The sixth annual Applefest! taking place Aug. 11 at Galt Gardens highlights southern Alberta’s harvest time for the popular fruit, but it’s about more than just apples.
Organized by the Lethbridge Sustainable Living Association, the annual event is one of the primary vehicles for encouraging people to think about the benefits of a more sustainable lifestyle.
“It’s about what people can do to make themselves more sustainable; how they can live more sustainably,” said Dil Jopp, vice-president of the LSLA.
Jopp said in a society that is highly focused on disposability, it’s important to encourage a long-term view to counter the throw-away approach that only serves to eat up landfill space and waste resources. There are little things people can do on a daily basis to accomplish that, she noted — “Think about their daily purchases mindfully and where their food comes from.”
It’s an approach Jopp tries to employ in her own life.
“I’d rather buy something grown in B.C. than the States,” she said.
Avoiding food wastage is another step, and the LSLA encourages that through its Fruit Rescue Program, which Jopp describes as a kind of “fruit hookup service.”
“We connect people who have fruit trees with people who want to pick.”
Jopp said Lethbridge is home to about 8,000 fruit trees, but every year much of the crop goes to waste. By putting fruit tree owners in touch with volunteers willing to pick the fruit, that waste can be reduced. The common arrangement is the fruit tree owners keep one-third of the harvested crop, the pickers keep one-third, and the remaining third goes to a local food bank.
“Everyone goes away happy,” said Jopp.
The LSLA website notes the program has successfully diverted thousands of pounds of fruit from going to waste.
Applefest! gives the public an opportunity to bring their own apples and have them juiced onsite. This year organizers will be employing a new apple press purchased with the help of a July 16 fundraiser held at the Owl Acoustic Lounge.
The event raised $2,000, said Jopp, giving the LSLA the funds for the new apple press, which cost more than $3,000.
Applefest! is much more than apples. The event will also feature a Kid Zone, learning tents, live music, a local/sustainable food truck, a selection of local and handmade vendors, apple “beer” tents, and a showcase of local businesses, organizations and people who are initiating a more sustainable Lethbridge.
The event will run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Galt Gardens in downtown Lethbridge.
Attendance at Applefest! has grown from the inaugural event in 2013.
“The numbers have risen lots from the beginning,” said Jopp. “Facebook has been a big help for that.”
The LSLA received an $1,100 grant from the Heart of the City committee to help fund this year’s Applefest! Other key sponsors include Purple Carrot Health Foods and Wellness and Solar Optix, and the Pogo Brothers will sponsor the beer garden.
For more about Applefest! or the Lethbridge Sustainable Living Association, visit the website http://www.lethbridgesustainableliving.org.