No Shortage of Eco-Friendly Ideas
at Green Earth Fair
By Mike Lauterborn
(for Westport News)
(for Westport News)
Westport, CT – What better place to hold a Green Earth Fair than Earthplace, Westport’s Nature Discovery Center, nestled in wild woodlands and dedicated to environmental stewardship.
The 10 Woodside Lane site hosted the annual event Saturday April 30, offering 20 exhibitors, a children’s concert and authors reading and book signing. Exhibits focused on energy saving, locally grown food, home gardening and recycled products. Live animals and a sea life touch tank rounded out the agenda.
Organizer Margaret Ardwin, a naturalist at the Center, gave some background on the event. “We’ve been doing this for 11 years and each year has a different theme,” she said. “This year, it’s ‘Do It Yourself, Green at Home’, which is about things you can do at home to have a positive effect on the environment. Some things we teach are raising chickens at home, beekeeping, composting and using a clothesline. We are also promoting the value of electric cars and home energy efficiency.”
Lloyd Benjamin, a manager at New England Smart Energy, one of the exhibitors, explained his company’s focus. “We come to your home, set up a blower and check for air leaks in a house,” he said. “The goal is to keep heat from escaping. Our service includes changing light bulbs, checking ductwork and insulation, installing door sweeps, etc. We can really save a homeowner a lot of money.”
Set up on the Center’s front lawn was a display from Wakeman Town Farm. Director Mike Aitkenhead spoke about the educational homestead’s focus. “We inform the community about local healthy food production, responsible land care and sustainable practices,” he said. “We aim to be the hub of the local food movement in Westport. The Fair is a great way to let the public know what we have to offer.”
Standing beside a tabletop container of baby chickens, with her two-year-old daughter Olivia peering in, Fair attendee Kim Perlen commented, “I would like to get more environmentally friendly in my everyday life. You can pick up some good tips at events like this.”
The chicks were not the only fowl onsite. Elizabeth Beller keeps 15 hens at home and was exhibiting several of them, including one tufted specimen called Lady Gaga. “They are all laying hens and produce five to six eggs per week,” she said. “I started doing this last June as a summer project. There’s nothing like fresh eggs. When I make an omelet, it’s a deep golden color. It’s so delicious.”
Nearby, Christy Colasurdo, co-founder of Graze, an artisanal food company, spoke about her business. “We’re a farm to front door delivery service,” she said. “Our suppliers are small family farms in Vermont. Our products include grass-fed Angus, free-range poultry, milk and cheeses. The whole idea is to support family farmers and preserve that tradition.”
Offering a new twist on recycled materials, Nancy Hodor, owner of Eco-East, was selling Olovesm bags, which are made from remnant yoga mats and fabrics. “We take a product that would normally go in a landfill and give it new life.”
Stressing that the sea and its bounty are also key in an environmental sense was Alan Sharkany, a consultant representing Norm Bloom and Son, local harvesters of clams and oysters. The company had provided a touch tank full of sea creatures that was attracting a small crowd of children. “These were farmed from the Westport islands,” he said. “We are stressing the importance of renewable resources and clean water to sustain those resources. At the same time, we’re having some interactive fun with the kids.”
Visitor Merlin Meyer-Mitchell, from Norwalk, was happy to have gained some applicable information from the Fair. “I was checking out the electric cars,” he said. “I’m very interested in reducing my carbon footprint as I commute by car every day. We’ve enjoyed learning about the local sea life, too. And it’s nice that both adults and kids can enjoy activities here.”