Ecofest a nod to the environment

Cheryl Browne

By Cheryl Browne, Barrie Examiner

It wasn't hard not to respect the environment on such a beautiful day.

Thousands attended the third annual Ecofest Barrie at the waterfront, soaking up the sunshine, scentless soap and sound frequencies.

Geo dome volunteer, Jordan Lavigne, explained that many visitors throughout the day had taken the time to bless a bowl of water taken from Kempenfelt Bay, with prayers, drumming and good vibrations.

"With our water blessings, we're helping the lake," Lavigne said, explaining the total dissolved solids readings were down from 195 to 183 since the water was taken from the lake.

The power of positive thought abounded with 85 vendors selling their wares and services under a scorching sun with a lazy lake breeze cooling things down a little as the day went on.

There was something for everyone, with le petite reve - or little dream - booth selling playfully designed crib quilts and toys using recycled fabrics.

"My products are all natural and organic," owner and artist Selena Burgess said. "I use vintage fabrics and up-cycle them to create new products."

Over at the SimpleSudz booth, Rahul Sethi and Darren Olson demonstrated their residential and commercial scent-free soaps.

In the process of opening up a factory to increase their now national product, Sethi said their pet and child safe products are catching on.

"This is our third year here, we're really starting to create an awareness about environmentally responsible products," Olson said.

With solar panel demonstrations, and Ontario Streams offering folks information about invasive species, and handmade soap sales in the geo dome, there really was something for everyone, from everyone.

Hearts and Crafts brought in ethical imports from Nicaragua, Mexico, Nepal, Rwanda and Cambodia.

In the next booth Karen Stephenson showed people what local flowers and plants they could eat, including forget-me-nots, chickweed, alfalfa and pine and spruce needles.

Event organizer, Yolanda Gallo, said a highlight of the weekend was the Trashfusion teen event Saturday evening, that was a tongue and cheek poke at big business by kids wearing plastic bag fashions and pop tab tops.

"It was a way for youth to tell people - corporations - to think about our future, the economy, to think about Mother Earth," said Gallo.

With a tight budget to keep Ecofest running in it's third year -with Back to Basics as its new executive - Gallo pointed to the recycled -or up-cycled - T-shirts the volunteers were wearing.

By turning previously enjoyed white T-shirts inside out, they'd screened on Ecofest's small logo and saved them from the landfill for another day.

As an Indie band played in the music tent, the beer and fresh farmer's food tent was packed with twentysomethings mixing it up with boomers.

Back to Basics and Unity Market environmentalist, Andrew Miller, showed off his hydroponics garden in a modified truck/train container.

With a large tank holding dozens of six-inch long rainbow trout, a pump filtered water through a clay pellet garden of sage, cilantro, peppers, tomatoes and basil, back up to the fish tank.

Miller used Ecofest 2012 to kick-start a capital campaign to build a high resource centre for environmental sustainability.

"I'd like to see a monolithic collaborative R&D centre on sustainability," he said, grinning with enthusiasm.

Matt Jones and Michelle Huggins, new owners of the new Lazy Tulip Café in Barrie's downtown core said they were enjoying the event, and the breeze coming in off the bay.

"As far as festivals go, this is the way to go," said Jones, walking around barefoot to feel more grounded. "As Barrie evolves, we'll evolve with it."

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