Ever planted a seed bomb? Don’t let the word “bomb” fool you – these little balls made from egg carton, water and seeds are far from destructive. In fact, they’re a way of promoting wildlife.
“You can plant them any place,” author and teacher Marcie Cuff told the Gazette. “Especially in abandoned areas where there isn’t necessarily a lot of green space that exists.”
On Sunday morning, residents can join Cuff for a seed-bomb making workshop, discussion and tour of the Java Street Community Gardens to promote her new book “This Book Was a Tree: Ideas, Adventures, and Inspiration for Rediscovering the Natural World.”
Cuff has been paying attention to the natural world all her life. With a background in both art and biology, Cuff went to graduate school in Alaska and then worked as a biology and environmental science teacher in Manhattan before she decided to move to a small town just north of the city and start a family of her own. There she got involved in her daughters’ grade school by running a small garden, and soon started a blog that gained a following around the community.
“I was kind of documenting the things I did with my kids and the school garden,” she said. “They’re projects that are very hands on.”
About a year-and-a-half ago, a neighbor suggested she write a book that included all of the projects and activities she’d written about in stories on her blog. Now comfortable with writing, Cuff decided to go for it, and her book, which features all sorts of fun, eco-minded projects for adults and children alike was published on April 1.
“The book is very hands on; it’s interactive,” she said.
Though Cuff wrote her book for grown-ups, she says she’s received positive responses from people of all ages, including teachers and grandparents who want to share her knowledge with their own little ones. All of the projects in the book are meant to inspire readers to experiment, and many of them start with something most people would already have lying around the house — like an old metal tin to make a pinhole camera and an old wood board that can be transformed into a perpetual calendar.
“It’s a fun book that actually addresses serious topics in a way that hopefully is not overwhelming,” Cuff said. “It gives you simple, everyday ideas for ways to slow down and give more attention to the environment.”
The book features one recipe for making seed bombs, but she’ll be showing a somewhat different method on Sunday. She’ll be mixing deli egg cartons, water and native New York wildflower seeds and rolling them into little orbs that look like meatballs. Cuff finds joy in secretly planting the “bombs” around her own town – and she’s made them with her daughters to sell at New York City farmer’s markets for years.
“I think it’s kind of like a nice surprise,” she said. “You can raise awareness in different ways.”
After the seed bomb-making demo, Cuff will be talking to participants about ways to transform spaces and start positive social change in communities. The event will wrap up with a trip to the Java Street Community Garden where Cuff and participants will get a tour of the green space.
The author thinks these kinds of activities are important because they encourage people to become more engaged with their environment without “forcing an issue down a person’s throat.”
“Gardens nurture community spirit, common purpose, and cultural appreciation by building bridges among individuals and local organizations,” she said. “And gardens help teach an environmental ethic and get people really dirty. And, to me, that’s important.”
Last weekend, Cuff traveled to Austin on her book tour and made hundreds of seed bombs with native Texan wildflowers, which will be spread throughout the city.
“It’s a nice feeling,” she said. “It’s a way to spread the word.”