Welcome to Green Spiral Tours:

adventure maps

& field trips

designed to help you

fall in love with your place on the planet.

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Field trips spiral the calendar,

 and are one-of-a-kind,

off-the-beaten track adventures.

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Typically a $10 per family donation

is requested as a donation

by the trip leader.

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2010-09-22 Citygarden Rainbow Umbrella Arch

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Founded by nature teacher

Jessie Hoagland in 2008,

Green Spiral Tours offers a way

to supercharge your learning about

the eco-system of Saint Louis,

in the company of curious

and like-minded others.

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Feb 2018 marks the beginning of

Year Nine

for Green Spiral Tours.

While families remain the central focus,

everyone is welcome on all adventures at any time.

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We have lots of grandparents, nannies,

architects, landscapers, home-schoolers

and yoga teachers on

any given adventure.

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To find out about the next adventure,

join the Green Spiral invitation list

by submitting the form below.

Emails come out about once per month,

or when inspiration and synchronicity

strike.

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The emails are fun and educational —

they give you the bigger picture,

while the field trips bring big ideas

down to practice.

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Lots of people are inspired to follow along

with their own adventures,

at their own pace,

and on their own time.

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2012-05-12 Thies Farms Frog

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Unplug, play with your city

and get connected

to nature and each other.

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Scroll down to see where we’ve been,

and to collect ideas about where you can go

on your own.

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2016 Best Photo

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Or!

Buy Green Spiral Adventure Maps

on Amazon.com

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Urban Wild on Amazon 2017-12-26

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And because “less is more,”

keep a sharp eye out for Green Spiral emails,

and know that your email address

will never be sold or shared.

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Let the Wild Rumpus Begin!

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2019-Aug-09

STL Fed 2019-02-26 WEB

The famous economist Milton Friedman once said “There’s no such thing as a free lunch” — and yet the Economy Museum is free.

Of course it’s paid for by your tax dollars and run by the Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis. The St. Louis Fed is famous for its presentation of data, so it comes as no surprise that the Economy Museum would be award-winning as well, but why this tour remains a hidden gem is still a bit of a mystery.

Plaza

Located on Broadway within walking distance of the Arch, this is a good field trip for older students who have jobs and are beginning to learn about money, debt and the economy.  You might want to open a checking account and credit card in conjunction with visiting the Economy Museum, as a thought.

It’s best to create a small group learning experience, so bring a few friends, or perhaps another family or two.  Park on the street near the museum, and make your way through the security check-point, after which you will be ushered into an introductory lobby with short video. Plan on spending about 30 minutes inside the museum, depending on the interest and engagement level of the young people. The visit is a short and sweet self-guided trip, with interactive exhibits.

Inside the Economy

Be sure to play the BUY-SELL game located in the middle of the room, which mimics action on the stock trading floor. It’s super fun and why you need to bring a few friends with you.

Get your picture taken with the giant Lincoln penny in the middle of the room. The photographer regrets the lack of teenager to show you the scale. The penny is quite large.

Penny

Towards the end of the exhibit, be sure to find the short video on the wall that illustrates how everything gets better over time, when viewed through the lens of data.

Except for WWI, which experienced a huge dip in all things, the data shows that all things get better with time; a comforting message for today’s world.

Data 2019-03-18 COLOR

After exiting the exhibit, you will enter a small gift store where you can pick up free shredded money.  As a special treat for hungry teenagers, Sugar-Fire BBQ is a three minute walk around the corner.  The Blues Museum is located adjacent to Sugar-Fire and is also an excellent destination, making for a perfect teenage trifecta stay-cation.

2017-01-21 Blues Museum

Check the schedule before you go, as the Economy Museum is open only during office hours and not on weekends.  The “dog days of summer”, when it’s too hot to do anything else, is the perfect time to go.

Here are your links to the Economy Museum, to Sugar-Fire and to the Blues Museum.

Here’s the link to FRED, possibly the most trusted economic data in the world.

And here’s the GPS to the Economy Museum at the Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis:

One Federal Reserve Plaza; 63102 – (Locust & Broadway)

Log Date: 2019-May-28

Fly Away 2019-05-15 COLOR

Saint Louis is a magical world for children and a wonderful place to grow up. This map invokes formative childhood memories of Saint Louis and celebrates teenage touchstones and interests.

♥♥♥

Turns out, Saint Louis has invented a lot of teen-friendly foods.  First you make the map, and then the map tells you what you see.  You never know what that might be!

Here’s the story guide that goes along with the “Fly Away Home” map:

Fly Away Home Story JPG

Loyal fans and followers are welcome to download and printout the story and map for personal use.  If you’d like a small poster, there is a limited number available at The Nook, a gift and gathering space in Ladue that benefits St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

Nook Advert 2019-05-28 WEW JPG

You can also be the first to buy these adorable pillows from Zazzle and send your student off with hugs from home.

The pillows are 16″ x 12″ and have the “Fly Away Home” image on the front plus a quote from our great poet T.S. Eliot on the back: “The end is where we start from.”

 

Pillow from Zazzle -1

Pillow from Zazzle -2

Here’s the link for the pillows, they are priced at around $30.

Fly Away Home Graduation Pillows

♥♥♥

It’s fun to watch Saint Louis fall in love with itself, and if you’re like me, or Ferris Bueller, you know that life moves pretty fast, and you have to stop and look around once in a while. If you don’t you just might miss it.  #FlyAwayHome

 

Updated: 2019-05-10BlueBells 2019-05-10 COLOR

This is an enchanting “hike” that travels down into a cool hollow and thus back through geologic time; your target is a field of bluebells, juxtaposed against miniature train tracks.

Tracks

A charming creek meanders along the trail, and the profusion of wildflowers, mixed with the brilliant new green of spring has a shimmering ethereal effect.  You will travel through an IBA, an “Important Bird Area” as designated by the Audubon Society, and birdsong will fill the air.  Go around Tax Time to see the bluebells, or go around Mother’s Day when songbirds are migrating. See if you can find some woodland faeries.

Hand Close Up

This is an asphalt trail, with no restroom facilities, so wear good tennis shoes and bring water, plus a snack.  It’s 1.5 miles to the turn-around spot; expect to be gone for about two hours, due to the meandering and the uphill return.  Athletes, large dogs and teenagers will have no problem with this hike, but children, small dogs, and stroller families might find the return trip a bit difficult.  As you proceed, keep calculating your endurance for the return uphill trek.  Cell service is not dependable. Consider bringing the macro lens for your camera, or perhaps a bird book or Missouri wildflower book.

Birds of Missouri

Start at Ridge Meadows Elementary and park on the permeable pavement.  The Rock Hollow Trail begins around the corner and descends quickly downhill; it’s 2.3 miles to the river.  Start listening for songbirds at the first meadow, and notice the many creeks joining Hamilton Creek.  See if you can spy the hidden tree fort, or the hawk’s nest through the trees.  Below is a typical map you will find, which is why I made the special magical map for you, above. Again, the photos and maps don’t begin to capture the spirit of this magical place, and they don’t tell you when to go.

Rock Hollow Signage

 

“Rocks Make the Place” and the sedimentary rock you’re looking at is Dolomite Limestone layered with sandstone.  Enjoy the five finger maidenhair ferns and the walking ferns which grow directly on the rocks.  The first upright flower you are likely to see is Rose Verbena.  As you travel further, crossing several wooden bridges, little blue flowers called Blue Eyed Mary will appear.  These native flowers are uncommon, native to the area, and are on the “do not touch” list.  Their presence indicate that the area has never been disturbed.

Blue-eyed Mary

Look for mile markers on each bridge and stop to read the interpretive signs.  As you reach mile marker D, you are approaching the IBA and will hear the loud symphony of bird song.  Massive magical bluebell fields and miniature train track begin to appear around mile marker G.  This would be a good turn-around spot from either starting place.

Mile Marker

 

Watch out for mountain bikes as bike trails begin to crisscross the path in this area; check out GORCTrails.com for the best mountain biking maps.  If you want to walk your dog, there is a charming creek walk at Rockwoods Reservation near the nature center, which might be a better place due to the many bikes.

Signage with Lucy

Come back another day for a family biking trip. Start at the bottom of the trail at the Al Foster Trailhead near the miniature railroad, knowing about the extra mile along the Meramec River.  You will park at the railroad and travel past a wetlands and dry cactus glade before turning gently uphill to find the bluebell fields making for a 4 or 5 mile trip total.  This makes for a nice first family bike ride, as the trail is fairly open and flat, and your trip back to the car is all downhill.  Send me a photo of your family bike ride and I’ll publish it on this blog!

Railroad Crossing

Of course if you have preschool kids, you must do the Wabash Frisco and Pacific miniature railroad first!  It operates on Sundays only and costs $4.  Many others have written about that.

20-July-2018

Blog by Angela Wildermuth, Nature Guide and creator of Urban Wild Adventures

2018-07-20 Wild Blackberries

Some brambles of wild blackberries were discovered along Grants Trail in south county last week.  GPS Directions: Park at the parking lot at 3900 Reavis Barracks Rd – this is the “Gravois Greenway” parking lot. Head north on grants trail for maybe 1/4 of a mile. Look for blackberries along the left hand side.

The Blackberries had thorns – lots! The kids quickly learned how to carefully and slowly go in for a pick. Along the way we also discovered ripe wild grapes! The leaves were slightly sour but tender, and the grapes had the same sweetish-sourish flavor with crunchy little seeds inside.  How cool to see grapes in their non-cultivated, non- altered “original” form! They are tiny!!!

2018-07-20 Stepper Helper

Stepping stools were very handy. On arrival to the blackberry brambles, we soon realized that the animals and birds aren’t the only ones we needed to beat to the berries  – other humans knew about these berries too! One older man was there with scratches along his arms who said he’d been picking at this spot for 70 yrs!  Luckily, he left some low berries for the kids to pick.

We were out for about an hour. The sun was pretty low so it wasn’t too hot, and everyone felt satisfied with a little loot and an educationally good time too. Next July -keep your eyes open! There always seems to be something edible fruiting in the summer!

2018-07-20 Angela eats grapes

What you can do:

Keep your eyes open and be curious about wild edibles.

Follow Angela at Urban Wild Adventures for future adventures.

Ask your Parks and Recreation Department to plant edibles like plum trees, blackberries, herbs and wild grapes.  Inquire about spraying and herbicide policies.

Buy our book, Urban Wild Adventures, which includes ten adventure maps to ten popular parks in Saint Louis, along with clues about where to find native edibles. The book is curated by Angela Wildermuth and illustrated by Jessie Hoagland.  Angela’s last name means “Wild Spirit” in German.

 

Scouting Mission: 295
Log Date: June 2018

Surprisingly, bunnies don’t like to be picked up, cuddled, or even petted.  That’s what you learn when you go to the “Bunny Expo” and talk with Joy, the “Bunny Whisperer”.

2018-06-03 Joy Bunny

This event is held on the first weekend of June because that’s when the cute little “Easter Bunnies” reach puberty, and start to get a little feisty.  It’s important to get baby bunnies fixed, especially boy bunnies, who become fierce, leap into the air, do a 180-degree twist, and spray everything inside your house.

2018-06-03 Solo Siamese Bunny

The way to pat a bunny is to stroke it gently on the forehead, just between the ears.  The dominant bunny is the bunny lowest to the ground, so putting your hand under a bunny’s chin means YOU are the top bunny, and that’s an insult.  Stroking the bunny’s forehead between the ears makes that bunny feel like a Queen, so always stroke a bunny on the forehead if you want to be friends.

2018-06-03 Cinnamon Bunny

Rabbits are prey animals; they like to stay on the ground and they don’t like to be picked up.  These are domesticated animals, properly called “House Rabbits”, because they belong indoors, not outside in cages.  Behind cats and dogs, bunnies are the #3 animal dumped onto city streets, and lots of bunnies are dumped into city parks all over the country with the mistaken belief they can fend for themselves.  They can’t.

2018-06-03 Bunny Spa

Saint Louis has the biggest bunny rescue organization in the nation, called “The Bunny House”, operated by the House Rabbit Society of Missouri, located in Fenton.  The Bunny House organizes “The Bunny Expo” at the Humane Society each year to encourage people to learn all about bunnies, and get young bunnies fixed. The Bunny Expo includes a spa, a vet visit, nail trimming, and an expo with photo booth and merchandise. There are lots of bunnies for adoption, which you get to stroke between the ears.

2018-06-03 Himalayan Duo

Once bunnies are fixed, they quickly learn to use the litter box. Bunnies can live a long time, up to twenty years, and they need a fairly large pen.  Owning a bunny is a significant relationship and a big responsibility, and the people at the Bunny Expo love their bunnies. Think twice before bringing a cute baby bunny home for Easter, and be sure to do your homework by visiting the Bunny Expo first. Or, just bring kids to The Bunny Expo for a bunny adventure, where they can learn all about how to pat the bunny.

2018-06-03 Bunny Expo-1

Things you can do:

  1. Visit the Bunny Expo in June at the Humane Society on Macklind.
  2. Pat bunnies between the ears to make them feel like the King or Queen.
  3. Help fund the Bunny House with a donation http://www.hrsmostl.org/
  4. Share what you learn with family and friends

2018-06-03 Humane SocietyEnd.

Berry Good 2018-05-22 COLOR252

Strawberries are the first berries to ripen each year; they are the leaders of the berry world, followed by raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and again, late summer raspberries.  Strawberries arrange themselves in the shape of a heart, and serve as a reminder to stay sweet, and always lead from the heart.

2014-05-31 strawberry heart

Start watching the weather on Mother’s Day, and plan on picking strawberries around Memorial Day, or as soon as school lets out. Strawberries need sunshine in order to ripen, but when it gets hot, the berry picking window begins to close fast. May is a busy month, but don’t let your kids grow up without picking strawberries because of that. Skip school or take the whole kindergarten classroom with you if you have to.

Strawberry picking will stain your knees, so wear old clothing, duck boots and bring sun protection, hand sanitizer and water. See if you can find a toad under the leaves, and look around for bees. Picking strawberries teaches a reverence for the land, while catching toads teaches empathy.  Look around for workers in the fields.

2012-05-12 Thies Farms Toad

It’s easy to pick far too many berries, so to protect your afternoon nap, work backwards from a recipe before heading out into the fields. Think: strawberry smoothies, strawberry shortcake, chocolate dipped strawberries, and strawberry jam.  Freezer jam is easy to make, and is an excellent gift for teachers, family and friends. Finding strawberry jam in your freezer is like opening a bottle of summer sunshine on a cold winter’s day.

Many families are worried about kids eating “dirty” strawberries in the fields. Weirdly, the dirtiest strawberries are the ones in the grocery stores, from customers “fingering” the fruit. Farmers want you to pay for your fruit, but farmers also understand the importance of growing happy new customers. So enjoy watching that toddler’s first taste of strawberry in the sunshine, and take lots of pictures.

2012-05-12 Thies Farms Saoirse

Millennials know that strawberries are #1 on the “Dirty Dozen” list, and local farmers are responding to that wish for organic strawberries. Ask lots of questions and take the “Strawberry Challenge” up a level, by growing strawberries at home. Or find organic berries at your farmers market, by showing up early and looking for the longest line.

2013-05-25 strawberries landscape

Arrange your sweet heart in the shape of the “Strawberry Leader”, and be the one who takes kids into the strawberry fields. Help cultivate a good food culture while embedding memories that last not only a lifetime, but arc across the generations. You’ll be glad you did.

2018 Babb Blueberries

Below are destinations that have been field tested by Green Spiral adventure families, in alphabetical order:

Babb Blueberry Farm in Beufort – If you miss the chance to pick strawberries in May, you can pick blueberries later in June. Blueberry picking is perfect for inter-generational groups, as there is no bending over for the elders, nor “too high” fruit frustration for the youngers.  Babb Blueberry Farm uses organic fertilizers, and no pesticides or herbicides. They also sell frozen blueberries and homemade jam. Located one hour west from the Arch along I-44, this is a small family operation with nice restrooms, a fishing pond and excellent hospitality. Bring a picnic lunch.  Or, stop in Eureka, Pacific or at the Junie Moon Cafe in Union along the way. They keep up on their Facebook posts, but always call before you go.  GPS: 2751 Highway 50, Beaufort, MO 63013 * (636) 667-1171

#BerryBikeRide – Annual Strawberry Bike Ride sponsored by Trailnet, ending with a strawberry festival in Saint Jacobs, Illinois, located about 40 minutes east from the Arch.

Eckert’s Farm in Belleville – The grandmother of all U-pick farms, Eckert’s is a seventh generation business, and the largest PYO orchard in the country,  offering U-pick strawberries, blackberries, peaches, apples and pumpkins. This is a full blown agri-tourism operation, with a restaurant, store, concerts, festivals, pony rides, cooking classes and all sorts of things to do. They also offer school tours and operate four other farm destinations. Because Eckert’s is a mature business, they always answer their phones, monitor social media sites and keep their web-pages updated. Look for their online recipes.   GPS: 951 S. Green Mount Road, Belleville, IL 62220 *(800) 745-0513 or (618) 233-0513

EarthDance Organic Farm School – watch for EarthDance Farm in Ferguson to add U-Pick Strawberries soon. EarthDance is one of the most remarkable organic farm schools in the country. GPS: 233 S Dade Ave, Ferguson, MO 63135 * 314-521-1006

Farmers Markets of Saint Louis – Strawberries are popular items and sell out quickly.  If you want to find local organic strawberries, just show up early at your favorite farmers market, and look for the longest line. There is no apostrophe in Farmers Markets, because it is literally a market for farmers, plural.  Farmers Markets are business incubators, and at the core, farming is a business. If you want to support small farmers, and the local food movement, head for your local farmers market. Farmers Markets are the “Mothers” of any local food ecosystem, and strawberries are their favorite little darlings.

Grocery Stores – Most organic strawberries in local grocery stores are grown  in California. Sometimes you can find Thies Farm strawberries — look around and ask your grocer about local strawberries.  Beware of food from other countries, which have different protections for workers and from pesticides. There is a big discussion in the food community about organic foods versus local foods, so feel free to join in, as there are many right answers. Don’t swap berries between cartons, as it’s not healthy for other customers, plus, it’s rude. “Fingering the fruit” is why clamshell containers were recently invented, and it’s a surprise to learn that strawberries in the fields are cleaner than grocery store strawberries, for this exact reason.

Hermans in Saint Charles – for blackberries, peaches, apples and pumpkins. GPS: 3663 N. Hwy 94, St. Charles, MO 63301 * (636) 925-9969

Lakeview Farms near St. Peters – This is a tiny farm that is easy to miss, sandwiched between suburban neighborhood tracts. Sign up for the Lakeview Farms e-mail list, or follow the “Strawberry Report” on their simple web-site. They also send out a postcard each Spring.  Always call the morning of your trip; Farmer Karl answers on his cell phone in the fields. There are no porta potties so plan accordingly. When you get there, pick up a box, and you will be directed to a specific row to pick, marked between two flags.  For an extra fee, kids can prospect for gold and other treasures in the nearby creek. This is an especially nice location to pick raspberries later in the season. Fritz’s Ice Cream is located nearby on Hwy K, past Feise Rd GPS: 8265 Mexico Road; St. Peters 63376 * (636) 978-8830 (Farmer Karl)   Special Note: Be careful! Your GPS wants to divert you to a similarly named farm nearby. Stay in St. Peters.

Missouri Botanical Gardens – Visit the vegetable gardens, specifically the raspberry patch in early summer, to see how it’s done. The Kemper Center will help you with any questions, or you can call the hotline any morning before noon at (314) 577-5143 or send them an email at plantinformation@mobot.org

Ozark Berry Farm ===>>> field trip!

Thies Farm – The Thies family has been farming in Missouri since 1885 and now has three locations.   The three different locations makes the web-site, Fb and phones a little confusing. You can ask about strawberry picking on their Facebook Page, but it’s better to call and ask about field conditions before heading out. By the way, the way to pronounce Thies Farm is like this: “TEES Farm”.

The North Hanley location is the oldest and the smallest, with toddler swings and spinning tractor tires, perfectly sized for very young children.  It’s located near the airport, so you get to watch planes drop down in preparation for landing AND pick strawberries at the same time, which is super exciting for young children. Typically open only on Saturdays, this is a good destination for your very first strawberry picking trip. For older kids, come back later in the summer for blackberry picking and peaches. Watch out for thorns on the blackberries. You can also pick your own flowers. There is a small store, with porta-potties on site.  GPS: 4215 North Hanley Road, 63121 * (314) 429 – 5506 *  

The Maryland Heights operation, located near Creve Coeur Lake, is the largest Thies Farm, offering strawberry picking, a playground, a larger retail operation, and tractor rides into the fields on weekends, a highlight for kids. Thies strawberries are not organic, but Thies does practice IPM (Integrated Pest Management), crop rotation, and drip irrigation. Be careful with your GPS, as the road used to be named Creve Coeur Road and recently changed names to Maryland Heights Expressway. Again, always call before you go.  Farming is exhausting work, and it’s hard for farmers to find the time to do the work AND keep up with web-sites and social media. Maryland Heights GPS: 3120 Maryland Heights Expressway; 63146 * (314) 469-7559 *

The Thies Farm St. Charles location is a new retail operation, located along the Katy Trail; it sells plants, produce and specialty items, like grass fed beef, harvest pies and quail eggs.  GPS: 3200 Greens Bottom Road St. Charles, MO 63304 * (636) 447-2230 *  

Wind Ridge Farms in New Melle – This family farm offers wagon rides for kids and blueberry, blackberry and peach picking. It’s a bit of a drive from Saint Louis, but well worth it, especially if you are looking for peaches or blueberries. Located one hour west of the Arch, along 40/64 just past Weldon Springs.  GPS: 3511 Highway F, New Melle 63341 * (636) 828-5900

The End

Many people are surprised to discover an organic farm in Ferguson, and not just any organic farm, but one of the most successful organic farm schools in the Heartland.

2011-06-09 Health Soil Sign

Welcome to EarthDance Farms, located on the site of the old Mueller Farm, the oldest organic farm west of the Mississippi. The Mueller family used to farm with mules and ladybugs, and continued to do so long after industrialized farming became the norm. Here’s a photo of EarthDance in 2011.

2011-06-09 Earthdance table

EarthDance was started by Molly Rockamann as a non-profit after Mrs. Mueller passed away.  Molly grew up in Saint Louis, went off to California to attend the “Harvard” of organic farm programs at the University of California in Santa Cruz, and returned to the Mueller Farm in 2008 to start a farm school.  Here’s Molly in 2011.

2011-06-09 Molly & young farmers

EarthDance is not just growing food, they’re growing a food culture along with a new crop of organic farmers each year.  Farmers in the apprentice program are called “Farmies”. A vast number of people, apprentices, customers, interns, staff and volunteers make EarthDance go.  They’re also an incubator for lots of local food entrepreneurs.  Ten years after Molly started EarthDance, it is now a bustling community with barns, pavilions and hoop houses.

2018-05-02 EarthDance Barn

The ways to connect with EarthDance are many, the programs are robust, and the offerings are top-notch.  Which you can check out here:   http://earthdancefarms.org/

Green Spiral likes to visit EarthDance often, follow EarthDance on field trips to other farms, and attend lectures when thought leaders come to town. Here we are on a private tour for the annual “Healthy Happy Hour” in May.

2018-05-02 Party Van

 

You can join a free tour of EarthDance any Saturday by jumping on the “Jolly Trolley” at the Ferguson Farmer’s Market.  Details here: http://earthdancefarms.org/community/farm-tours-field-trips/

Farming is hard work, and working organically takes food and farming to a whole new level.  You can help EarthDance with their mission by helping to cultivate a community that values fresh healthy food.  Start by visiting EarthDance yourself, and then by bringing your friends, and then their friends. That’s how it works! Experiences change you. Green Spiral will host another Party Bus Tour to EarthDance as a fundraiser, probably next May.  Be sure to get on the Green Spiral invitation list by sending a note to GreenSpiralTours@gmail.com.

2011 No Food No Farms