By Luke Freeman, NCAT Horticulture Specialist

We are excited to announce that we have two new incubator farmers participating in the Woolsey Incubator Farm program in Fayetteville, AR! Their names are Lucy Capelle and Sandra Wesson, and they have both begun work on their quarter-acre farm plots.

We had a slow start to the season with disruptions from COVID-19 and Cobblestone Farms hiring a new farm manager. However, we have been able to onboard our new farmers in time for them to plant their fall-season crops.

Incubator farm project participant in greenhouse

Incubator farmer Lucy Capelle, at right, with friend Shailer Balton and their little farm helpers.

Lucy Capelle is a gardener who works in Northwest Arkansas’s Marshallese community to encourage health and wellness through gardening, good nutrition, and active lifestyles. She wants to develop her farm business to serve the Marshallese community. She hopes they can buy fresh fruits and vegetables from their own local farmers and revive traditional farming practices from the Marshall Islands.

Lucy grew up helping her father on their coconut, banana, and pumpkin plantations on the Marshall Islands. She helped plant and harvest their crops and also tended to the chickens and pigs they raised.

Lucy has already started her late-season summer crops and fall-season crops in the greenhouse. She will be growing corn, okra, squash, pumpkins, broccoli, cabbage, and fall root crops this year.

Sandra Wesson also has a background in gardening. She is interested in growing her skills to supply organic produce to local restaurants and farmers markets in Northwest Arkansas. She is from Central Arkansas, but recently moved to Fayetteville for work and to be close to her grandchild. In Central Arkansas she was close to market farmers Mary and Rickey Bone of Lighthouse Farms and was inspired by their successful farm business.

Incubator farm project participant stands in field.

Incubator farmer Sandra Wesson preps her plot for fall crops.

Sandra is currently working on preparing her plot for planting, removing the plastic mulch and crop residues from last year.

Events this Fall

We have plans to host two more workshops at Cobblestone on organic vegetable production. We also plan to have project partners lead field trips to the farm this fall. However, our staff are monitoring the COVID-19 situation to determine the most responsible way to use the incubator farm as an educational resource. At this point we are considering the option of allowing farmers to participate in the workshops remotely through video, but we have yet to make the call.

Incubator farm plot

Lucy’s farm plot, getting ready for planting.

Stay tuned on our Facebook page to find out when our workshops will take place and how you can participate.

Project Background and Overview

The Woolsey Incubator Farm Project is complex and ambitious. It wouldn’t be possible without our great partners and supportive community. Our mission is to educate K-12 students and adults of all ages in Northwest Arkansas about sustainable agriculture and environmental conservation. We want to demonstrate how local food systems affect the environment. We also want to highlight the role that sustainable agriculture can play in environmental stewardship. Following is a list of goals we hope to accomplish with the help of our partners.

  • Train and support five incubator farmers as they start and grow their farm businesses.
  • Train farmers and prospective farmers on sustainable agriculture practices. We’ll host a series of four practical skills trainings led by NCAT agriculture specialists at Cobblestone Farms.
  • Educate members of the community on the environmental benefits of wetland prairie and native plants. Illinois River Watershed Partnership (IRWP) will lead a passive restoration of two acres of wetland prairie at the Woolsey Farm. IRWP will then lead a prairie walk at the property. They will also create and post signage on the property to educate the community about how wetland prairie and native plants affect the ecosystem.
  • Educate primary-level students about local agriculture, environmental stewardship, and local food systems through field trips to Cobblestone Farms and the Woolsey Incubator Farm.
  • Educate high school students through field trips to Cobblestone Farms and the Woolsey Incubator Farm.

Creating an incubator farm is key to accomplishing our goals. It will be the home base for our educational activities. We are working closely with the City of Fayetteville to prepare the city-owned historic Woolsey Farm site to house the incubator farm. Once it’s established, we expect the Woolsey Incubator Farm to educate hundreds of farmers, students, and adults for years to come. Cobblestone Farms generously provided plots for our first incubator farmers until the Woolsey Farm property is ready. For more on our activities for this project, see our previous blog post Incubator Farm Project Cultivates Farmers and Community.

More Information

Whether you’re a beginning farmer or have years of experience, check out the ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture website! There are hundreds of resources on sustainable agriculture topics, including publications, videos, online courses, webinars, podcasts, and more. And if you’d like an agriculture specialist to provide a one-on-one consultation, call 1-800-346-9140 or email your questions to

By Victorian Tilley, Energy Programs Assistant

The COVID-19 pandemic has had deep impacts upon Americans. Mandatory closures and physical distancing put many people out of work and required them to stay home. The bills do not stop coming in though. And in the case of energy bills, staying home means using more energy, which results in higher bills. Because many Americans were furloughed or terminated from their jobs, paying those bills became a challenge, if not impossible. In some areas, threats of shutoffs were looming over many families, as well. This created an urgent need for assistance.

Two important sources of such assistance stood ready to help: the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and the National Energy Assistance Referral (NEAR) service, which connects people to their local LIHEAP office. The program experienced a massive influx of assistance requests since the pandemic began.

In April, NEAR received a total of 173,829 assistance requests, a 72.4% increase over the same month in 2019. The LIHEAP Clearinghouse website saw an astounding 651.9% increase in site users from April of 2019 and another 458% increase from May of 2019.

LIHEAP is a federal program that offers energy assistance to households in every state and in most tribal reservations and territories by assisting households with heating and cooling needs. Those in need of assistance may dial the NEAR hotline and receive information on their state’s available programs. The LIHEAP Clearinghouse website also serves as a network of information and resources on low-income energy issues and delivers this information to grantees, which are the state-specific programs that operate under the block grant, subgrantees like local government and community action agencies, and energy service organizations.

NCAT has operated the LIHEAP Clearinghouse and NEAR for some 30 years, assisting 703,241 households and providing referrals to over 1.2 million visitors of the NEAR directory. The common annual trend is that directory contact volume usually increases in the peak seasons, since some need heating assistance in cold climates and others need cooling assistance in warm climates. Since transition between seasons brings milder weather and subsequent reduction in energy bill costs, the first week of April is typically when calls begin to decrease. This year, the program experienced something quite different.

Specialists at NCAT are responsible for taking calls from the NEAR hotline and referring households from all over the country to their respective state programs. One of our specialists reports that many of the calls right now are coming from residents in the southern states, potentially in response to increased cooling needs, but can also be related to socioeconomic factors. Researchers have monitored trends between low-income households and high energy burden, stating that “[e]nergy burden for low-income households is not declining, and it remains persistently high, particularly in the South, in rural America, among minority households, and those with children and elderly residents” (Brown, et al., 2020). Currently, those seeking assistance are seeking relief for accounts currently in arrears and at risk for shut-off, as many still owe on bills from before the extended utility relief provided under the Corona Virus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act.

Under the CARES Act, put in place to address the economic emergency the pandemic brought on, LIHEAP was provided with $900 million in additional funding that will extend the assistance season through August 2020. States now have more resources and a broader scope of how they can assist people. Those seeking assistance can do so quicker and easier than in previous years that had not seen a pandemic. Additionally, utility companies have put moratoriums on disconnections in place, so that a household’s utilities will not be shut off for overdue bills. However, even though their service cannot be shut off, the residents’ accounts are still accruing charges. When the moratoriums eventually end, the program predicts another spike in calls once households are hit with cumulative bills for all their heating or cooling usage.

Visit the LIHEAP Clearinghouse website to learn more about its focus and goals. LIHEAP’s programming operates on a state-by-state basis in order to be specific and uniquely responsive to the needs in each state. Visit the state snapshots to learn more about specific programming. Additionally, you can view the research on trends of low-income energy affordability and opportunities for future policy and programming.

Brown, Marilyn Ann, Anmol Soni, Melissa Voss Lapsa, and Katie Southworth. 2020. Low-Income Energy Affordability: Conclusions From A Literature Review. Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Report No. ORNL/TM-2019/1150. March 31.

By Martin Guerena, Sustainable Agriculture Specialist

During these challenging times, home gardening has become one of the more popular past times for many people. But what about those of us who don’t want to be at the beck and call of an intensive garden while simultaneously wanting to enjoy the beauty and benefits of a beautiful garden?

While gardening vegetables allows some independence from local supermarkets and the extra expense of organic produce, some of us have the convenience of local farmers’ markets and stores that supply healthy organic food even during these times of COVID-19.  I am the type of gardener who appreciates a low garden management/hammock time ratio,  the amount of work it takes to care for vegetables makes me inclined to invest my labor strategically and support my local farmers. Additionally, California has been in a drought for the past 20 years and with climate change, there will be a significant challenge to the future water supply.  Instead of giving up on gardening, I decided to plant native and drought-tolerant plants creating a xeriscape of flowering plants for pollinators and other beneficial insects.

The beauty of the flowering plants is inspiring and contributes to our family’s quality of life, and knowing that they are providing habitat for beneficial insects is satisfying as well.  The plants in my garden are a mixture of resilient perennials and annuals which include: Verbena, Yarrow, various Sages, Blue Flax, Lavender, Telegraph Weed, Gumweed, Ceanothus, Flannel Bush, Penstemon, Sedum, Buckwheat, California fuchsia, California Poppy, Love in a Mist, and native grasses such as deer grass, creeping wild rye, California melic, and purple needlegrass. If you live outside of California you can check resources like the Sunset Western Garden Book and local native plants websites that describe plants suited for your conditions. They may also be a good source for seeds and seedlings.  You may also want to check ATTRA’s A Pictorial Guide to Hedgerow Plants for Beneficial Insects, which characterizes several of the most beneficial hedgerow plant species used in farmscaping for native pollinators, and insect predators and parasites in California. It provides plant names, bloom times, heights, and descriptions that note considerations for selection and establishment.

A layer of woodchip mulch placed around the plants keeps the soil covered and moist reducing the need to weed and irrigate frequently. I start irrigating about a month after the last significant rain in the spring and then every 3 to 4 weeks (with careful species selection, irrigation can be reduced further) until the beginning of the rainy season in late fall.

The insects I see on these flowers include bees, wasps, flies, butterflies, moths, beetles and very tiny wasps that I see swarming and hovering above the flowers. Besides pollinators, many of these insects are predators and parasites of pests. Predatory species include praying mantids, ladybugs, green and brown lacewings, assassin bugs, soldier beetles, minute pirate bug, big-eyed bug, syrphid flies, tachinid flies, parasitic wasps, and spiders.

These beneficial insects require refuge plus a pollen and nectar source to feed and provide the ecosystem services of pest control on various insect pests. My stone fruits and pear trees rarely have any aphids or other insect pests through the season.

In summary, the benefits of drought-tolerant gardens are:

  1. Harnessing of pollinators and beneficial insects.
  2. Attracts other wildlife such as birds and reptiles.
  3. Reduced water use and water bill.
  4. Less maintenance.
  5. Beautiful landscape.

ATTRA Resources

A Message From Steve Thompson, Executive Director

Layered upon the pandemic and a national economic freefall, the murder of George Floyd and so many other Black Americans has sparked frustration, anger and sorrow across the country, not least here at NCAT. The convergence of crises has prompted us to examine our internal culture and the work we do in the world to help build resilient communities that can survive and thrive despite hard times.

We acknowledge that NCAT needs to do more to address the root causes of racial injustice. We stand with those who peacefully protest the continuing American legacy of racism and institutional violence. We pledge to do more to embrace diversity, equity and inclusion in our offices across America.

We are proud that much of our work focuses on serving Black, Native, Latino and Hispanic, Asian-American and refugee communities as well as impoverished Americans of all races. And we will redouble our efforts to serve vulnerable communities so they can strengthen local self-reliance through sustainable food and energy solutions.

Our Gulf States staff is working with diverse partners through the Mississippi Food Justice Collaborative to bring systemic change to the state’s food system.

We recognize that people of color often are those most directly harmed by environmental degradation and by the accelerating disruptions of climate and weather extremes. We will intensify our efforts to build a clean energy economy while helping communities adapt to changes that are baked into the world’s future.

We see that Native and African Americans are especially devastated by COVID-19. We will expand our work to strengthen equitable public health solutions, especially within our areas of strength: Expanding access to healthy food, supporting farmers of color, providing low-income energy assistance, designing healthy and efficient homes, and restoring ecosystems.

Now is a time of social reckoning. We all must heed the call, led by an immense chorus of multi-racial voices, to wake up and adjust course.

The conversations will continue. They may often be tinged with raw emotion. It will not be easy to resist the path of recrimination, resentment and fury. To build a bridge to a better future, we each and together must invest ourselves in kindness and compassion.

Meantime, it’s time to act with a greater commitment to racial, environmental and economic justice. This we pledge to do at NCAT.

By Margo Hale, NCAT Southeast Regional Director and NCAT Livestock Specialist

When the COVID-19 pandemic started, I, like many of you, was focused on working from home while also homeschooling my daughters. I was busy postponing and rescheduling several NCAT training events and figuring out how to best serve our ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture clients. As the pandemic continued to spread, we saw various impacts in all aspects of our life. Across the country, we saw our traditional supply chains falter, and consumer buying habits changed overnight. Thankfully, our household never ran out of toilet paper, but it was several weeks before I could find rice and beans to buy!

Because we raise our own beef, pork, and eggs, I rarely pay attention to those areas of the grocery store, but it was shocking to see empty shelves. We sell only a few beeves and hogs each year, mainly to friends and coworkers. You can learn more about how we sell our beef and pork from this short video While we never have a problem selling what we have available, we also don’t usually have an overwhelming demand. As soon as COVID-19 hit, though, people who have never bought meat from us before began reaching out to see if we were selling meat. They wanted to stock their freezers! I heard from farmers all over the country that this was happening to them, too. This demand is great for producers, but it also comes with some challenges.

Meeting Increased Demand for Local Meat

You might be able to gain new customers during this time, as people are wanting to stock their freezers and prepare for supply-chain disruptions. You want to ensure that these new customers continue purchasing from you even after the grocery stores are restocked. In order to do this, you must provide an excellent product and good customer service. It is tempting to quickly scale up production to take advantage of the demand, but don’t do so at the cost of quality. Don’t process and sell animals that don’t meet your highest quality standards. Providing great customer service is another way to keep customers coming back. NCAT Specialist Dave Scott and his wife Jenny shared some really great tips on providing excellent customer service to their meat customers in the “Direct Marketing Meat” podcast series.

Episode 128. Direct Marketing Meat with Dave and Jenny Scott. Part 1

Episode 129. Direct Marketing Meat with Dave and Jenny Scott. Part 2: Processing

Episode 136. Direct Marketing Meat with Dave and Jenny Scott. Part 3: Relationships

Episode 137. Direct Marketing Meat with Dave and Jenny Scott. Part 4: FAQs

In the ATTRA video COVID-19 Market Adjustments, you can also hear how COVID-19 has affected Dave’s and Jenny’s business, Montana Highland Lamb.

Plan for Processing

Selling meat can be a challenge when processors are overwhelmed by demand.Another challenge many livestock producers are facing is the lack of processing. Access to meat processing facilities has always been a challenge for small-scale livestock producers. The problem has been exacerbated during the pandemic. Producers are increasing production in response to increased demand for direct-to-consumer meat sales—which means there are more animals to process in facilities that already have limited availability. For example, I can usually call just a couple of months in advance to schedule a processing date for our animals; I called our processor in May and the earliest dates they had were in January 2021! Our hog will be awfully big by then. If you are a livestock producer and haven’t already booked your processing appointments for the coming year, I encourage you to call your processor today. I had a great conversation with Rebecca Thistlethwaite with the Niche Meat Processors Assistance Network about these challenges with processing, especially during this time. You can listen to that podcast here.

If you are a livestock producer, there is a great opportunity to meet the demands for locally produced meat, though there will likely be some challenges. If you are selling meat directly to consumers for the first time, expanding production, or have questions related to processing, please know our NCAT Livestock Specialists are here to help. You can contact us by calling 800-346-9140 or emailing

Related ATTRA Resources

Organic and Grass-finished Beef Cattle Production

Direct Marketing Lamb: A Pathway

Direct Marketing

Working with Your Meat Processor

ATTRA COVID-19 Resources

Other Resources on Selling Meat

Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network

NMPAN COVID-19 Resources

Farm to Freezer: The Logistics of Online Sales & Shipping Meat Webinar

The New Livestock Farmer: The Business of Raising and Selling Ethical Meat

Direct to Consumer Beef Webinar Series

Get Ready to Apply for CFAP

The Farm Service Agency (FSA) will begin taking applications for CFAP on May 26. Processing and payments will be made on a first come first served basis, so it will benefit you to do as much preparation as you can!

As a reminder, the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) has $16 billion to help farmers who have lost revenue because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Application starts with Form AD-3114, which may not be even available until May 26. You can keep checking the USDA CFPA Page and/or check with your local FSA Office.

Filing Form AD-3114 starts the process. Once obtained you can file it:

  • In person, when/if available
  • By mail (although this probably puts you further back in line)
  • Electronically by FAX to your local FSA office
  • Electronically by email with scanned or photo-copy of signed form AD-3114
  • On-line directly with a possible computer-fillable Form AD-3114, BUT this method will require an FSA Level 2-eAuthentication account. Many farmers have such accounts, but if you don’t, you can get one at this link: (and you should do so ASAP).

Finally, there will be a payment calculator tool available soon that can help you assess if the CFAP makes sense to you. A video demonstration of the tool is available at this link: video of CFAP payment Calculator.

We are here to help

It’s looking as if this process could be paperwork-heavy, so NCAT ag specialists are here to help. You can always reach out to us for assistance by calling 1-800-346-9140, e-mailing, or by writing in on the live chat at

Photos and text by Nina Prater, NCAT Sustainable Agriculture Specialist

Image at right: Jeremy Prater practicing his shiitake mushroom inoculation skills at the mushroom workshop in Fayetteville, AR.

Last year, the NCAT Southeast office partnered with the University of Missouri’s Agroforestry Center to host a one-day mushroom cultivation workshop in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Gregory Ormsby Mori with the Agroforestry Center provided hands-on instruction, showing multiple ways of growing mushrooms. These included shiitake mushrooms in logs, oyster mushrooms grown on log totems, and wine cap mushrooms grown in a straw/woodchip bed. (Read a re-cap of the event here: My husband Jeremy and I attended the workshop and were inspired to get started right away. We have a livestock farm in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, but we’re always looking for ways to diversify our operation. Mushrooms seemed like a good fit. We manage over 100 acres of forest, a ready source of both material and shady land for mushroom production.

Making a Wine Cap Mushroom Bed

There’s nothing quite like a hands-on workshop to inspire you to dive right into a new project. After the workshop, we went home and ordered spawn for oyster mushrooms, shiitakes, and wine caps. We got the oyster mushroom totems and shiitake logs inoculated last spring, but ran out of time to do the wine caps. We stored the wine cap spawn in the back of the fridge for a year (farmers’ fridges are such interesting places—we also have animal vaccines and pawpaw seeds tucked in the back at the moment).  In early April of this year, we were able to establish a wine cap mushroom bed.

You can watch this short video to see exactly how we made our wine cap mushroom bed. If you prefer a very brief written version, it’s easy: you find a shady spot either within your garden under tall plants, or in a wooded area. First, clear the surface to expose the soil and sprinkle some spawn. Next, start layering your wood chips (hardwood preferably), spawn, fresh straw, then spawn again. Continue that lasagna-like pattern (chips, spawn, straw, spawn) until you run out of spawn. Finally, top it off with wood chips to hold it all down. Soaking your wood chips and straw ahead of time is ideal.

In our video, you can see that we watered the materials as we went, since we were not able to pre-soak. We have followed up on this by making sure we watered the bed well on days it didn’t rain. It’s too early yet to say if we were successful, but I’m already optimistically researching wine cap mushroom recipes.

More on Mushrooms

Mushrooms are a great way to add diversity to your farm operation. On our farm, we’re doing it primarily for our own consumption. But our secondary purpose is as a trial-run to see if it is something we would enjoy doing commercially. To learn more about mushroom cultivation, check out these resources:

ATTRA Publication:

Mushroom Cultivation and Marketing:

ATTRA Podcast:

Introduction to Mycology:

University of Missouri:

Cultivation and Cuisine: Getting Started with Wine Cap Mushrooms, By Hannah Hemmelgarn, University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry:

Call or contact your local Farm Service Agency today!

No, the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) is not food for the nation’s hungry, but rather assistance for the nation’s food producers. Details of how U.S. farmers can apply for this assistance are still scarce, but the most important message is to begin the process ASAP if you are a farmer who has experienced a loss due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Here is a way to contact your local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office which will be implementing this program:

Find your Farm Service Agency office

You must make a phone call to your local FSA office to start the process.

Direct support for farmers and ranchers available via CFAP will include:

  • Direct support based on actual losses because of price and disrupted supply chains.
  • Assist with adjustment and added marketing costs resulting from lost demand and short-term oversupply in the 2020 marketing year.

CFAP is available to farmers regardless of size and market outlet, if they suffered an eligible loss. Disruption to markets and demand may be significant and the USDA is already warning that these payments may only cover a portion of the impacts on farmers and ranchers.


  1. Tax Identification Number: TAX ID
  2. Farming Operating Structure: TYPES
  3. Adjusted Gross Income


  • CCC-901 (Español) If applicable, this certification reports income from farming, ranching, and forestry, for those exceeding the adjusted gross income limitation ($900,000)
  • CCC-941 (Español) Reports your average adjusted gross income for programs where income restrictions apply.
  • CCC-942 If applicable, this certification reports income from farming, ranching, and forestry, for those exceeding the adjusted gross income limitation ($900,000)
  • AD1026 (Español) Ensures compliance with highly erodible land conservation and wetland conservation
  • AD2047 Provides basic customer contact information
  • SF3881 Collects your banking information to allow USDA to make payments to you via direct deposit

As with all emergency assistance, there will be those that are more prepared then others and getting in line as early as possible is to your advantage.

Contact ATTRA for Help

If you need help contact us here at ATTRA as we are always ready to help.

  1. Call our toll-free ATTRA helpline (U.S. only)
    800-346-9140 (English) 8 a.m. to 5 p.m Central Time
    800-411-3222 (Español) 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific Time
  2. Ask online, using the green chat box at the bottom of the ATTRA webpage.
  3. Via email to


By Guy K. Ames, NCAT Horticulture Specialist

In Northwest Arkansas I’m seeing peach leaf curl in my orchard. It’s April, but the calendar date is not as important as the growth stage of the peaches. The professionals call this time “shuck split.” The “shuck,” or the last remnant of the flower, is splitting and falling from the growing young fruit. This is a crucial time for the developing fruit as it is growing rapidly, and this is not a good time for the tree to be stressed. This disease, incited by the fungus Taphrina deformans, causes the leaf to deform and swell irregularly (see photo). As you can imagine, leaf function—primarily photosynthesis and respiration—suffers and the tree is stressed. The more severe the curl (the more leaves are affected), the more stressful it is to the tree.

Managing Peach Leaf Curl

You’re going to want to do something about it, but there’s not much you can do once you see it on your trees other than to remember to spray next year during dormancy. Here’s why. The fungus overwinters in the tiny crevices around the leaf scale (or leaf bud). As soon as the leaf bud begins to swell in the early spring the fungus invades the leaf tissue. That’s right, the fungus is inside the leaf and thus protected from normal fungicide sprays! You should apply sprays of lime-sulfur (the best organic fungicide for this disease) sometime in March before the leaf buds begin to swell. If the trees have gone through severe infection, you can apply once in November when the leaves have fallen and then again in the spring before the new leaves emerge.

Helping an Infected Tree

A tree with a severe infection will sometimes drop all its infected leaves and try to push a new crop of leaves. This is understandably stressful for the tree, so if it happens, the grower could help the tree out by applying a quick release fertilizer of some sort. Organic growers could choose compost tea or fish emulsion. If the infection wasn’t severe (only a small percentage of leaves were infected), then you may need to do nothing. There is only the single infection period, so newly emerging leaves will be safe from T. deformans.

There are a few somewhat resistant varieties, including Clayton, Candor, and Frost, but this resistance is only relative to other more susceptible varieties and often can’t be relied upon for control.

Here’s hoping your leaves aren’t curly!

More Information

Guy shows examples of peach leaf curl and the leaf buds where the fungus overwinters in his video What is Peach Leaf Curl? on ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture’s YouTube channel.

For more on peach diseases, see the ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture publications Peach Diseases Identification Sheet and Peaches: Organic and Low-Spray Production.

Contact Guy and NCAT’s other agriculture specialists by emailing or calling 800-346-9140.

As we celebrate Earth Day 2020, the Earth looks and feels quite different than it normally does. This year marks the 50th celebration of Earth Day and the COVID-19 pandemic, has drastically impacted our physical, social, and economic worlds. Even so, people are banding together and finding a “new normal,” — one that demonstrates resilience. We can still pursue our projects and initiatives, though; we just need to do it differently. And, at least for now, our communication must be virtual.

Energy Corps AmeriCorps members have quickly adapted their service, exemplifying this resilience. Earth Day is an important event, one than typically involves a wide range of events and activities planned and carried out by members. In the face of physical distancing and shelter-in-place orders, members have refocused their efforts to embrace creative virtual opportunities.

For example, Alli Kane, Energy and Climate Educator in Missoula, has taken an artistic approach to increasing awareness and getting people excited about Earth Day. Earth Day Art 4 All is a community art project led by Climate Smart Missoula and Families for a Livable Climate, and anyone with a creative itch can join. Alli encourages people to create Earth Day-related art to display outside their home, such as banners, window art, or sidewalk chalk drawings. Participants can send a photo of their art to and those submissions will be used to produce a virtual art show. The broad theme of this art project is “Healthy People, Healthy Community, Healthy Plant,” but get creative and show your love for our planet in any way you choose. Visit their website for more information.

Robin Adams, Sustainability Coordinator for the City of Red Lodge, is dedicating an entire week to celebrate Earth Day by hosting daily virtual activities and tours. The week’s activities include a Solar Q&A with experts Henry Dykema of Sundance Solar Systems and Andrew Valainis of the Montana Renewable Energy Association; a Critter and Plant Hunt using iNaturalist social networking site; a Beartooth Passive Home Live Tour; and a Community Movie Night. Visit their website to learn how you can get involved.

Red Lodge Schedule

The event schedule for Earth Week in Red Lodge.

Maia Madrid, Electric Vehicle Outreach Coordinator for the Department of Environmental Quality, has created a visual interview graphic series that displays feedback from Electric Vehicle (EV) owners. A part of Maia’s service is to develop this project and provide insight into driving and buying EVs. There are only four car dealerships in Montana that sell EVs and she is working to expand awareness of this sustainable transportation technology. The visual interview project will be launched in honor of Earth Day, and you can check it out on their website.​

charge ahead

An excerpt from the interview graphic series.

Check out these and other virtual events and get involved!

We want to thank Energy Corps and their host-site organizations for so eloquently transitioning regular programming to an online outlet. The motivation, dedication, and creativity displayed by this group is inspirational during these uncertain times. Other organizations are providing opportunities to be involved in the festivities, like the National Park Foundation providing virtual park tours, as well as Earth Day Live events found on the official Earth Day website. What better way to recognize that we, as a collective, can be resilient to hardship and therefore able to collectively revive the health of our planet and its people.