Chow down, bug out and celebrate National Organic Harvest Month at Organicfest this Saturday, Sept. 8, in Pack Square. The festival features organic eats and family-friendly events, including an educational, insect-themed parade, live music and a presentation by 13-year-old environmentalist and TEDNext star Birke Baehr. Organicfest celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.
The festival encompasses “everything from seeds to farming and flowers and fashion,” explains director Debi Athos.
Local culinary experts will present sushi-making, fermentation and kids' cooking classes in the festival's first-ever culinary demonstrations. Once they prepare the food, the audience will be able to sample it. All the food used in the demonstrations will be vegan, so everyone can partake in the products.
Food vendors will include Beulah's Bavarian Organic Pretzels, MacDaddy's Organic Lemonade & Snow Cones, Green Light Café and the French Broad Food Co-op. Other culinary-themed booths will include Mountain Rose Herbs, Silit Cookware and World's Best Carrot Cake. Raffles for dozens of foodie gift baskets will take place throughout the celebration.
At 1:15 p.m., Baehr will speak on the importance of local, organic, sustainable food systems. Over the past two years, he has delivered talks all over the country and in Italy. The discussion that launched his career took place right here in Asheville at the 2010 TedxNextGeneration event. The video of his presentation, “What's Wrong with our Food System,” now has more than half a million views on YouTube. In July, he published a children's book, Birke on the Farm: The Story of a Boy's Search for Real Food.
In addition to food issues, Organicfest seeks to raise awareness about agricultural practices in general. “Organicfest, that's one way that we want to let people see and to understand that the cotton's important too,” Athos says. “We wanted to use the Organicfest as a fun way for people to explore what is organic and actually see that organic is more than food and it is connected to the environment and being happy.”
She estimates that the festival will include about 70 booths representing issues related to farming practices. Educational initiatives about GMO crops and pesticides will neighbor booths featuring organic cotton clothing and beauty products. Local musicians, including Chris Rosser of Free Planet Radio, Richard Shulman and flutist Wind Motika, will perform throughout the day, and kids' activities, such as a costume-making session for the parade, will be abundant.
Organicfest takes place on Saturday, Sept. 8 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Pack Square Park. For more information, visit www.organicfest.org.