ethics of permaculture apply to business
Permaculture is rooted in the principals of Earth Care, Human Care, and Return to Abundance. These ethics resonate with us because they align with our own core company values. By embedding these principals into our operations, we’ve dramatically increased stok’s productivity and impact by actively valuing environmental and social progress through our work and self-sufficient, autonomous structure. Applying the ethics of permaculture to your business will help optimize your organization’s productivity, employee engagement, and company purpose.
3. Apathy can be overcome
If you haven’t spent time with middle schoolers recently, they can be a tough crowd. Initially the students were a bit “too cool” for the garden. But when given some ownership over the outcome, their resistance faded. They became engrossed in their work and asked questions, wanting to learn more about what they were planting, harvesting, and eating. As adults, we know that we’re not all that different. To engage those around us, involvement is always more effective than a lecture.
4. Diversity is surprising, resilient, and infinite
During our tour of the garden, we tasted exotic sounding plants like nasturtium and mulberries. We learned that these delectable fruits, vegetables, and flowers have all but disappeared from our diet because as crops, they don’t stand up to the rigors of transportation and storage that today’s food system demands. It was a good reminder that alternative systems can yield exceptional results.
5. Everybody loves pizza
It’s the simple things, isn’t it? After spending the afternoon harvesting kale, broccolini, onions, and fresh herbs and flowers, everyone was excited to bring our efforts together to make a tasty meal. Watching our pizzas cook in a matter of minutes in an outdoor clay oven was a delicious reward for our work in the garden, and the perfect way to tie together our farming activities and permaculture lesson while fostering a sense of community.
We know we said five takeaways, but we have one final lesson that’s too important to leave out.
6. Every day is Earth Day
Though stok always organizes a company volunteering event around Earth Day—from performing energy, water, and waste audits at a local high school, to working with a first grade class to transform vacant land into San Francisco’s second official campsite—we truly believe in celebrating, restoring, and learning from the powerful systems that make up our incredible home every single day. We hope you too make Earth Day not just your favorite holiday, but a driving force behind your ideas and actions every day of the year.