Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival Features Capoeira, Jugglers, Alpacas and SOL Food Kitchen
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
View Web Site
The first stop on my three day, eco-friendly tour of Santa Barbara started on April 17 and led straight up State Street, by bike of course, to attend the inaugural Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival at Alameda Park. The holiday has special significance in town, since Earth Day didn’t even exist before a massive oil spill hit Santa Barbara beaches in 1969. That catastrophe had a disastrous impact on the local environment, but it did foment change and drew the attention of Senator Gaylord Nelson, who spearheaded the bill that established Earth Day. 42 years later, Santa Barbara’s Community Environmental Council presented a day of programming that spanned three city blocks and even managed to instill the event with culinary energy.
My memorable three-hour visit started with a stop at the complimentary bike valet station, which parked hundreds of bikes throughout the course of the day. After that, it was a free form exploration of booths devoted to eco-friendly design and building materials, green practices and best of all, local, organic and sustainable food, with copious curiosities in between.
West Ranch sold skeins of yarn from alpacas, which are highly sustainable (and a prized protein in their native Peru, which is disturbing for somebody who took a llama care class at Camp Hidden Valley in Freedom, Maine, where I tended to their cousins). Alpacas bite grass cleanly instead of pulling from the root thanks to lower teeth and upper “bite pad.” Pads and toenails cause less impact on ground than hooves. The animals also have three stomachs. Lucky them.
2011 was the first year for SOL Food Kitchen, which showcased sustainable, organic and local ingredients. Chef Crystal Harris, better known as Pink, runs Lick Your Plate Events and previously worked at Square One in town. She appeared behind the grill – yes, sporting pink hair – to help fund October’s inaugural SOL Food Festival.
A sign advertised October’s event and also referred to the day’s food, saying, “The festival was born out of a desire to show how SOL food can be used as a tool to create happier, healthier and more sustainable communities. We celebrate the local farmers, chefs, organizations and individuals who are working to better our food system and encourage the general public to participate in this growing movement.”
SOL featured a map of participating farmers near the ordering window, pinpointing the location of producers like Spring Hill Cheese (Jersey cow’s milk cheese), Life’s a Choke (artichokes) and Shepherd Farms (greens, strawberries and root vegetables).
If the Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival turns out to be a small representation of what SOL offers in October, great. If not, the event was still a success due to its diversity of experiences, setting and true flavor.