Jesup Blair Local Park in the heart of Silver Spring was the place to be on May 5 for nearly 1000 festival-goers of all ages looking to enjoy eco-friendly exhibits, workshops and performances. GreenFest, the County’s premiere environmental festival, returned down County for its fourth year and focused on inspiring the public to take action for the environment through exhibitors, workshops and fun!
Visiting the many exhibits situated along the park’s winding trails, was a fun-filled way for families to get their daily steps in. Each booth offered the opportunity to learn something new – from how to grow mushrooms at home to upcoming volunteer opportunities or tips to get started with solar. Each year there is something new on “the green scene”.
Some booths provided free resources to help reduce your footprint, including spinach and flower seeds, reusable groceries bags and even paintable trees. “Hey go over there, they have pizza cutters!” one pint-size pizza aficionado shouted across the busy park.
If attendees wanted to take the learning beyond the exhibitors, they might have attended one of four workshops. Each workshop offered practical, hands-on skills like quickling (quick pickling), backyard beekeeping, and finding green jobs via an information and networking session. The small space workshop by Kathy Jentz of Washington Gardener Magazine was standing room only, with an impressive crowd of 50 attendees!
Mark Mills of Chocolate & Tomatoes Farm – an organic tomato farm and chocolate business located in Germantown and Ashton – hosted a “quickle” demonstration, showing GreenFest attendees how to instantly pickle strawberries, carrots, radishes, green onions and other fruits and vegetables.
“The beauty of a quickle is you make it and you either eat it or stick in in your fridge and eat it within a week,” he said. “You really do it for flavor, not for preservation, which is a totally different process. It’ll get you to eat more of your veggies so I think that’s a good thing.”
This year, the addition of live performances allowed UpRooted Dance to premier their latest work, “The Legacy Project: Our Lives of Consumption.” Artistic director Keira Hart-Mendoza said the performance – from the movements to the Marie Antoinette-inspired costumes and wigs made of old newspapers, plastic bottles and other waste – is designed to represent the abundance of trash in our society and how it affects our oceans and the planet. As the dance crew moved around in their costumes to announce their performance, the festival goers stopped to take pictures with them.
“It’s ironic that [our] food is consumed very quickly but the container that held it could be around for a very long times,” she said. “Ultimately, our dance is not going to encourage people to change, it’s the education about the message that will – so teaching kids about the three Rs is important.”
A tree climbing display located in the Kids Exploration Area helped the younger set get active and learn what it’s like to be a Montgomery County arborist. With the help of experienced adults, harnesses and a pulley system, the arborists-in-training stood in line and took turns climbing large shade trees.
“This is the highest I’ve climbed!” said one young attendee proudly as he finished his climb and headed off to experience something new at GreenFest.
By Kimberly Hodges and Felicia Hodges