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Earth Day Program Celebrates Ohio’s Native Plants
Ohio Ag Connection - 04/03/2024

April is native plant month. With Ohio being the first state in America to adopt this designation, it only makes sense that native plants take center stage at the April 22 Earth Day celebration by The Ohio State University’s Environmental Professionals Network (EPN).

Titled “Eat This Earth Day!” the program will take place at the Fawcett Center, 2400 Olentangy River Road on Ohio State’s campus, from 4:45-7:30 p.m. and virtually, worldwide, through an EPN livestream production.

The EPN is a service of the School of Environment and Natural Resources in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

Using native plants for food will take center stage at this year’s event. Held in collaboration with CFAES’ Chadwick Arboretum & Learning Gardens, participants will have an opportunity to learn about the edible flora of the Buckeye state and discover — over long periods of history through the tastes, smells, and eyes of diverse native wildlife and human cultures both ancient and present — how these plants have sustained life.

Headlining the program will be Nancy Linz, a leading actor in the effort to designate by law April as National Native Plant Month in Ohio; Debra Knapke, “The Garden Sage,” who will share how to craft your garden for cultivated foraging; and Brad Lepper, senior archeologist, World Heritage Program, Ohio History Connection, who will present on the food-producing capacity of the ancient, indigenous Hopewell culture.

“The EPN is always thrilled to host our signature Earth Day event, and this year is no exception,” said Joe Campbell, director of the EPN. “Our ability to showcase these plants and leading experts and advocates of native plants for food at our annual celebration is a true gift.”

There will also be opportunities to engage with interactive exhibits and experts from Ohio State University Extension, CFAES’ statewide outreach arm; enjoy drinks prepared from Asimina triloba (American papaw), Acer saccharum (sugar maple), and Vaccinium pallidum (lowbush blueberry); and learn about the 2024 Ohio Native Plants of Distinction.

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