Organic Parks May Day Celebration

My name is Katrina Blair, and I am the founder of Turtle Lake Refuge here in Durango, Colorado. And the mission of Turtle Lake Refuge is to celebrate the connection between personal health and wildlands. I guess I could say I’m part of a task force, the organic parks task force, and that’s with a few people, some staff with the parks and rec department and a few of the community members. And so we’ve been working through just ways to open up more organic parks in our town. So, an organic park means it’s managed without chemical fertilizers and herbicides. Bee Happy Lands, which is a project through Turtle Lake Refuge. We have an organic weed mitigation project and we’re actually the city has hired us to manage two of the organic parks. So the way our methods work is we manually remove the weeds and sprinkle seeds, compost and mulch anytime we might disturb an area. So we’re encouraging more grass. And then we apply compost tea and another soil amendment called a bio-dynamic weed remedy that we make locally. And that encourages the grass to grow and encourages the health of the soil. And then really disencourages the pioneer plants from getting a hold, getting established. And then the city manages the other organic parks and they use, I guess, organically certified products to manage it. And then the city also aerates the soil and waters and overseeds some of these standard practices that just help the grass and the lawn be healthy. Now this year, Rotary Park has been added to the organic parks list. And it’s a huge celebration because we’ve been asking for that park, in particular, to be on the organics park list for over 13 years. So it’s, it was a big celebration for that to happen. And I just really want to thank the city and commend everyone with parks and recreation who helped have that happen, you know who was, who were willing to make change. So this last Saturday, which was May 1st, was the 12th annual Dandelion Festival but the 13th year. So it was a huge celebration to honor organic parks in the world. Really it’s organic land stewardship is the focus of why we have the Dandelion Festival and it’s it was a particularly big celebration because Rotary Park with this was the first year it was part of the organic parks in Durango. So that was a huge celebration. So on May 1st, we had a maypole dance, which is a Beltane tradition of honoring the fertility of the land, and lot of beautiful live music and incredible local food and Carver’s Brewery brewed and a dandelion and thistle beer for the event. And there was educational activities, and a lot of kids activities, a magic show and a hula dance and lots of vendors. So it was a big fun party. You can go visit our website, which is turtlelakerefuge.org. And we talk about our Bee Happy Lands practices and how we manage lands organically. You can also organic parks of Durango. It’s a Facebook page and there’s information that’s posted on that pretty regularly. Those are two great ways. Bee Happy Lands is managing Needham Elementary School Park and Brookside Park organically. And we invite the community participation in helping us manage it. And that would be learning about the edible medicinal plants that would be growing around or in that park. And we’ll be harvesting them as well as spreading seeds. And so it would be a social and educational time of helping being an activist to support organic parks and Durango too. And if you’re interested on those dates, the city will be posting them on their website and Turtle Lake Refuge will be posting them on our website so that we can invite more participation.

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