One can eschew green-minded tweets to friends on a daily basis–or buy a few fair trade groceries here and there–but how does a large portion of a community actually apply organic principles to their everyday life?
Why, throw a “Celebrate Compost Festival,” of course! What says festival more than showing pedestrians totes full of vermi-compost (worm farms) while wining and dining them on a array of delectable food and wines from local restaurant and wineries?
Put on by several citizens and the Green Restaurant Alliance Sacramento (GRAS) the Compost Festival drew an impressive number of locals and curious tourists. Folks listened to local spoken artists, a talented young duo sporting a banjo and guitar and admired the handiwork of citizens, students and small businesses, all of which showed themselves truly dedicated to making a difference in our fair city by diverting waste from landfills and returning growing food to the hands of the people that consume it.
My children and I stopped by one booth manned by smiling high school students; they proudly showed us the compost bins they keep in their classroom and informed us that each day they liberally toss in food scraps, shredded junk mail, water and greenery to feed the medley of live worms within.
“There’s one in every classroom in our school!” a sweet-faced young lady told us. She reached into the bins without gloves and stirred the black compost within. “Would your kids like to see the worms?” Indeed they did, for we’ve had our own bins in our backyard for three years.
“Our worms are bigger,” my 10-year old son whispered to me as we walked on to the next booth. I agreed. We visited the Slow Food Sacramento booth, the How-To-Make-Your-Own-Compost booth, the local food coop booth, the folks selling uber-svelte worm “farm” equipment and the GRAS table.
GRAS was what drew us to the festival in the first place, being a rather unique program started by perfectly ordinary people. These intrepid folks saw top-quality kitchen peelings being tossed out by the area’s restaurants and mused to themselves if these “scraps” could not be collected and used for some greater purpose, like compost. Keeping said material out of area landfills seemed like a great bonus and soon such silent ponderings took to voice and gathered in number, until eleven area restaurants, including chefs, their staffers, diners, local growers, wineries, distributors, vendors, and municipalities joined in as “partners.” GRAS diverts approx 1 ton of organic vegetable scrap per month to local farms and community gardens. The organization provides compost training and is lobbying for a city-wide municipal composting program.
The best part of attending this very green’ly applicable venture was learning about a brand new facility in the northern part of Sacramento which takes in compost-able material–and food “waste” from local industrial plants–and turns it into electricity, to the tune of about 150 Kilowats an hour. It was also highly refreshing to see so many folks taking an interest in backyard organic gardening, composting, vermi-composting and in tasting the fruit of such dedicated labors, all the while really, honestly helping to re-use and reduce waste at little to no cost to the hard-working taxpayers of California.