We have just had our first annual Planet Unity Earth Day Celebration and it was a huge success! For a while we have been open to a way to connect with our surrounding communities; then the idea of Earth Day popped up. It was a huge undertaking and no one was stepping up to lead it until one day Lisa Landrigan said, “I think I can do that!” Wow! Lisa is one of the most organized minds I have had the pleasure of knowing, and not only that, she is a ‘follow through’ woman as well!
Within 2 days Lisa had a binder filled with ideas and an initial outline of the event. The day we met to discuss the idea I knew we were in good hands. From that point we called on volunteers and had about a dozen step up to take on various aspects of the event. These dedicated volunteers spent every Thursday evening for 2 months from 6 - 8 pm planning!
So why is Earth Day special to us? Glad you asked!
Let’s go back a little over 100 years ago when our co-founder Charles Fillmore and his sons, Rickert and Lowell, purchased 1,500 acres of land in Lee’s Summit, MO. This started Unity Farm. Practices at Unity Farm modeled the movement’s dietary and ecological priorities. The Fillmore’s were vegetarian, so much of the focus was on fruit and vegetable crop production. The farm’s orchards included 7,500 apple, cherry, and plum trees scattered throughout the farm, a 400-tree peach orchard, 12 acres of grapevines that yielded 60 tons of grapes, and fields of oats, wheat, corn, asparagus, strawberries, and soy beans.
To protect the pristine woodlands and rolling hills, Unity workers took great care to develop the farm only with what nature would provide. For example, streams were used to provide water for irrigation. In 1927, with the construction of a dam 530 feet long and 45 feet high, these same streams filled a 75 million-gallon reservoir that would be filtered for drinking water.
Also in the 1920s, Unity Farm built a three-mile road without disturbing the natural setting, and paved it with native rock from its own crusher. Unity Farm stone masons fashioned the rock to build rustic pools, walls, and bridges (which you can still enjoy today).
When a severe drought in the late 1930s killed a large number of black walnut trees on Unity Farm, workers felled the dead and dying trees and used the Unity sawmill to salvage more than nine miles of board feet of prime walnut lumber. The lumber would be gleaned for beautiful woodworking projects, and new trees were planted to replace those taken in the drought.
The Unity Village Hotel and Conference Center exemplifies the ongoing environmental stewardship demonstrated by the first generation of Unity. When the 33,000-square-foot facility opened in 2006, it was one of the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified “green” hotels in the Midwest.
So you see, we stand on great shoulders of the Unity Movement. We desire to carry on this legacy. We would love to have your involvement in helping to ‘green up’ Unity of Springfield. We are no longer offering water bottles, and once our current inventory of plastic forks, knives, and spoons are gone we will use real table ware. In addition, we are cutting way down on disposable cups. There will be an opportunity to paint your own coffee cup at Firehouse Pottery thanks to the generous heart of owner, Amie VanDamme. Drew Overmyer has graciously volunteered to build our ‘coffee cup’ wall to hang our clean cups. Our goal will be to purchase plates and bowls that are either made of recycled material or that are biodegradable. One way you can help is to financially underwrite the cost of these (in addition to your regular donation please).
Thank you to everyone who is on board. Together, we ARE making a difference!