Learning To Be Green Was Easy at Ecofest
By Office of Communication
Posted on September 24, 2012, September 24, 2012

For two years Ronnie and Geraldine Pierce have toyed with the idea of ripping apart their front lawn to start anew with native plants and a landscape bed expansion that uses little water and saves lots of money.

The problem: "We have no idea what we're doing," said Geraldine.

So the couple came to Ecofest 2012, which lured thousands of people Saturday to its daylong festival that stimulates environmental awareness. The goal was to check out its array of classes from Irrigation Construction to Managing Yards During Extreme Heat to learning how to begin backyard composting.

Well over a dozen classes were presented and all except the Make a Rain Barrel Class were free. (The Rain Barrel class was $10 with rain barrels included.) More than 100 people were on hand for that class in the Arlington City Council Chamber.

The Pierces attended the Landscape Design and Creating and Maintaining a Smart Yard 101 classes where they learned practical information on methods of maintaining useful grass areas and how to sustain a healthy yard to save water, energy and cash.

"What the City is trying to do with these classes is give basic information to start changing the landscape culture," said Master Gardener Dave Wilson, who taught the Landscape Design class. "What we're concerned with is that people are either buying the wrong plants and trying to make them survive in a hostile environment with a decreasing water source or buying the right plant but aren't applying the proper culture to make sure it does work."

The environmental classes are in some ways the hidden gems of Ecofest, which featured music, entertainment for children like petting zoos and bounce houses, and offered rows of booths where people could get free digital nerve analysis, stress tests, learn about organic lawn care and even play Ping Pong Potty where you had to knock a ping pong ball into a toilet. And not just any toilet. A water efficient toilet.

"I love this - music over there and you can still have a conversation over here," said Nancy Redmon of Harvesting Hope Community Garden, which maintains over 60 garden beds. This is their first year at Ecofest. "It's a pretty amazing place to be," she said. " Michael Timothy brought his family "because every year I learn something new about being green," he said. "The kids see it as a big fun place. So it works for us."

Kids could rock climb, learn skate boarding, get their face painted, pet a goat, learn bike safety and everything there is know about owls.

Master Gardener Wilson said it's the next generation that must take up the baton of sustainability.

"The population is still expanding in the metro area, housing is still growing, industry is still coming in," Wilson said. "But there's no new water supply. Water will be insufficient to take care of everyone. Water conservation will be even more important to them."

View photo of Ecofest 2012

By Ken Perkins


Environment, News