Green Expo draws a large crowd

The Coon Rapids City Center was jammed with exhibitors and visitors for the fourth annual Coon Rapids Green Expo Saturday.

Darby Palm (left), 9, and her sister, Morgan Palm, 11, fill a decomposable pot with soil prior to planting seeds, all provided by the Coon Rapids Home Depot store. Kayla Rice from the Coon Rapids Home Depot had a choice of sunflower, watermelon and pumpkin seeds for kids to use on their projects.

Darby Palm (left), 9, and her sister, Morgan Palm, 11, fill a decomposable pot with soil prior to planting seeds, all provided by the Coon Rapids Home Depot store. Kayla Rice from the Coon Rapids Home Depot had a choice of sunflower, watermelon and pumpkin seeds for kids to use on their projects.

“It’s an amazing turnout,” said Colleen Sinclair, the city’s recycling coordinator who organized the event with the Coon Rapids Sustainability Commission.

Sinclair said she had received excellent feedback from those exhibiting and attending the expo.

“People are so happy,” she said. “It’s a great day.”

The expo was all about sustainability and the environment in all aspects of life and some 60 exhibitors, from both the private and public sectors, provided examples for people to browse and ask questions about.

In addition, there were five workshops in the city council chambers covering a wide variety of topics – creating non-toxic environments at home, gardening, recycling, solutions to ending hunger and changes in water patterns.

Coon Rapids resident Marcia Baudino drew a full house to the council chambers for her presentation on how to grow food at home and access more local food by turning “your yard into a food producing paradise.”

In fact, Baudino’s presentation was back by popular demand from last year’s expo, Sinclair said.

And following her 45-minute workshop in the council chambers, Baudino moved to a conference room for a follow-up session and a question and answer time.

Baudino encouraged her audience to grow vegetables in their gardens to feed their families.

Indeed, she would like to see, some of the millions of acres of land that are now devoted to lawns turned into vegetable gardens, according to Baudino.

“We should be able to feed everyone on this planet,” Baudino said.

“Cooking is not complex; it’s fun.”

Baudino’s advice was to cook in double batches, eating the first batch and freezing the second batch for another meal.

“Then you are only cooking once,” Baudino said.

Baudino had several recipes using vegetables, which could be used several different ways, she said.

“I cook a lot from July through October,” Baudino said.

She also provided tips on how to shop farmers markets and vegetable farms efficiently and gave a list of resources to people interested in growing their own vegetables and cooking them.

One book, “The Vegetable Gardeners Bible,” is a key resource with every vegetable included, according to Baudino.

The Green Expo did not just have exhibits for adults; there were also activities to interest children who came to the expo with their parents.

The Coon Rapids Home Depot provided decomposable pots along with soil and seeds (watermelon, sunflower and pumpkin) which children could plant and take home.

As well, the Coon Rapids High School Eco-Teen Club worked with children on craft projects using recyclable materials.

Besides the exhibits and children’s activities, canned goods were collected from visitors to the expo for the Beyond Horizons food shelf.

And to close the five-hour expo, winners of a raffle for a rain barrel, compost bin and other prizes were announced.

The purpose of the Green Expo was to show residents the sustainable choices that are available in foods, products and services along with the resources in the community to make sustainable lifestyle easy and affordable.

The Coon Rapids Sustainability Commission supports the Coon Rapids City Council in its efforts to promote a green, sustainable and affordable community.

Peter Bodley is at peter.bodley@ecm-inc.com

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