Skip to Content

Embrace Earth Day: Infuse Your Life with More Greenery

Working at a rooftop greenhouse at Rollins College has provided me with a distinct perspective on greenery and sustainability. In this exceptional role, I have introduced the concept of “Horticultural Bias” to illustrate how my daily plant interactions have influenced my viewpoint. The juxtaposition of the Orlando skyline with the thriving vegetation in the greenhouse has heightened my awareness of the significance of sustainable decisions for our environment.

Despite my deep connection to green spaces and nature, I acknowledge that not everyone has the same access or ease in incorporating nature into their daily lives. The contrast between my work environment and a traditional office setting sometimes isolates me from others’ experiences.

In anticipation of Earth Day this Monday, I am inspired to share insights on incorporating more greenery into our lives through simple changes that benefit both ourselves and the environment. Studies indicate that spending time in natural surroundings significantly impacts mental health and overall well-being—a truth I have personally experienced.

Consider the remarkable Century agave (Agave americana) near Denning Drive and W. Fairbanks Avenue in Winter Park, currently on the verge of blooming. This magnificent plant symbolizes nature’s endurance and patience, taking a century to reach full bloom. Even within urban settings, we can discover reminders of the beauty and marvels that surround us.

Regardless of your location in Central Florida, there are numerous ways to engage with the natural world. To commemorate Earth Day 2024, here are some local suggestions:

  • Start Small: Introduce houseplants or cultivate a small herb garden to bring greenery into your living space. Opt for sustainability by sourcing pottery or gardening tools from thrift stores this Earth Day. Local nurseries like Palmers Garden and Goods (2611 Corrine Drive, Orlando) and Lukas Nursery (1909 Slavia Road, Oviedo) offer a variety of plants, from vegetable transplants to orchids and native species. Lukas Butterfly Encounter, with its 4,000-square-foot conservatory teeming with native butterflies, is a delightful local attraction.
  • Explore Your Community: Discover local parks, nature reserves, or community gardens where you can immerse yourself in nature and potentially volunteer. Mead Gardens (1300 S. Denning Drive, Winter Park) and Blue Springs (2100 W. French Avenue, Orange City) are ideal destinations, particularly during the spring and summer seasons. Embrace the beauty of our local landscape and unwind by the natural spring waters with your family on Earth Day.
  • Support Local Farmers: Visit farmer’s markets to purchase fresh, locally grown produce and support small-scale farmers and the environment. The Winter Park Farmers’ Market (150 N. New England Avenue, Winter Park) on Saturdays offers a chance to shop sustainably, reduce carbon footprints, and explore the enchanting Rose Garden in Central Park.
  • Educate Yourself: Delve into native plant species and biodiversity to deepen your understanding of the ecosystem and inspire conservation efforts. A scenic drive or hike along the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive is renowned for exceptional bird sightings, with informative markers aiding in species identification.

By embracing these straightforward recommendations, we can all contribute to a greener, more sustainable future. Let’s celebrate Earth Day by reconnecting with nature and appreciating the beauty that surrounds us in Central Florida. Together, we can nurture a healthier planet for generations to come while enhancing our mental well-being.

Zari St Jean serves as the Greenhouse Coordinator at Rollins College and is pursuing certification as a horticulturist.