Plants are an important part of our everyday lives. Spend some time taking a closer look at the plants that help us survive by making a field journal of all the plants you encounter. Sketch, take notes, and observe like a plant scientist, known as botanists. Plants provide materials for the places we live in and medicines we might need, but they are also one of the greatest sources of food.
At the Academy:
- Step into the shoes of a botanist by visiting the Naturalist Center on the third floor to inspect plant specimens from the Academy’s collection.
- Visit the Living Roof and observe the densest concentration of native plants in San Francisco with 1.7 million native plants!
- Head to our exhibit, Rainforests of the World, and observe plants that grow in a rainforest environment? How are they similiar or different to those you observed? Is the temperature the same as it was outside on the Living Roof?
- Take a field trip to a local farmers market to find seasonal fruits or vegetables and you can thank the plants and the people who help grow them. You might even have the chance to talk to a local farmer about how different produce grows and learn about the farm where it comes from. Visit California Certified Farmers’ Market to find one in your area.
- Not only can seasonal vegetables be used to cook a delicious meal, they can also make great works of art. Use turnips or brussels sprouts as stamps to decorate paper or make your own vegetable dye paints from red and yellow beets.
Knowing more about plants, and specifically how our food is grown, can help us make choices that are more sustainable for the environment and healthier for ourselves. There are great benefits from buying local. Buying local produce reduces the distance food is transported and often the amount of packaging needed by reducing the amount of fossil fuels burned and carbon emissions emitted into our air. Our food didn’t travel hundreds or even thousands of miles to get to you.
In return, not only are you are helping to protect our environment but you also receive the freshest produce, picked just hours before. Local food may also be more nutritious because it is picked at the peak of ripeness. Fruits and vegetables that travel long distances are picked before they are ripe and lose nutrients the longer they are separated from the plant. In addition, many local farmers grow their crops using organic fertilizers (like composted manure) rather than chemical fertilizers. Organic fertilizers release nutrients in the soil gradually over a period of time, allowing plants to absorb them for longer. Enjoy your trip to your Farmers’ Market in your neighborhood, today.
Learn the top ten reasons to shop at a farmers markets near you.