The spirit of environmental consciousness will plank Forsyth Park’s 30 acres during the annual Savannah Earth Day Festival on April 15, a week ahead of the national holiday celebrated April 22.
The local event is more of a communal gathering here in coastal Georgia, and serves as an important opportunity for local government, businesses, nonprofits and community groups to connect with the public and each other. Together, the community is poised to gain useful information to move forward as good stewards of the environment.
“Every day should be Earth Day, really,” said Joanne Morton, director of operations for Massive Events, the organizers of the annual fest. “This is a celebration that arms the community with information to continue that fight throughout the year. To protect our Earth.”
Read more about Savannah's March for Science here.
When the first Earth Day celebration was held in 1970, the goal was to unite the nation’s fragmented environmental movement to better reach the public and mobilize a response to water and air quality issues. While many Earth Day festivals take place around the state and country each year, Savannah’s is one of the few that is still truly focused on education and activism, rather than crafts and entertainment.
Modeled after the early Earth Day celebrations, the goal of the Savannah Earth Day Festival is to open dialogues about environmental issues affecting Savannah. A festival of tents draped within the ancient live oaks will welcome citizens. Additionally, a wide variety of exhibitors and workshops will offer something for everyone.
Workshop topics include food preservation, the effects of fast fashion, urban gardens, presentations from both the Ogeechee and Savannah Riverkeepers and much more. These are free for everyone. Workshops begin at 11:30 a.m. and continue until 2:30 p.m.
The event is also family-friendly. The kids will color the world with an interactive art project and global learning game at the Au Pair in America booth, create more art with Loop It Up Savannah, explore a labyrinth courtesy of the Charles Ellis Montessori Academy Beta Club and get those much-needed wiggles out with yoga.
New this year, in the parking lot near the Visitors’ Center, two Nissan Leafs will be on display, and a workshop on electric cars begins at 11:30 a.m. Tour a tiny house and take a walk with the Savannah Tree Foundation at 11 a.m., beginning at the Candler Oak near the Law School on Drayton. Stretch and move with Alexandra from Savannah Yoga Center, and gorge yourself on vegan food with several food trucks and vendors. Transportation is easy with a free bicycle valet provided by the Savannah Bicycle Campaign.
Other exhibitors include 100 Miles, UGA Extension Chatham County, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, Youth For A Cleaner Environment, Clean Coast, Sierra Club, Tybee Island Marine Science Center, SCAD Design for Sustainability, Eat Grow Repeat, and Savannah Urban Garden Alliance.
Earth Day provides a venue for exhibitors to get their names out, educate the public about their causes, network with each other and recruit new members or clients. This has not only strengthened the environmental network in Savannah, but has also generated new activists and organizations by introducing many to these issues for the first time.
“You see and meet the people that are working really hard to make a difference to keep our planet safe and clean for future generations,” said Morton.
IF YOU GO
What: Savannah Earth Day Festival
When: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 15
Where: Forsyth Park
Tent One: Riverkeepers
11:30 a.m. The Savannah Harbor presented by Savannah Riverkeeper
12:30 p.m. Watersheds and Basic Hydrology by Savannah Riverkeeper
1:30 p.m. Fisheries by Ogeechee Riverkeeper
2:30 p.m. Wetlands, Marshes and Spaces in Between by Savannah and Ogeechee Riverkeepers
Tent Two: Homesteading
11:30 a.m. Defender of Bees by Jane Quattlebaum
12:30 p.m. Composting: Feed the Food that Feeds You by Grow-eat-repeat
1:30 p.m. Growing Shiitake Mushroomd by Green Freedom Farms
2:30 p.m. Dispelling the Fear of Snakes! by Oatland Island Wildlife Center
Tent Three: Energy Conservation
11:30 a.m. Electric Cars – An Owner’s Perspective by Kelly Bringman
12:30 p.m. Clean Green Tips by Chatham County Cooperative Extension
1:30 p.m. Solar Energy 101 by Coastal Solar
2:30 p.m. Water-Wise Tips for Your Life and the Environment by Water Utility Management
Tent Four: Gardening
11:30 a.m. Edible Perennial Plants for the Home Landscape by Savannah Victory Gardens
12:30 p.m. Companion Planting by Mixed Greens
1:30 p.m. Elderberry: Grandmother of the Garden by Georgia’s Lowcountry Chapter of American Herbalists Guild
2:30 p.m. Preserving Food from your Garden Chatham County Cooperative Extension
Tent Five: Sustainable Connections
11:30 a.m. The Effects of Fast Fashion on Earth by House of Strut
12:30 p.m. Lobbying for our Planet by a panel of multiple organizations
1:30 p.m. Meet Savannah’s Urban Gardners by city of Savannah Sustainability Department
2:30 p.m. Share Your SA.GA. by SCAD Design for Sustainability program