Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Ithaca Journal Features Green Fest

Green Fest to attract over 100 this weekend
Lessons on permaculture, sustainability and local food on agenda

By Jennie Daley
Journal Staff

CAYUTAVILLE — From pine grove to meeting room, such are the conversions under way at a Cayutaville homestead preparing to host this weekend's Green Fest.

Billed as a sustainability-focused weekend that also will serve as a fundraiser for the Green Party, Green Fest will span three days with two of them based in Ithaca and Saturday's happenings at the Cayuta Sun homestead.

The home of Elmira school teacher Michael Burns and his fiancée, Kelly Dietz, Cayuta Sun has been a five-year project for Burns that started as an empty lot. It now is home to the two-story, highly energy efficient house Burns built with a contractor, gardens, chickens and two geese. The newest addition is an almost finished, double outhouse for campers who will be using the homestead as a base for the weekend.
Where all these features were placed and how they are used is based on permaculture principles. Created as a set of design guidelines, permaculture aims to maximize natural efficiencies. For instance, permaculture principles would encourage someone to put their gardens between the house and where they park so they pass by it often, rather than sticking the garden in an inconvenient corner of the yard.

Yet permaculture lessons will only be one part of a busy weekend. Workshops will touch on a range of topics including cooking with a solar oven, constructing your own wind turbine, the politics of sustainability and building a local food network.

Organizers are expecting more than 100 people to attend from all areas of the state, including Buffalo, Albany, Syracuse and New York City. Already in town and helping with set up is Michele Danels, a local food organizer and community gardener in East New York, which is an impoverished edge of Brooklyn.

“When I heard about this I said ‘I'm in.' People are really depressed about what's happening in the world, and this offers hope,” Danels said.

Working along with Danels Tuesday was Rachel Treichler, a former Green Party candidate and an organizer of the 2003 Green Fest. Triechler has been spearheading this year's efforts and said they decided to be more ambitious with this summer's agenda after the positive reception they received four years ago.

This year's events begin at 6:30 p.m. Friday at The Community School of Music and Art, 330 E. State St. All events Saturday will be at Cayuta Sun, 2962 S. Swamp Road, and events Sunday will begin at 10 a.m. at the Bernie Milton Pavilion on The Commons.

The cost for Friday and Saturday is $35, including lunch and dinner Saturday. There is an added fee for camping.

With the schedule set and the sites coming together, now all the organizers have to do is figure out how to feed those 100-plus people. One menu item was easy for them to settle on, locally grown salad.

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