The Pennsylvania Renewable Energy and Sustainable Living Festival was featured in mid-September at the Kempton Community Center, where all things green were red hot.
The focus was on alternative sources of energy and organics. There were many booths and lecturers touting these sources of energy and locally grown food.
Entry from the parking lot was through a geodesic dome. Raffle tickets were available for a Martin Guitar and an electric bike.
The first exhibits were farm-oriented, but in the near distance could be seen an orange installation of overlapping triangles by Frenchman Oscar Lloveras. Though he often uses handmade Japanese paper, this one was from parachute material because of the time element.
Lloveras says in the program, "I want viewers to have a feeling in their stomach when they see it. It must provoke something inside them, create a reaction or else it is not art. It is merely a decoration."
The 60-foot poles were installed by Met Ed.
With the focus on compostables, items such as plastic and paper plates were made of materials that can be composted. Barrels were available for compostables, recyclables and the few items for landfills. Plastic tableware was made from corn and could not be used in hot coffee because it melts at 180 degrees.
The anti-sludge people were on hand providing information about the dangers of its continued use in farming. A booth visitor described its use on a field along Route 737 as producing a "fishy and acrid" odor. Only eight toxins are tested for by he Environmental Protection Agency but many others have been found in sludge. The land application of sewage sludge is a highly controversial topic in the United States and Europe.
Jonathan's Spoons of Kempton was among the top five earning awards at the New York International Gift Show for sustainability of its cherry wood cut from the Allegheny Forest. See www.spoon.com.
Home funeral care information was provided by A Natural Undertaking. See naturalundertaking.org.
The Lehigh Valley Food Cooperative was founded by Sherry Kramer to get local farmers to work together and provide a place for them to sell local products. The co-op focuses on organics but has other products. Their building is at 860 Broad Street, Emmaus. People can order online and pick up their products on Thursdays. There are also Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton locations. See lvfood.coop.
Bert Dirsa carried sign boards offering windmill stuff for sale. The Topton man is selling a friend's supplies to close out an estate. Email windmillman@aol.
Matt Polis, the announcer, said the energy festival has grown every year with more vendors and more lectures. He said he personally was a past president of the Albany Township Environmental Advisory Council and is now on an Environmental Action Committee. Albany's was the first EAC after the state set up a mechanism for townships to form one.
He said there were new exotic food vendors such as Nancy's Mediterranean and Global Libations.
Bob Flatley who makes everything happen, said Josh Fox, who directed the "Gas Lands" movie, was there as a speaker.
Jesse Pelman of Lancaster, a builder, talked about how old construction practices can be updated for today's homes.
"Who doesn't love a great stone house, something that was going to last made with stones from the field. I made a house of stainless steel but the material was shipped 700 miles. People have to decide what they want. Sustainable is not an easy thing," he said.
Of note was the fact that the tents for lectures were larger and there were seats for everyone.
Robert Swaim, the bike man from Emmaus, demonstrated bikes of rare designs such as the Penn State Preview and the Conference bike. Swaim, a retired educator, is well known locally and has presented programs in recent years at the Panther Valley Middle School and Tamaqua Heritage Festival.
As in past years, his demonstrations at Kempton drew a crowd. The Preview is a bike for three. On the Conference bike, riders sit in a circle. One Trikke (scooter) was propelled by turning in a serpentine manner while another was propelled by the rider opening and closing his legs. Even Swaim looked a little tired from that ride.
Gary Sutterlin was offering Breeze Dryers as a method of saving electricity. They are clotheslines for the outdoors. His sister bought one years ago and Sutterlin saw how well built they were and got a distributorship. See www.breezedryer.com.
Louise Schaefer of Edge of the Woods native plant nursery said the festival was a good fit with their product. Native plants benefit other wildlife while needing less care.
Jeff Zehr of The Seed Farm, a farmland preservationist, helps train new farmers. The Farm has 25 acres of the Lehigh County-owned 451-acre Seem Seed Farm. A person does a one-year apprenticeship and then can lease land to work for himself along with greenhouse use and equipment. Then the new farmer is transitioned to other purchased or leased land and is on his own.
The motto is "Growing new farmers for the future." See www.theseedfarm.org.
The BAD FARM was offering samples of cheese made from raw milk. Beth and Dave Rice of 86 Wieder Road Kempton, also sell the raw milk.
The children's activity area has expanded to include portraits, clay modeling and face painting. There is bike-operated spin art and a drum circle with other simple percussion instruments for children.
"The amazing thing is that everyone is here to make this a better place, to improve the world, and how wonderful is that," said Polis.