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Fourth annual event scheduled for Sept. 27-29 at Heritage Park in Barrie

Lance Holdforth

By Lance Holdforth, Special to QMI Agency

Back to Basics/Unity Market are presenting the fourth annual Ecofest Barrie at Heritage Park from Sept. 27-29. Helping to organize the annual event are, from left, John Roe, Amber and Andrew Miller. Visit for details.IAN MCINROY BARRIE EXAMINER

Back to Basics/Unity Market are presenting the fourth annual Ecofest Barrie at Heritage Park from Sept. 27-29. Helping to organize the annual event are, from left, John Roe, Amber and Andrew Miller. Visit for details.IAN MCINROY BARRIE EXAMINER

The seeds of Barrie's Ecofest were planted four years ago and have grown into an annual event many residents look forward to every year.

Back to Basics executive director, Andrew Miller is helping manage the fourth annual event in Heritage Park from Sept. 27-29, and said the festival's growth shows the city's desire to support sustainable living.

"The main theme of the festival is solutions," Miller said. "It's about the challenges we're facing on the planet, so we want to highlight low-tech and high-tech solutions and what we can do as a community."

Visitors are invited to the three-day event to learn about global sustainability and the benefits of alternative sources of energy such as wind and solar power.

"We definitely have seen an increase in attendance, and we're hoping to increase the numbers again," Miller said. "Definitely we're noticing more local activism and community involvement and collaborations."

Food vendors will be on hand to dish up some unique culinary delights created from food cultivated from throughout the region.

"We've been requesting the food vendors source as much food locally as possible, in season ideally and preferably organic," Miller said. "On the Friday night we're doing a fashion show and a dinner, so Friday and Saturday we're hoping to get as many people down as possible for food and entertainment and to sample all the foods and different selections."

Vendors were asked to support local farmers by sourcing cooking materials grown in the region, but also to spread the word about the importance of buying local meats and produce.

"So far we have five food vendors with a nice array of different types of food to highlight local food and to communicate that at their booths," Miller said. "We have a lot of tomatoes that we've been growing in the garden across the street from Unity Market, on Toronto Street, so we're using those in the cafe and in our dishes."

In addition to the support of local sponsors, the event is being presented by Back to Basics and Unity Market with hopes of educating residents about how environmental programs can help the local community.

"As a community, resilience is growing, so there's more strength happening on a community level with people working together and helping each other out by sharing resources and moving in a positive direction," Miller said. "It is positive and we see positive signs of less violence and strife in the community and more people looking for peaceful ways to deal the challenges and they are becoming more interested in the solutions."

Getting involved in community programs such as building local gardens can teach adults and youth how food is grown, but also create a sense of pride in their neighbourhoods and themselves, Miller said.

"Getting your hands in the dirt and getting involved growing your own food benefits your personality and mental health and physical health," he said. "There's something unique about putting work in early in the season and caring for these plants throughout the year and eating from them."

The park will have much to offer visitors and a good time is definitely scheduled for the weekend which will include youth seminars, music and electric vehicle test drives.

"We have a special focus on youth and mentoring about trades, training, learning how to build gardens, landscaping and helping communities through projects," Miller said. "We hope people can come and experience this great community effort with lots of great volunteers who helped to put this event on."

Local bands and musicians from around the region will take to the stage to play music from all different genres.

"We'll be switching up the genres back-to-back so it will be a nice eclectic mix. We've got a really neat mix of musicians and all different genres, so it's a great mix up," Miller said. "All from within a couple hours drive. We've got some from Owen Sound, some from the First Nations community."

Stage areas may be a place many visitors find themselves as bands play, but also where residents will hear how they can chip in to preserve the earth.

"The Rock 95 stage is a larger stage this year, and we'll open at noon on Friday, so we'll be having more music and a longer line-up," Miller said. "We also have a second stage for workshops, authors and experts who will speak about environmental issues."

For more information about the festival, visit




• The festival has brought Barrie residents together through local environmental programs and awareness since 2010.

• Food vendors at the vent source fresh produce and meats from local farmers to provide not only quality and healthy meals to visitors, but also to demonstrate the benefits of purchasing locally grown foods.

• Workshops throughout the festival illustrate the need for sustainable living by educating visitors on the advances in green technology such as solar and wind energy which can be utilized in family homes.

• Children can learn about preserving the environment through presentations at The Kid Zone: Discovery Child Care centre.

• Eco-conscious bands and musicians will take part in the event to entertain crowds as more groups have been added to this year's event.

• Visitors on Friday evening will be treated to a evening dinner of seasonal dishes prepared by local chefs while models will present new lines of eco-friendly clothing during a fashion show.

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