Learn EcoSkills for Earth Day

Published in The Humm, Ottawa - April 2009
For Earth Day, consider doing something fun and practical that you can keep re-using for the rest of the year. Learn valuable skills for eco-living.
On Saturday, April 18, EcoPerth will be hosting an EcoSkills Sampler - a fun day of mini-workshops on eco-friendly living. Eleven local presenters will be presenting on ten topics: ecological principles and permaculture; solar hot water and electricity; biodiesel; rainwater harvesting and greywater; greenhouses and season extension; fermented foods and root cellars; canning; tree pruning and grafting; wild medicinal and edible plants; and advanced composting. The presenters are: Bob Argue, Sebastien Bacharach, Bonita Ford, Geoff Hodgins, Phyllis James, Joanna Kowalczyk, Lynn McIntyre, Paul Pietsch, Coral Sproule, Kristine Swaren and Stewart Yeaman.
Bonita Ford, one of the EcoPerth organisers and presenters, says: "When I think about climate change, the end of cheap oil, and the food and economic crises, like so many people, I can get stuck in overwhelm and despair. Then I catch myself and remember that one of the best ways we can deal with these enormous challenges is to invest in ourselves - to invest in our own skill base. If we can take care of some of our basic needs and live more simply using mostly local, sustainable resources, we're going to have a much smoother road ahead."
As the old adage goes, give a person a fish, she will eat fish for a day; teach a person to fish, she'll eat fish for a lifetime. In this spirit, EcoPerth hopes to give people some practical tools to live with a lighter and smaller "eco-logical" footprint. They are also hoping to convey the message that living eco-logically can also be simple and fun. 
Sebastien Bacharach, who will be talking about advanced compost at the EcoSkills Sampler, agrees. "I think people get tired of hearing all the bad news about the environment. I want to give them more solutions - things they can do differently. I love compost because it teaches people to think differently about their waste - and then they can use it in their gardens to grow their own food."
For those who will be attending the full day of presentations, a light lunch of soup and a bun - prepared by Judy Dempsey of the Hungry Planet from mostly local and organic ingredients - will be included. Cheryl Nash of EcoPerth says: "Food is such a big part of enjoying friends and community. The fact that we'll be having a meal prepared with as many local and organic ingredients as we can source, simply reinforces the message that with a little extra thought and effort, eco-friendly can be really do-able - and tasty too."
Some people grew up learning the types of skills and practices, which we now call ecologically-sound, from their grandparents and their parents - it was just a part of everyday life. For others, especially those who grew up in big cities, the idea of storing carrots and cabbage in the root cellar for the entire winter may be quite foreign. Yet for beginners and experts alike, there can be plenty of enjoyment to be had in making a batch of sauerkraut or a batch of biodiesel from used vegetable oil - or in this case, teaching friends how to do it.
The EcoSkills Sampler will be held at McMartin House in Perth, from 9:00am to 4:00pm. The cost is: $20 for the day including lunch; $20 for a half-day with lunch; or $10 for a half-day without lunch. All proceeds will go to fund future EcoPerth projects. Please register by contacting 613-268-2907 or email bonitaford[at]gmail[dot]com.


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