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Plants’ role in our everyday lives is focus in free Louisville event

A child gets their face painted at the Waterfront Botanical Gardens event in 2022.
James Moses/©2022 BisigImpactGroup / moses
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Waterfront Botanical Gardens
Face painting will be one of the many actives attendees can participate in during the Kaleidoscope Family Festival: Through the Lens of Plants.

People encounter plants every day. Whether it’s out in nature, the foods they eat or in mundane objects. The Kaleidoscope Family Festival: Through the Lens of Plants aims to show how plants transform from beautiful flora to functional tools.

The Waterfront Botanical Gardens are filled with plants that are a feast for the eyes. But Duncan Cherry, the marketing and media manager at the gardens, said there’s much more to plants than their aesthetic appeal.

“Plants are part of our everyday life, whether we know it or not,” Cherry said. “You might sit on a piece of furniture and not think about the fact that it's bamboo or teak or any of that kind of wood.”

He said the “Through the Lens of Plants” event will show just how many products are derived from plants.

“We’re inviting some vendors and some members of the Jefferson County Master Gardeners Association, and some other people like that to come and really educate people about plants and how plants are so important,” Cherry said.

Attendees will be able to get fresh popped popcorn, try snowcones flavored with real fruit and see how plants become items people use every day.

The Louisville Folk School will be there to offer entertainment and demonstrate how plants make music.

“And they can say, ‘Oh, this guitar is made from maple or ash.’ And people can see that, and kids can see that and kind of have that touch in connection with that,” Cherry said.

Helping children connect with and understand nature is a particularly important goal of the festival, especially in a time with so many digital distractions.

“Plants are very analog,” Cherry said. “They require a lot of the same things that we need as humans ... It’s just really a place that I think that everybody could come and really enjoy some time away from just screens.”

But the event won’t be totally devoid of technology.

Rhythm Science will be on-site using technology to allow people to hear plants. Staffers hook plants up to sensors and then apply stimuli.

“[The plants] have a response since they are living items, and that kind of data turns into sound and they can make music with it,” Cherry said.

Cherry said hearing how plants respond to things like sunlight, water or even the presence of a person helps people realize plants are part of the same living world they are.

The free Kaleidoscope Family Festival: Through the Lens of Plants is Sept. 16 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Waterfront Botanical Gardens.

Support for this story was provided in part by the Jewish Heritage Fund.

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Breya Jones is the Arts & Culture Reporter for LPM. Email Breya at bjones@lpm.org.