Kids are heading back to school ready to learn, but parents should ask themselves, are they learning the most basic things – like where their food originates.
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) encourages teachers and parents to make a game of learning about agriculture. “You can start by hunting for it in the kids’ backpacks,” says former teacher Dr. Jewel Bronaugh, now VDACS Commissioner. “It’s everywhere – in their pencils, their clothing and of course, their snacks.”
You may identify:
· Wooden pencils and paper made from trees
· Crayons made with soybean oil
· Chalk or glue made with pig by-products
· Cotton gym clothes and socks, or wool sweaters
· Leather shoes
· Paint brushes that contain hair bristles from pigs or cattle
· Hand lotions with lanolin, which is found in sheep’s wool
· Lunch with fruits, vegetables, bread, meats, cheese, milk or a Thermos of chicken noodle soup
“There’s agriculture in the gas tank as well as the backpack,” Bronaugh adds. “The trip to school may have been in the family car powered by ethanol, a clean fuel made from corn, or a school bus powered by biodiesel. Agriculture is all around them, but they may not know that all of these products and so many more come from Virginia’s farms unless you teach them.”
Bronaugh encourages parents to take children to the farm for those quintessential fall activities like picking apples or pumpkins to learn that agriculture also provides intangible benefits that include recreation, tourism, wildlife habitat, biodiversity, improved water quality and soil stabilization.
To make sure the kids don’t stump you with their “what’s that?” questions, parents can download the Ag Spotter’s Guide from the VDACS website so they can tell a tractor from a combine or corn from soybeans: vdacs.virginia.gov/pdf/agspotter.pdf.
6 advantages of camping
Are you still deciding on accommodations for your summer vacation or weekend getaway? Here are six good reasons to choose camping.
1. It’s affordable. Camping is generally less expensive than other summer accommodations like cabins.
2. You can tailor your vacation to your preferences and comfort level. There are camping accommodations for everyone, from tents and motorhomes to yurts and treehouses. What’s more, it’s easy to find pet-friendly facilities.
3. You and your family can meet new people. Moreover, campgrounds are ideal for group vacations, so your friends can easily join in on the fun.
4. Campgrounds offer a variety of facilities like tennis courts, swimming pools, and game rooms. Some facilities organize thematic evenings and friendly tournaments to keep you entertained. There’s also typically a playground for children.
5. You and your family can improve your cooperation and communication skills because camping requires you to be organized and adaptable.
6. Spending time in nature is a great way to relax and recharge your batteries. You can also enjoy picnics, barbecues, campfires, and evenings under the stars. Depending on your location, you can take advantage of hiking trails and water sports.
Lastly, camping is an excellent last-minute getaway because you can often pick up a site without a reservation.
The joys of cycling
Cycling is an affordable activity that’s good for your health, gentle on your joints, and above all, a lot of fun. What’s more, this eco-friendly activity is suitable for people of all ages. Here are three good reasons to get on your bike and ride.
1. Recharge your batteries
Cycling is one of the best ways to get fresh air and make the most of a sunny day. You can burn calories and fill up on vitamin D, all while having fun. Studies show that the psychological benefits of exercise increase tenfold when done outdoors, thanks to the calming effects of nature. Cycling gives you joy in the moment, plus a lasting feeling of well-being.
2. Enjoy the sights
Riding your bike through the forest, in the mountains, along the water, or over rolling hills allows you to admire enchanting landscapes that you wouldn’t otherwise get the chance to see. You may also get to rediscover familiar places from a new perspective and find your own little corner of paradise. Don’t forget your camera.
3. Visit new places
Cycling is a great way to explore a new city or region at your own pace. You can spend quality time with family or friends, explore new places and make lasting memories. You can also take your bike on a wine or historical buildings tour or ride to the ocean to watch whales. Just make sure you’re prepared for windy or rainy weather.
Are you itching to take a ride?
Good to know
You can use adventurecycling.org to find unique cycling routes across the United States. The route maps also identify bicycle-friendly inns, campgrounds, shops, and essential services along the way so that you can travel with confidence.
A guide to choosing the right paint finish
Do you want to repaint one or more rooms in your home? When choosing paint, the finish is just as important as the color. Here are some things to consider when choosing a matte, satin, velvet or semi-gloss finish.
What are paint finishes?
The term finish indicates how the paint will look on the painted surface and how much light it’ll reflect. Finish designations like velvet, platinum, satin, and pearl vary from one paint manufacturer to another. It’s therefore essential to ask about the sheen of the product before making your choice.
Here are the most suitable finishes for the different rooms and surfaces in your home:
• Ceilings. Matte finish is most suitable for ceilings. If applied evenly, it can hide imperfections.
• Living room and bedrooms. Consider matte and satin finishes for consistent and elegant results. Keep in mind that matte finishes aren’t as easy to clean. For easy cleaning, pearl and semi-gloss finishes are more suitable options.
• Bathrooms and kitchens. Shiny and glossy finishes are best for high-maintenance rooms that require moisture resistance. For areas that need occasional polishing, choose a semi-gloss finish.
• Woodwork. Velvet, satin, semi-gloss, and gloss finishes are suitable for woodwork and moldings. The same goes for doors. However, it’s best to choose a finish that’s easy to clean.
Visit a paint retailer in your area to stock up for your next project.
How to identify and eliminate red spider mites
While most pests are easy to spot in your garden, some are difficult to see with the naked eye. One example is the red spider mite. This pest is less than 1/64 of an inch long and only makes itself known when your plants start to suffer. Here’s how to spot red spider mites and eliminate them.
Appearance and behavior
Unlike the name suggests, red spider mites come in various colors, including brown, orange, and green. They suck the nutrients and chlorophyll directly from your plant, which causes the leaves to turn yellow and dry out. If left unchecked, this can cause the plant to die. Moreover, red spider mites don’t act alone. In fact, a single plant can be attacked by hundreds or thousands of mites.
The easiest way to spot red spider mites is to use a magnifying glass. You can also try pressing the plant’s foliage onto a sheet of white paper. If the paper becomes covered in tiny, moving specks, your plant is probably infested.
Control and elimination
Red spider mites thrive in hot, dry weather. Therefore, regularly watering helps prevent them from multiplying. Additionally, you can use a powerful spray nozzle to blast red spider mites off the leaves of your plants. However, if one plant is infested, you may want to dig it up to prevent it from contaminating nearby vegetation.
Finally, if you suffer from repeated red spider mite infestations, you can encourage or purchase predatory insects to take care of the problem. You can also use horticultural oil or insecticidal soap to keep these pests under control.
How to be a responsible hiker
Hiking has become an increasingly popular summer activity. However, the influx of inexperienced hikers on popular trails has led to various problems. Here are a few tips on how to be a considerate hiker.
Bring back all your garbage, including apple cores and other biodegradable materials. Also, make sure to stay on marked trails. If you stray off to create a shortcut or go around a puddle, you could trample fragile plants. You should also avoid picking up sand, flowers, rocks, and other parts of nature. What’s more, don’t disturb or feed wild animals.
Most hikers want to enjoy a quiet, peaceful atmosphere. Shouting or listening to loud music, for example, is rude and inappropriate. However, a friendly “hello” or a smile is always appreciated. Additionally, don’t stop in the middle of a trail. You should also let fast walkers go around you and prioritize those climbing if you’re descending. Moreover, share the beautiful views by not spending too long taking pictures at scenic outlooks.
Be prepared and careful
If you’re not well prepared or don’t know your limits, you could put yourself in danger. Therefore, bring plenty of food and water, even on short walks. You could be outdoors much longer than anticipated if you get injured. You should also bring the right equipment like a good pair of shoes, a first aid kit, and a whistle. Finally, choose a trail that matches your abilities and respect all trail signs and instructions.
One last, important piece of advice: don’t risk your life for a selfie.
Use warm colors in your decor
Do you want to repaint or decorate a room or two in your home? In 2022, warm colors are all the rage. Here are some tips to help you choose the right color and achieve the desired results.
Balance warm shades with cool tones
Combine warm colors with cool elements to create a sense of balance. For example, yellow or orange walls go perfectly with a polished concrete floor or wrought iron furniture.
Use them in the appropriate places
Yellow is a particularly stimulating color that has been shown to improve concentration and productivity. Therefore, it’s ideal for your home office or the bedroom. Moreover, red has a restorative, soothing effect, while orange evokes friendliness and creativity.
Think about the mood you want
Do you want to create an intimate or energizing space? Answering this question will help you determine the intensity of the colors to choose. Canary and mustard yellow, for example, evoke two very different moods.
Consider the effect of lighting
Both natural and artificial lighting can impact color. Before you start painting, make sure to try the colors in your space. Apply a few samples to the wall to see how your lighting affects the finished result.
Do you need help creating the perfect decor? Consider consulting an interior designer.