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Enviro Fest brings the energy, education

Live music, cooking demonstrations, scavenger hunt part of festival

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By Andrew Mitchell

On June 9, Whistler’s conservation community is presenting the sixth annual Enviro Fest celebration, with live music, presentations and demonstrations by participating organizations, activities for kids, and a Wild Things scavenger hunt.

Enviro Fest takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Mountain Square, at the base of the mountains. The theme of this year’s festival is Sustainability in Action, and will look at what Whistler and various organizations have achieved in recent years to reduce our ecological footprint.

The event kicks off at 10 a.m. with the second annual Wild Things scavenger hunt at Rebagliati Park, presented by the Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment (AWARE) and the Whistler Naturalists. The scavenger hunt will take an hour, and all kids must be accompanied by an adult.

Cara Richard, environmental education co-ordinator for AWARE, will lead the hunt, as participants search for and then draw various species of plants and animals.

The main part of the festival gets underway in Mountain Square at 11 a.m. with several interactive booths set up by participating organizations, and updates on various environmental campaigns and programs. Participants include AWARE, the Whistler Naturalists, the Whistler Fisheries Stewardship Group, the Jack Bell Foundation, representatives of Whistler2020, and various others.

Whistler and Valley Express (WAVE) will be hosting face painting and activities in a special bus, and students from Alta Lake School and Spring Creek School will be showcasing art and messages on the environment.

As well, there will be live cooking demonstrations throughout the day by local chefs, courtesy of Slow Food Whistler and Farm Folk/City Folk that emphasizes the use of organic and locally produced food.

“Basically we will have local chefs and local food producers there showcasing everything the Feast of Fields fundraiser is all about, which is a fundraiser in August that raises money for Farm Folk/City Folk,” said Astrid Cameron Kent, director of Slow Food Whistler.

“Farm Folk/City Folk is a group created in 1993 with three initiatives — protecting farmland, protecting our regionally-specific seeds like our potato seeds and tomato seeds, and educating city folk and connecting them with the farm folk, the consumer with the producer.”

According to Cameron Kent, the Slow Food movement advocates eating food grown regionally for various reasons, including taste, health, the environment, and ensuring the vitality of regional farms. The movement started in Italy in 1986 to combat the effect that fast food was having on farmers and diet.

“The goal of Slow Food Whistler, which is part of a Sea to Sky chapter and the global organization, is to educate people to deliberately consume regionally produced food, and to promote good, clean, fair food,” she said.

Cameron Kent and others will be taking the 100 Mile Challenge starting July 1, committing to only consuming food produced in a 100-Mile radius of Whistler.

To date, she says Pemberton’s farmland is a vastly under utilized resource. She would like to see local restaurants buy as much food locally as possible, and for residents to deliberately eat locally produced foods at least once a week.

“We have about 6,000 agricultural acres in Pemberton, that could supply all of the food and produce to local restaurants,” said Cameron Kent. “But if we look at all the food served in Whistler, maybe five to 10 per cent is produced in Pemberton, so we have lots of room. Most of our potatoes are shipped out of the area, and out of B.C. North Arm Farm is very successful selling products locally, but they do not sell out every week.”

More information will be available at the cooking demo, as well as some samples of locally produced food.

The first musical performance of the day gets underway at 11:30 a.m., with Vancouver’s Quest Poetics taking the stage. Hilltrip, a local organization that is looking to draw attention to the issue of global warming, is sponsoring the band.

In the afternoon the stage will be turned over to the Kostaman Band, presented by the Bands Against Hunger Society.

AWARE will also be presenting its Whistler Environmental Business Awards on the mainstage at 1 p.m., recognizing the environmental efforts of small, medium and large companies. This is the second year the awards have been presented.

All activities are free of charge, and families are welcome to participate, rain or shine.

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