By Susan Ksiezopolski
Take heart, winter’s claws are loosening, our trees buds are braving the weather, peeping out, and our flower beds are preparing themselves to bloom. All in alignment ready to celebrate Earth Day which will be observed on April 22nd this year. Earth Day is a global event, to call us all to pay attention to our environment. The theme for 2023 is “Invest in the Planet”. When we provide better care for our Earth this in turn has a direct impact on our emotional, mental wellness and our physical health.
Incorporating earth-based activities in our daily routines and our creative practise is important. Being in nature makes us feel better and also contributes to health by reducing our stress hormones, lowering our blood pressure, and improving our overall mood. When we layer this with creative. Joshua Creek, along with the surrounding Oakville countryside, was created by erosion as the glacier that once filled Lake Iroquois—the precursor to Lake Ontario—moved and melted.
For Joshua Creek Heritage Arts Centre, part of our mission and vision is to protect our natural resources on our property for our current and future generations. In support of our conservation pillar, we have nature-based programs that derive their inspiration from our flower gardens and picturesque tree lined property. For example, at our Wednesday morning Print Making Workshops we use art and nature, infusing plant-based organics with our creative processes to produce nature-based art. Our flower beds provide colourful array to spark the imagination. Our diverse collection of native plant species not only provides a beautiful backdrop to practise our photography skills, but they also liven up watercolour canvases at our watercolour press workshops.
Our labyrinth, a Native Prairie, a grasslands ecosystem, is a prefect natural setting to support us in quieting our minds, feeling into our body and granting ourselves a much-needed respite from the daily goings on of a busy life. Native prairies, grasslands, represent one of the earth’s major biomes and, historically at least, are one of the most productive and diverse terrestrial ecosystems. A unique landscape and an ecosystem that supports species like monarch butterflies and the milkweed that they rely on during their long migrations to and from Mexico.
In Southern Ontario, tallgrass once covered approximately 1,000 square kilometres. Most tallgrass communities have been lost over the past 200 years due to human use of the land for agriculture and urbanization. One of the negative effects this has had on native prairies is the reduction of milkweed within them. These plants are the only food source for monarch caterpillars. The Monarch population is down 90% from where they were at in 1992. Our labyrinth contributes to the protection of these pollinators. In addition we also support our bee pollinators. In keeping with the commitment to Conservation, we have partnered with local beekeepers to provide them space to harvest honey and tend to the bees which contribute to the growth of trees, flowers and plants, allowing a diverse number of different plant species to co-exist.
The bees also provide an ecological balance by contributing to the well-being of other animal and plant species. This diversity is important for the protection of our environment.
Our garden plots are yet another opportunity for our members to get in touch with nature, support protection of our environment and nurture their own mental health via their green thumbs. Regenerative gardening works with nature to build the health of the soil and the local ecosystem. This helps to reduce carbon inputs, increases the storage of carbon in the soil, builds habitat, and incorporated plant diversity, all of which can make a difference to global warming.
From our nature-based workshops, to our labyrinth, our bee hives and our gardens, all of these varied activities allow us to provide opportunities for education and enjoyment of the environment. Building time to be in touch with nature, is not only good for the environment, but also soothing for our mental and emotional well-being.