“Muddy Boot” fest again promotes eco lifestyle

We don’t have to trek into the far forest hinterland to find an encampment dedicated to all things sustainable. You might be surprised where we found this very well attended eco-fest …

Chris Lantaff, the owner of ‘Organics to You’, introduces his service that he says his service delivers fresh veggies to the doorstep at the Muddy Boot Organic Festival.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
As we suggested on the front page, we didn’t have to hike into the mountains to find one of the Pacific Northwest’s largest eco-fests. The late-summer outdoor festival we found was located at St. Philip Neri Church in Ladd’s Addition along SE Division Street.

This event was the 4th annual Muddy Boot Organic Festival, celebrating local organic foods and sustainable living.

Julie Gefroh, executive director of the Muddy Boot Organic Festival, says their event is as much about education as it is about having a good time, naturally that is.

“Our event brings together music, wine, and food – plus booths, workshops, speakers, and walking tours of local sustainable projects,” smiled Julie Gefroh, who served as the festival’s executive director for a second year. “We want to help people share in the experience of living naturally.”

In addition to the fun aspects of the event, said Gefroh – a self-described “enviro-mom” and certified master recycler – “We also always have a series of workshops where people can learn more about how to minimize their personal footprint on the environment. This year we brought in a panel-style format, featuring representatives from 45 different organizations.”

“The Tree Frogs” is just one of the bands serenading visitors throughout the festival.

This panel discussion told how to conduct a “Home Sustainability Audit”.

Informational panels engage guests
For example, she said, the Saturday 1 p.m. panel featured Portland Mayor Sam Adams – who, along with climate change experts, promoted the Portland Climate Action Plan. “We also had workshops on biking, home sustainability, resilient communities – these workshops are great way to engage people,” said Gefroh.

Between the workshops, visitors browsed the goods and services offered by 80 vendors, set up in the courtyard. The festival, again held on S.E. Division Street, also featured activities for kids.

Benjamin Payne learns how to start a fire, without a lighter or matches.

A project of the parish
“The festival got started when a group of parishioners here at St. Philip Neri wanted to create an event that would help bring attention to sustainable issues,” Gefroh told us. “This is a very environmentally- and forward-thinking parish. We want to share these values with people here in Portland.”

The event is mounted each year by an entirely volunteer staff, Gefroh revealed. “I became involved because I’m extremely dedicated to sustainability. This is a great way to connect with this parish community with people in Portland who feel the same way.”

In all, the 2009 event attracted about 5,000 visitors during its 2½ day run. To follow the progress of their 2010 festival, check their website: CLICK HERE.

Sharpening up her hunting skills is guest Giovanna Gioffre. She takes careful aim before of firing off for foamed tip arrow and hits bulls-eyes with every shot!

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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