Getting to the roots of climate repair – even at a Garlic Festival

By ANNA GYORGY
Friday, October 05, 2018
(printed on Thursday: https://www.recorder.com/my-turn-gyorgy-GarlicFest9-29-20297770)

Hurricanes wreak destruction in the Carolinas, the Philippines and beyond. A season of out-of-control wildfires, drought in some areas, floods in others should have brought home to all the reality of climate change, and related disruption.

So what to do? Clearly action is needed on every level – to make the best of a changing climate and to prevent the worst that may come. Controlling greenhouse gas emissions by phasing out fossil fuels is important. But so is ecological and economic change, starting at home.

“Localization” can do a lot for our health and economy. Eating food grown and bought locally saves long-distance transport while providing jobs close to home and keeping area farmland in production. It tastes better too! Our communities can pollute less, localize more, and work on what is called eco-restoration. It’s all about regeneration, as opposed to loss and devastation.

We are lucky that engaged people in our area come together to showcase local agriculture and arts. This past weekend, the North Quabbin Garlic & Arts Festival celebrated 20 years of presenting the best in locally produced foods and crafts, entertainment on the main stage, spoken word presentations, children’s activities and much more.

The part of the festival that focuses most directly on ecology and regeneration could be found at the “Portal to the Future” section.

Now if a portal is a gateway and entrance, as the dictionary tells us, then why is the Festival’s “Portal to the Future” towards the back of the large festival grounds, behind the stage? Perhaps because this section — which expands a longer-running presence for presentations focusing on energy and ecology — is only in its third year. But in 2018 it is more necessary than ever, and here’s why.

Recently, I read an interesting article by journalist Dahr Jamail with both despair and hope in its title: “As the Biosphere Dies, So Do We: Using the Power of Nature to Heal the Planet.” In this review of the seriousness of the situation, there were useful links, including one to a website called Biodiversity for a Livable Climate (Bio4Climate).

There I read: “Global warming is a symptom of a much deeper problem, and to address the problem effectively we need to get to root causes: the human-caused degradation and desertification of lands worldwide. Regenerating healthy global ecosystems – and moving gigatons of carbon from the atmosphere back into the soils on billions acres of degraded land – is the answer. There is reason to believe that it’s possible to return to safe pre-industrial levels of atmospheric carbon in a matter of decades.”

What does that have to do with festivals and portals?

Well, the Garlic and Arts Festival’s Portal to the Future featured exhibits, information and talks on Renewable Energy & Local Living. In the sense of regeneration, a central exhibit will show how boring mowed lawns can be transformed into carbon catching pollinator heavens. There were free packets of Bee the Change pollinator seeds from American Meadows for every visitor.

Saturday’s talks in the Portal included presentations on solar cooperatives; renewable fuels for transportation; farm to garment bioregional clothing and textiles in Western Massachusetts; and urine diversion and use as fertilizer.

Sunday’s offerings continued with: ecological pollinator conservation from The Beecology Project; code compliant tiny homes; soil carbon sequestration in the garden & field; and green burials.

This is the kind of interesting and hands-on information and expertise we need as we imagine and work for a livable, enjoyable future on this unique planet. So I hope that many readers and their friends found their way behind the solar powered stage to the related portal exhibits and talks. And give thanks for the great work on and for regeneration being done in our area and beyond, in the face of great odds.

Anna Gyorgy is a member of the Wendell Energy Committee and lives and gardens in Wendell. A board member of the Traprock Center for Peace & Justice, she has focused on climate and peace issues. Her short video on the 2017 world climate conference in Bonn can be seen at traprock.org.