Technology with attitude

Green Festival 2011 Offers Organics, Innovations, and much, much more

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Green Festival Seattle 2011. Photo: Dan Coxon.

The 2011 Green Festival took place this past weekend at the Qwest Field Events Center in Seattle, bringing with it a host of innovations and green products, as well as some truly energizing and eye-opening speakers. If you missed the event, don’t worry – there are more Green Festivals to come later this year, including stops in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, so be sure to check their website for future dates and tickets.

The Seattle festival was as energetic and illuminating as fans of the annual event have come to expect, with attractions ranging from local gardening advice to national environmental campaigns – via the samples at the organic chocolate tables, naturally. The two-day festival also offered a small beer and wine garden for the responsible adults, while the food options included a host of vegetarian delights, including felafel, burritos, and meat-free sausages.

As for the exhibitors, they ranged from the big multinationals to the small local producers, although most went against the overriding ethic of reusing and recycling, instead encouraging us to spend our way to environmental sainthood. It was hard to miss the Ford exhibit at the festival’s heart, a fascinating look at everything the car manufacturer is doing to make itself sustainable for the future – and if it’s to be believed, then the future will certainly see some major changes to the automobile industry. A cutaway of their all-electric car provided a highlight for home mechanics everywhere, from the DC-DC Converter to the advanced Vehicle Control Unit, while the other displays gave some comforting facts and figures, including the fact that post-consumer cotton, nylon, yarns and plastics are now used to make everything from the battery tray to the roof lining. For more on electric cars, visit

Inside Ford's electric car at the 2011 Green Festival. Photo: Dan Coxon.

Among the other exhibitors there were too many exciting new products and services to mention them all, but amateur chefs and home gardeners would do well to check out the easy-to-grow mushroom kit from Back to the Roots. The idea is simple: you cut open the front of the kit, moisten the coffee grounds inside twice a day, and your organic oyster mushrooms grow before your eyes (well, in as little as ten days, anyway). They guarantee at least three harvests from a single kit, and apparently some users have reported twice that. Even if you don’t like mushrooms yourself, it seems the perfect gift for the fungi in your life.

Seattle urban gardening project We Patch also made an impact, helping to connect those of us who love to garden but don’t have the space, with those who have more yard than they know what to do with. By registering your needs on their website you can hopefully hook up with someone who has gardening space to spare (or someone who wants to plant in that unused patch of ground you have), and everyone wins. It just goes to show that some of the best ideas are deceptively simple.

Of course, no Green festival would be complete without its speakers, and there were many different voices to be enjoyed on the day, from the inspirational call-to-arms of the Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr, to the financial advice of David Korten. For those who believe that true change starts at home, Seattle author and gardener Bill Thorness also provided an early highlight, sharing not only his tips and insights for a thriving heirloom garden, but also some of his seeds and beans. Thanks to Bill Thorness the Cherokee Trail of Tears bean and the Painted Lady will be sharing space in even more Northwest gardens this year.

There was plenty more happening at both days of the Green Festival, so if you missed out this time around be sure to check out their website, or follow them on Facebook or Twitter. The next round of Green Festivals starts on October 1, 2011, in New York.