Top navigation


Gleanings from Headline News – May 2020

Pandemic Revives Interest in Locally Grown Food

As COVID-19 confinement set in, many people returned to the basics: planting food and baking bread. No one expected the quarantine to have such a great effect on the availability of vegetable seeds and flour. The Sierra Club explores the start of the new urban food movement from its heyday to our current time as national interest in growing our own food increases. Read The Rebirth of the Food Sovereignty Movement.

Movement Back to the Land in Vermont

On the subject of food and getting back to the land, Valerie Blakely profiles Jon Turner, a military veteran who stumbled into farming after making the difficult transition from military to civilian life. He and his wife currently farm 10 acres in Vermont. Read their inspiring story in


Plant a Victory Garden

Sheltering in place has given people a chance to slow down and become interested in planting their own food. Here is a step-by-step guide to planting your own victory garden – named for food gardens planted during the World Wars – in your own patch of earth. Learn more about planting your own Victory Garden in The Old Farmer’s Almanac.

Researchers Assess Food Production Potential within Urban Green Spaces

Researchers at The University of Sheffield, UK determined that hectares of untilled gardens, overlooked verges, and unused parkland could provide cities with tools to develop a more sustainable and secure food system. Read more in Anthropocene Magazine.

‘Murder Hornets’ in the US

European honeybees and native bees are facing a vicious new threat in the northwestern US and Canada. Murder hornets, aka Asian giant hornets, (Vespa mandarinia) are an invasive insect from Japan that was found in the Northwest in early December. When they attack European honeybees, they can devastate an entire colony in hours. Read about US attempts to halt the insect in New York Times. Watch honeybees fight back in National Geographic. Also, OhioState Universityhelps you distinguish murder hornets from look-alikes, including native species, such as the cicada killer (Sphecius speciousus), which though impressive in size is harmless. And find the Washington State University fact sheet here.

Amazon Rainforest Emitting More CO2 than It Collects

Yale Environment 360 contributor Fred Pearce shares scientific findings from a new study in the Amazon Rainforest that show rainforests across the world have shifted from absorbing carbon to contributing greenhouse gases. This shift could put the temperature goals set in the Paris Agreement unobtainable and make the reforestation of the rainforests more pressing than previously thought. Read more at YaleEnvironment 360.

‘Hummingbird’ Spy Creature Films Millions of Monarchs Taking Flight

The PBS nature series “Spy in the Wild” teamed up with John Downer Productions to film Monarch butterflies at their winter resting refuge in Mexico. Enjoy amazing footage of thousands of Monarchs as they warm their wings and take to the air. With two local butterfly defenders murdered this winter, it becomes even more urgent for the US to include Monarch butterflies on the Endangered Species Act. Learn more and watch the video at Mongabay.

Stop and Notice Insects

Forced to slow down our lives, perhaps we can take time to notice the smaller world around us that has not been affected by the pandemic. Insects are busy as ever living their best lives. “The Joy of Discovering Insects” is Xerces Society’s free weekly webinar Thursday at 10 am Pacific Time or catch the recorded version on their YouTube channel. On May 21, enjoy Tickle Bees: Insights into the Life and Times of Ground Nesting Bees.
After learning all about insects, you can Beesponsible and join the Bumble Bee Watch. Find more here.

Ticks Aren’t Social Distancing

While you’re outside practicing social distancing and planting your veggie seeds or native plants, don’t forget that the mild winter this year has produced a large crop of ticks! Read more about how to protect yourself in ecoRI News.

More Activities for Yourself and Your Kids

Although some public spaces are opening up for visitors, there are still great online offerings for exploring nature. Here are a few you might check out

The Atlanta Botanical Garden offers a literal walk-through of the entire garden.

The San Francisco Botanical Garden has weekly yoga in the garden and weekly garden highlights.

A little farther afield, enjoy a virtual tour of the Kew Gardens in London or various gardens around Paris.

Kids will enjoy activities proposed by The National Botanic Gardens of Ireland and learning about a variety of animals with Creature Features from Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg.

Find a little fun from Cornell Lab of Ornithology, which has introduced a new game called Bird Song Hero. The game teaches your brain to recognize over 50 different bird songs. One silver lining of having to shelter in place is the significant reduction in motorized sounds which makes birds’ songs appear louder and clearer than ever. Give the game a try and challenge your entire family to listen to nature a little more closely.