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Folk Festival gets greener every year

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I was thrilled to join many of my fellow Wolseleyites at Birds Hill Park last month as the Winnipeg Folk Festival celebrated its 40th year.

The connection between the Wolseley neighbourhood and the festival runs deep — many of the performers, staff members and volunteers call Wolseley home, as does festival co-founder Mitch Podolak and the head chefs at La Cuisine, Alex and Danielle Carignan-Svenne (from Bistro 7¼ fame).

Wolseley and the Folk Festival also proudly share a common concern for the planet. Amidst the amazing music, peaceful crowds and gorgeous new site layout, this year the Folk Festival added some new environmental features to an already impressive green resume.

For the past 15 years I’ve been a proud Folk Festival volunteer working on the food waste composting program. Starting as a simple pilot project, we had just one backyard bin for the entire volunteer kitchen area called "La Cuisine." It wasn’t nearly big enough to handle all the food waste from thousands of volunteer meals each day, so we added more bins and then expanded so the local restaurants on-site could compost too.  

Another big eco-step forward happened when the Festival switched to reusable plates for every meal. At the "plate return" stations, any leftover food goes into mobile compost bins from Samborski Garden Supplies. All the cutlery, bowls and cups on-site are fully compostable.  Compost bins are now available in the public eating areas too, so any leftover food can be captured and turned back into soil.

Bringing some of that new soil back to Folk Festival became possible this year thanks to a brand-new garden our crew helped build backstage in the La Cuisine area. Head chefs Danielle and Alex will harvest herbs and other perennials from the garden to flavour future La Cuisine meals for years to come.

Buying locally-produced food is also a priority at La Cuisine.  "All of the meat, dairy and eggs this year were made in Manitoba", says Danielle.  "We got some local produce this year too which was great!"  Even the new permanent outdoor structure where La Cuisine volunteers work their magic is eco-friendly, with 90% of the materials reclaimed from other structures.

Take a well-deserved Main Stage bow Folkies and here’s to another 40 years of greening the Festival!

If you are interested in more information on greening initiatives in your community, please contact my office at 204-775-8575 or at Rob.Altemeyer@YourManitoba.ca

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