Thousands enjoy Earth Day festivals



Richmond Times-Dispatch | Posted: Sunday, April 21, 2013 12:00 am


Julian and Alex Moya eagerly grabbed handfuls of dirt and began filling their hand-painted plant boxes.


When asked what sorts of plants they’d like to grow in them, Julian, 5, asked for a tomato plant, while his brother, 6, chose a pepper plant.


The dirt and plants were courtesy of Backyard Farmers, a Richmond-based eco-friendly services company.


The boys’ mother, Wendy Moya, said her family lives in an apartment at the moment but soon will be moving to a home in Richmond’s North Side — where her sons can plant all the vegetables they can eat.


The Moyas were among thousands of folks who spent a beautiful Saturday afternoon at Earth Day festivals in the city.


The RVA Earth Day Festival, now in its fourth year, took place in the Manchester area of the city, from Plant Zero to Fourth Street.


More than 6,000 people visited last year, and organizers estimated at least that many Saturday.


Food vendors sold locally sourced fresh food on compostable dinnerware. A variety of others offered advice on everything from compost and rain barrels to making homes more energy-efficient.


Ethan Seltzer, founder and executive director of locally based Energy Cycle, ran a booth Saturday featuring pedal-powered phone-charging stations.


Anyone needing to recharge a cellphone was able to do it — if they were willing to hop on a bicycle.


His company, he said, educates the public about energy conservation.


“We want people to get on bikes and understand how much energy it takes to produce electricity,” he said. For example, adults pedal about 100 watts per hour and that intensity produces about 21/2 minutes of electricity for your standard electric oven.  In other words, “that wouldn’t even heat it up.”


Across the river at the 17th Street Farmers’ Market, the Richmond Earth Day Festival featured more vendors, food and entertainment.


EarthCraft Virgnia Executive Director KC McGurren spent the day talking with folks about the nonprofit’s services.


EarthCraft, a third-party certifiication organization, often works with builders and contractors during a home’s construction to make sure the home is as eco-friendly as possible.


In all, it has certified more than 2,000 single-family homes across Virginia as well as 10,000 multifamily units.


“A lot of people think ‘green’ building and they think solar panels and bamboo flooring,” McGurren said. But the process for building an eco-friendly home should start midconstruction, she said, and include such areas as heating and air systems.


Near the EarthCraft table, a big draw was a small pen containing a mother goat and her 3-day-old babies. But they weren’t there just for the cuteness factor.


The goats belong to Jace Goodling and are part of his company, Goat Busters.


Let a few — or 40 — of them loose on a yard filled with unwanted brush or weeds and they’ll take care of it in no time.


“Nature’s weed eaters,” Goodling called his goats. He said he has been called to clean up small yards and those as large as 12 acres.


“We’re cheaper than any landscape company — and we fertilizer for free,” he joked.
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