I finally have time to sit down and write about the best conference I’ve ever been to: The Bedford Environmental Summit. If you were one of the hundreds of people they had to turn away so they could stay within fire code regulations, I’m truly sorry you missed it. The Summit organizers had hoped for 650 attendees, and they exceeded that number two days before the event started through online ticket sales. They sold over 1,000 tickets, indicative of the region’s need and desire to get actively involved in making local, sustainable change! The workshops and lectures were educational and fascinating, the vendor areas were buzzing and the food fantastic. There was a general air of excitment and enthusiam and cooperation that was deeply inspiring.
There is so much I could tell, but I’ll just share a few personal highlights. Bob Woodruff, who anchors “Focus Earth,” a weekly eco-newscast for Planet Green, told an inspiring story about a town that went from 10% to 92% of households recycling through coordinated efforts with the town and local businesses. I plan on finding out the details and I’m sure many people in the audience were wondering if Katonah/ Bedford could do the same, given that the current state of recycling is pretty low percentage-wise, and I heard talk that the current operator of the recycling facility is losing so much money they might not be renewing their contract. I got to listen to famed sustainable chef Michel Nischan talk about local foods and sustainable eating. An interesting focus was the need for a change in our mentalities surrounding food. Though a chef, he said we as a nation eat out too much, to which I agree. We generally don’t consider eating what is grown in our area, and how the media-created drive for ‘variety’ effects the planet.
In between lectures there was fantastic regional and sustainably produced foods organized by TABLE Local Market and wonderful volunteers. It was some of the best food I’ve seen at an expo. The vendor rooms were filled with people who were there to educate and share as much as to promote what they are doing. The room was buzzing all day long with people there to learn from people out doing things hands-on for the environment in the fields and in the research institutes and in the building industries.
Photo: Charene, Helene and Heather in front of Near and Natural’s sample table. I spoke with Erika Haberkorn who has is a home eco-consultant in Katonah and even helps to prepare organic kids meals. Helene and Charene from Near and Natural market in Bedford Village were there talking with people about local foods and sharing samples from regional producers. I had a fascinating talk with Highfields Institute composting consultants from Vermont. We discussed ‘compostable’ disposable take-out products and how we could locally implement food waste collection programs!
Jim Nordgren of the Bedford Audobon Society talked with me about plans for the Bylane Farm on Todd Road in Katonah. I’m looking forward to discussing upcoming events and the garden programs they’ll be doing there.
I didn’t get to speak with Synergis Waste, but noticed that they had organized waste collection of compostable disposable cups, food and napkins at the summit. I’m hoping to see this more at large events.
I got to learn about Teich Garden Systems developed by Mark Teich of South Salem. He has lots of inspiring stories of super-easy, low-maintenance garden systems being installed in schools and senior residential living facilities so they can grow food easily.
I spent close to half an hour with DJ of Bedford Bee Honeybee Service getting educated in bee hive management and discussing his theories on Colony Collapse Disorder and the dependence of commercial fruit producers on bee colonies. I’m looking forward to working with DJ to do more local public education on backyard beekeeping.
You can look through the Summit’s website to see powerpoint presentations from various presenters, and also links to regional ‘green’ businesses and organizations that partnered with the Energy Advisory Panel to support this event.
“The real work of planet-saving will be small, humble and humbling… and, insofar as it involves love, rewarding. Its jobs will be too many to count, too modest to make anyone rich or famous.” – Wendell Berry
With this enthusiasm for making change happen locally, I can’t wait to see what’s next from the Bedford Energy Advisory Panel who were the originators of this event. I don’t have room to mention every one of the great people I met with, but stay in touch!
Check the Calendar for upcoming Events by visiting the blog and looking on the left hand column.
Green Events This Weekend: