Swing by The Mall at Lexington Green and you'll find some fantastic and unexpected items created from recycled wood and aluminum.
The front window at Artique is ablaze with a collection of sparkling, brightly colored pictures that artist Robert Love has made using pieces of aluminum cans in what he calls "recycled brushstrokes." There is a fish assembled in a rainbow of scales, a metallic quilt pattern, a U.S. state map mosaic, and a re-creation of the Beatles' Yellow Submarine. It's hard to believe that Love creates his art from something we normally toss away.
Love has been an art teacher at SCAPA at Bluegrass since 1991. "I grew up in Bowling Green, doing recycling before it was hip, with a dad who was good at crafting things, tearing apart and putting together all kinds of items," he said.
Love also makes wooden people, about 3 feet tall, out of scrap lumber and metal, and gourds. Lately, he has made them playing musical instruments. The pieces sell for about $300. Check out Love's Web site: www.robertloveart.blogspot.com.
Nearby at Joseph-Beth Booksellers, you will find some cool nesting boxes that Bill Gordon of High Adventure Wilderness School in Stanton has made out of scrap, recycled and found wood.
Gordon has distributed almost 6,000 of the boxes, specially designed for various sizes of birds, from chickadees, phoebes and wrens to screech owls, barred owls and woodpeckers. He also makes shelters for bats and flying squirrels. At $19.95, the boxes are flying out of the store. A devoted naturalist, Gordon arranges wilderness programs at his school, and he teaches local students to build nesting boxes. He can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Prison garden needs seeds
You can help supply food to hungry people in Central Kentucky by donating some seeds. Each year, inmates at the Federal Medical Center and Federal Prison Camp on Leestown Road plant a large vegetable and flower garden on prison grounds. They give the produce to God's Pantry and other local food banks and charities around Central Kentucky. Last year, they raised 22,000 pounds of produce.
This season, the prison is seeking donations of all types of vegetable and flower seeds. If you want to help, contact coordinator Stan Glass at (859) 533-0921 for information.
The Bonnie Plants Third Grade Cabbage Program will give a $1,000 educational scholarship to one third- grader in each state. The program is free to third-grade classes.
Bonnie Plants will send 2-inch cabbage plants to every participating school, and teachers will distribute plants with instructions for growing them at home. Teachers pick a class winner based on its size, appearance and maturity, and that winner is entered in a state scholarship drawing.
Last year's Kentucky winner was Sydney Coffey, a student at Georgetown's Anne Mason Elementary.
The 2010 registration deadline is Monday. The form is at www.bonnieplants.com.
Start your seeds
Garden-survey results in recent years have reported an increase in home vegetable gardens. Have you started your own seeds yet for this year's garden? If you're just beginning, tomatoes, peppers and eggplants can be planted now in trays indoors. Doing this project with a friend can save money because you usually end up with more transplants than you can use.
Supplies are easily available at garden centers. Cool-weather-loving seeds that can be planted outside after about mid-March include peas, radishes and leafy greens. Read labels on the packets, and be prepared to cover plants temporarily if a late frost is predicted. Last week, heirloom tomatoes were offered at a local grocery chain for almost $7 a pound, which makes home gardening even more tempting.
This is one way of taking responsibility for growing your own food and encouraging communitywide resources that support local food production, a reversal of our society's trend for the past generation or two.
More complex is figuring out how the vast global food-production systems supporting our lifestyles affect the environment and economy. Can Earth support its growing population and sustain its own viability? A new film, Dirt! The Movie by Bill Benenson and Gene Rosow, will air on PBS stations in April — go to www.ket.org for specific air dates — as part of the Independent Lens series.
The film is not so much about soil teeming with billions of life forms in each spoonful as it is an effort by an international team of environmental activists to point out that some practices deplete natural resources, and to explain the urgency of the need to develop a "greener" food supply.
Another perspective worth reading is the science-based report "Agricultural Productivity Strategies for the Future: Addressing U.S. and Global Challenges," released in January by the non-profit organization Council for Agricultural Science and Technology. It's available for free download at www.cast-science.org.
Both sources recognize a need for action, and they certainly generate possibilities for cultivating awareness and conversation. Meanwhile, plant a garden.