Deepening Environmental Stewardship: Tzu Chi Education Promotes Plant-Based Awakening Together

National Headquarters  |  June 9, 2023
Students from Tzu Chi Academy work together to pick up litter on the grass. Photo/Chao Hwa Chen

Written by Xinyi Lee
Translated by H.B. Qin
Edited by Andrea Barkley

Southern California has experienced plentiful rainfall in 2023. Following several days of heavy downpour, the region welcomed a spell of fine weather accompanied by clear skies. On March 18, the Life Science Farm Green City Environmental Event sponsored by the Tzu Chi Education Foundation commenced underneath the warm sunshine. As people walked into the Walnut Life Science Garden, there was fresh green everywhere, sweeping away the gloom caused by continuous rainy days.

A Little Paradise

The planning and construction of the Walnut Life Science Garden began in 2019. Within a short period, it has flourished from its humble beginnings. The Charadrius birds return to the farm each year to nest, hatch, and breed. All the fruits and vegetables cultivated on the farm are nurtured using homemade enzymes and compost, ensuring they are entirely natural and free from chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Residents frequently lend a hand or purchase the farm’s produce, and many seniors enjoy participating in planting and harvesting activities. Additionally, during the summer, students can join outdoor camps and engage in farming within an ecological and natural classroom setting.

Little Volunteers, Big Energies

The event witnessed a remarkable turnout in its second year, with over 900 attendees on this sunny day. In addition, 36 booths, including eight government agencies, participated in the market, signifying substantial growth compared to the previous year’s attendance of 400 people and 18 stalls. This significant expansion reflects the enduring efforts of Walnut Life Sciences Farm.

Debbie Lee, CEO of the Tzu Chi Education Foundation, emphasized the event’s core focus: promoting vegetarianism and environmental care while inviting like-minded individuals to foster positive thoughts and energy within the community. Young volunteers from the Tzu Chi Academy played a crucial role in advocating vegetarianism during the event. These little ambassadors held small green cards, encouraging attendees to make wishes and commit to how many days and times they would embrace a vegetarian lifestyle, thereby contributing to the environment and animal welfare. Influenced by these charming young volunteers, many individuals who had no prior experience with vegetarianism were inspired to give it a try. These sweet children had such a persuasive charm that it was difficult to resist.

“If one person dines vegetarian for one meal, 500 people collectively save 35 chickens and one pig. I hope that everyone can do their part to save the earth from global warming.”

Harnessing the Collective Strength

The event drew a large crowd, and within the Science Farm, a dedicated group of nine eco-teachers formed a team of farm volunteers, providing insightful tours of the farm. They introduced the diverse array of flowers, plants, vegetables, and fruits cultivated on the premises. As souvenirs, they distributed okra, yellow beans, and pumpkin seeds from the farm, accompanied by Jing Si Aphorisms.

Throughout the event, attendees, booth owners, and volunteers expressed their enjoyment. Wanxiao Xu, a parent of a student at the US Tzu Chi Elementary School and the booth manager of the charity sale, shared her excitement about this unique and enjoyable experience. She and her husband, driven by their admiration for Tzu Chi’s culture, had enrolled their two children in Tzu Chi Academy. The children particularly relished the nutritious vegetarian lunch provided at the school. Wanxiao Xu remarked, “Setting up a booth for the first time was a fantastic experience. I made many new friends and connected with school teachers. If given another opportunity, we will gladly participate again.”

Xihong Zhai, President of the Southern California Chinese Environmental Protection Association (SCCAEPA), highlighted the event’s significance in promoting organic ecology and serving as a platform for non-profit organizations to exchange ideas. In addition, such activities enliven the community, foster camaraderie, and enhance neighborly relations.

Parrots welcome everyone at the event. Photo/Wesley Tsai

Tzu Chi holds a beautiful aspiration to unite the collective power of individuals, bringing greater strength to purify the hearts of our planet and society.

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