50 shades of green

Sustainability at Garden Station’s Earthfest downtown

By Lisa Bennett

What do you think of when you hear the phrase “sustainable living?” If you think of intelligent, everyday people working to create a healthier, brighter future for new generations. you’re on the right track. Sustainable living means simply finding ways to reduce the carbon footprints we leave behind.

Contrary to some popular belief, those changes don’t have be complicated or even big to make a positive impact. Something as simple as using a reusable water bottle instead of buying bottled water can make a huge difference. Other simple steps can include using items like bottle caps and used coffee filters for craft projects for kids instead of throwing them away, riding a bike instead of driving or even spending a day outdoors playing ball or Frisbee instead of using electricity to play video games can make a positive impact on the environment.

With sustainable living, every little bit helps! You don’t have to build solar powered panels on your home or have a big garden in your back yard to live green. In fact, many of the more sustainable changes you can make also have the added benefit of saving you lots of money. For folks who live within city limits, just think of how much money you’d save every month if you walked to the corner store or to run errands instead of driving, using cheap, organic stuff to clean with instead of expensive, commercial cleaners and having beautiful, indoor plants to clean your air instead of using electricity to run air purifiers. For those who have to pay for water and sewer, consider the money you’d save if you used rain barrels to water your garden, wash your car and outdoor patio and fill small children’s pools with instead of running the hose from the tap. Every gallon counts and the savings can be pretty significant by the end of the summer season.

Sustainable living has become so important and so popular that the Garden Station of Dayton has developed an annual festival to both encourage urban gardening and to help educate folks on ways they can not only help the environment, but also help themselves by improving health and saving money. The festival is jam-packed with vendors and experts all ready and willing to share their knowledge on topics ranging from organic gardening and composting to a Healthy Diet Workshop by Weston Price to family friendly recycling crafts,
home brewing, cheese making, fermenting and even vermiculture.

“This year we have about 40 classes, 50 booths and we have more plants for sale than we have ever had,” says Garden Station Manager Lisa Helm.

Earthfest got its humble start in 2012 when volunteers at the Garden Station together with the urban farmer’s group, called Dayton Urban Grown, decided to do something special for Earth Day. Helm explains that normally they didn’t start the farmer’s market until June. But they had just gotten a green house that year and we wanted to do something special for Earth day so they decided to have a plant sale.

The first Earth Day was just a market. They sold plants and plant starts and offered a few seed-starting classes as well. A musician volunteered to play, making it a fun, memorable day. The following year, the Earth Day Market became the first annual “Earthfest” and wound up with more than 30 different classes, five bands and 25 booths.

“It wasn’t supposed to be that big,” Helm recalls. “It just started mushrooming.”

This year, Earthfest plans to focus on making the festival family-friendly.

“There are scads of kid’s activities,” Helm says. “We’ve got one classroom that has extra kid’s activities, another gal there who will be offering kids crafts and activities all day and the Learning Tree Farm will be there with chickens who are really used to being around kids, and hopefully they’ll have some other baby animals there as well.”

Besides activities for kids, there will be local beer on tap including beer from Fifth Street Brewpub and Dayton Beer Company as well as beer from the Draft Home Brewing Club who will be there brewing all day. There is even talk of a Tiny House on site courtesy of the Dayton Tiny House Community.

“The whole point of it is just to get more people educated so our area can be more be more sustainable and also more self-sufficient and resilient,” Helm says.

Earthfest takes place 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, April 23 at Garden Station, 509 E. Fourth St. in Dayton. The event and event workshops are free. For more information, please visit daytongardenstation.org/earthfest.

Reach DCP freelance writer Lisa Bennett at LisaBennett@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Reach DCP freelance writer Lisa Bennett at LisaBennett@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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