Winona residents celebrate Earth Day


Arbor Day celebration, farmer’s market promote community engagement

Winona residents visit tables, stands and pick up seedlings donated by the Winona State University Landscape Arboretum at the annual Earth and Arbor Day celebration on Saturday, April 22. (Photo by Nikko Aries)
Winona residents visit tables, stands and pick up seedlings donated by the Winona State University Landscape Arboretum at the annual Earth and Arbor Day celebration on Saturday, April 22. (Photo by Nikko Aries)

Michaela Gaffke / Winonan

People carrying seedling trees and shrubs in garbage bags bobbed up and down as they walked from table to table at Winona’s Earth and Arbor Day celebration on April 22, at the East End Recreation Center.

This year’s event theme was “Trees Supporting Bees (and their friends),” which focused on learning about selecting trees that support pollinators and why they help with backyard gardens and food production.

Approximately 1,000 seedlings were given out by the Winona State University Landscape Arboretum as part of the celebration last Saturday. People were free to take as many seedlings as they wanted, according to Shannon Leahy, a sophomore at Winona State.

Each seedling included directions for each tree type, to help people learn about the different fruit trees, pine trees or shrubs and to ensure their proper care.

“Winona is more beautiful and enjoyable by planting greenery instead of seeing all these buildings,” Leahy said.

Winona resident Vicki Englich was carrying a seedling that she plans to plant in her “urban farm,” which also includes cherry trees and a curry bush.

“I believe in raising consciousness of suitability and good stewardship,” Englich said.

She participated in the first Earth and Arbor Day Celebration in 1970, and has gone every year since.

Winona residents of all ages mingled, talking to vendors at each of the numerous tables. Attendees could arrive by car or by bike, with a closed off bike section and bike valet parking.

Some of the attractions at the event included handmade jewelry tables, a tie-dye clothing stand, a paint the rock stand and pop tab jewelry making.

There were also stands from the Winona Area Pollinators, No Frac Sand Mining and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services that shared information on how to live a more sustainable life.

At the other half of the recreation center’s outdoor setup, the Winona Farmer’s Market set up tables to sell their products. Canned and fresh fruits, vegetables, potted plants, baked goods, honey products and soaps were for sale from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Some Winona Farmer’s Market regulars, including the O’Neill Family Farm, Earth Be Glad Chicken Farm, Stockton Trout Farm, Suncrest Gardens and B & E Honey Bee Products were in attendance.

Simple Soaps for Simple Folks, from Dover, Minn., had a table with a display of goat milk soaps, lip butter and lotion bars.

Owner Shanna McCann hand makes each product from milk from her goats. A pound and a half of goat milk goes into a batch of 24 to 26 bars. That means each four ounce bar has one ounce of goat milk in it.

Some of the soap bars offered were traditionally-shaped, but others were shaped like goats, chickens and other designs, which McCann creates with soap molds.

“I am a long time vendor of the Winona Farmer’s Market,” McCann said. “I am a huge fan of Earth Day.”

A few tables over from McCann was Whitewater Gardens Farm, from Altura, Minn., where owner Lonny Dietz and his wife Sandy were selling sweet potatoes, carrot cake, lettuce and other fresh produce.

Winona resident Karla Seidel bought sweet potatoes from Dietz, which she uses to make sweet potato soup.

“It’s local, fresh, organic and it is nice knowing the farmers,” Seidel said. “We talk, exchange recipes and it makes shopping a social occasion.”

The Farmer’s Market has variety that cannot be found in stores, according to Dietz. The prices are also comparable, he added.

“It’s great to see everyone come out. It really is a social event,” Dietz said. “You don’t see talking and hugging like this in the aisles of grocery stores.”

These farmers’ products will be available to purchase at the Winona Farmer’s Market every Saturday morning from 7:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. starting May 6 in the Midtown Foods parking lot.

After the Farmer’s Market ended, attendees were invited to join Meditation with Manitou Center, Yoga with Infinity Wellness and a chalk event called “Chalk On!” before the Earth and Arbor Day Celebration ended with a community bike ride to plant trees downtown.