Students get down to earth

Joe Rubingh

Northern Michigan University’s Environmental Science Organization is hosting Down to Earth Week next Monday through Saturday.

Audrey Menninga, vice president of ESO, said she hopes more people will attend this year because, unlike last year it isn’t on Earth Day, which is during finals week. She encourages everyone to come.

“It’s open to any student,” Menninga said. “The environment transcends through all majors, so we open it up to everyone. Even those that aren’t interested, but just want to know more about it.”

Menninga said ESO puts together events that involve topics they think students should know about.

To kick off Down to Earth Week, the Green Thumb Society, a student organization, will host a plant sale in the New Science Atrium from 4 to 8 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday.

Also on Tuesday, there will be a screening of “Botany of Desire” at 6 p.m. in Jamrich 102. According to PBS’s website, this film by Michael Pollan, which is based on his best-selling book, talks about human’s “desires for sweetness, beauty, intoxication and control with the plants that gratify them, the apple, the tulip, marijuana and the potato.”

At 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday in Jamrich 102, Novella Carpenter will be giving a presentation.

“It will be a combination of a reading from ‘Farm City’ because a lot of people may have the book, but it’s fun to hear the author’s voice,” Carpenter said. “I will also have a slide show of what my farm looks like and how I got involved urban farming.”

Carpenter said he hopes that people who attend will better understand the idea of the potential for urban farming.

“You hear urban farming, but you don’t know what it’s about,” Carpenter said. “It’s going to also be a message of ‘you can do it too’ and do something crazy to see if you like it.

“If you try to do something, you have an idea of what might happen, but there are surprising things that happen along the way.”

Carpenter’s book, “Farm City,” is about how she turned a vacant lot in Oakland, Calif. into a full-blown farm. She went to the University of Washington where she majored in biology and English.

She also studied under Michael Pollan while attending Berkley’s Graduate School of Journalism. To find out more about Carpenter, you can visit her website at

A presentation titled “Biodiesel, Energy Savings, and You” will be given by ESO members Laura Judge, Nick Larson and Ryan Buddin at 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 29 in West Science 2902.

“Half of the presentation will be me talking about how to save energy and using alternative energy,” Judge said.

This year, Down to Earth Week will be dealing a lot with urban farming, Judge said.

“The future is uncertain. So don’t depend on the government for food security, depend on yourself,” Judge said. “You might want to know a bit about urban farming,”

A presentation called “Real Food” will be put on by Amanda O’Farrill at 10 a.m. on Friday, March 30 in West Science 2904.

To end Down to Earth Week, there will be a lichen walk through Wetmore Landing at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 31.

For more information, keep an eye out for posters across campus or an invitation on Facebook.