Six-year-old Sophie Wickins stopped by the Waskasoo Environmental Education Society booth to check out the wildlife on Saturday. More than two dozen exhibitors turned out for the EcoLiving Fair at Red Deer College.

EcoLiving Fair promotes sustainability

Environmental-themed fair at Red Deer College drew dozens of exhibitors.

Red Deer’s EcoLiving Fair asks the question: Is there a better way?

More than two dozen entrepreneurs and groups united in the conviction that the answer is ‘yes’ gathered at Red Deer College on Saturday.

Visitors were challenged to look from a different perspective at the way we drive, live, build, eat, drink and manage our environment and health at the event hosted by ReThink Red Deer and the college. Workshops on everything from beekeeping and rainwater harvesting to solar energy were held throughout the day.

Brenda Barritt represented Alberta Food Matters, an organization dedicated to reconnecting people, land and food. It works to achieve this by connecting the many community initiatives across the province aimed at taking a more sustainable approach to producing the food we eat.

Besides showcasing their efforts to the public, the EcoLiving Fair gives vendors an opportunity to talk about their progress and new initiatives, said Barritt, who runs Alix-based Earth Works Farms, which produces pasture-raised GMO-free chicken, turkey, beef and pork.

”The reason we want to be here and why I love coming is it’s helping us build the community of people who are working on these kinds of community initiatives.”

Denise and Jeff O’Reilly have found a niche in offering heirloom and open-pollinated seeds through their Cherhill, Alta.-based company, A’Bunadh Seeds.

Heirloom seeds are those that have been around for at least 50 years and remain unchanged.

“Lots of those seeds came with homesteaders and people like that,” said Denise. “Some of mine go back to 1890.”

Open-pollinated seeds, unlike hybrids, will produce the same plant with no variations year after year.

Heirloom seeds adapt well to different environments and, better yet, the fruits and vegetables they produce are tastier.

“When people come back to heirlooms, they say ‘Wow, so that’s what a tomato is supposed to taste like.’”

Tanya Wells, of the Kerry Wood Nature Centre-based Waskasoo Environmental Education Society, said one of their goals was to spread the word about their latest projects, accessible heritage community gardens which will be at Fort Normandeau just west of the city.

“It will have crushed limestone trails and raised beds so that anybody with disabilities doesn’t have to get down on the ground to do any picking.”

A second is going to go at Sunnybrook Farm Museum.

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