Astoria Children's Museum gears up for first homegrown eventRecognizing that the sweetest carrots come from one's own back yard, Astoria Children's Museum organizers have culled local earth experts from the lower Columbia's garden of environmental supporters for a decidedly homegrown Earth Day event.

The first ACM Earth Day will be celebrated from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday and will feature a bicycle blender crafted by two Astoria men, a compost exhibit created by John Jacob Astor sixth-graders and a science experiment from Sea Resources - among a host of other projects.

The idea was Astoria resident Cindy Barlow's seedling. She wanted to teach her 3-year-old son, Balan, and other children the importance of keeping the earth healthy.

If you goWhat: Earth Day celebration

When: Noon to 4 p.m., Sunday, April 25

Where: Astoria Children's Museum, located at the Uppertown Firefighter's Museum, 2968 Marine Drive

Cost: Free

More info: 325-8669"With air quality and water quality, if we don't keep it clean we won't have much to live on," she said. "And people don't always understand the implications of herbicides, pesticides and fungicides. It's not just human beings, it's animals, plants, microorganisms that are affected."

The free event will start with a paper hat making and mask making at the museum. Then children of all ages will join in a costume parade along the river walk to the Maritime Museum. Some kids have already been preparing for the parade this week by making rattles and giant paper fish out of recycled material.

On the way back, participants will help clean up the river front walkway.

But much of the excitement will be at the museum, where kids will be able to plant squash and flower seeds, claim a cedar tree start and taste new fruits and vegetables at the Community Store table.

"That could be really fun for the kids to taste things they haven't tried before," Barlow said, adding that the table would be providing information on organics.

Students will also be able to learn about worm composting from Astor sixth-graders who have been studying recycling for the past three months. They fed 1,000 of their own worms banana peels, lettuce and other lunch scraps and watched the squigglers turn waste into rich soil.

While the worms were planted in a "worm garden" in front of Astor two weeks ago because their bin was getting rather warm, Sahara Barkemyer, Rachel Ellis, Justine Grimmett, Patrick Gaffney, Ricky Sarin and Tyler Johnston will be at the museum to show off an example worm bin with newspapers and organic garbage, as well as pictures and pamphlets from the class project.

"They're very knowledgeable about the subject now and can answer any questions," teacher Heather Combs, said.

The students will also be handing out gummi worms.

Sea Resources' Heather Swanson will demonstrate how to use red cabbage juice to check the quality of the water. She'll give a simple explanation of acids and bases, and illustrate what can happen if the pH of a river or stream changes.

"Water quality is extremely important to us in Astoria," Swanson said. "Anything that happens that affects water quality upriver can impact us."

And don't forget the bicycle blender. Joe Garrison and Barry Sears have retrofitted a Schwinn, duct-taping the base of a blender to the rear rack of the old bicycle. When the tire rubs on the shaft of the motor, blender blades turn. Children will be able to make their own smoothies with bananas, yogurt and soymilk - provided by the museum - by either riding the bicycle or just turning the cranks by hand.

Storytelling and music will complete the day's celebration.

"(The event) provides education not only for children but for families and adults," Barlow said.

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