The desertSMART EcoFair is Central Australia’s premier science and sustainability event and is organised by the Arid Lands Environment Centre as part of National Science Week.
EcoFair aims to educate, inspire and activate the community around science and sustainability issues, and features high profile speakers, engaging panels and workshops, and films.
Since 2009 the Ecofair has connected thousands of people to science and sustainability in Alice Springs.
desertSMART Ecofair 2017
In 2017 special guests included Associate Professor Bernadette McCabe (National Centre for Engineering in Agriculture, University of Southern Queensland), Science Communicator Giles Parkinson (Renew Economy) and desertSMART EcoFair ambassador Costa Georgiadis (Gardening Australia).
Eco-Science Schools Day – Friday 11th August, 2017
The Eco-Science Schools Day 2017 was held in the Olive Pink Botanic Gardens and was a great success, with 300 Alice Springs students participating from nine different schools, including a remote community school.
A total of 13 different workshops were facilitated by local and interstate scientists and science educators covering topics such as health, climate change, land management, feral pest management, recycling, engineering, biodiversity, water conservation, mining impacts, and science and sustainability.
Funding to expand the Eco-Science Schools Day in 2018 will be sought, as the demand for the event was high, with organisers having to turn away more than 300 students. Next year it is hoped that the event can run over two days.
783 ABC Outside Broadcast
The Great Science Quiz was again a popular feature of the 783 ABC Outside broadcast from the Bean Tree Café at the Olive Pink Botanic Garden, which also included interviews with desertSMART Ecofair guests and music by Nicole Pietsch.
Alice Springs Bicycle Film Festival
More than 300 people attended the Alice Springs Bicycle Film Festival, which featured international and local films about the humble bicycle. There were 9 local entries into the film festival this year, with the quirky film “Magpie” winning the popular choice award.
Food for Alice
An influx of fantastic local produce and a visit by Costa Georgiadis made for a special Food for Alice local produce market as part of EcoFair.
Bush Medicine Workshop
There was high demand for the Bush Medicine workshop facilitated by Purple House, Western Desert Dialysis. Participants learned how to make bush medicine and could take home their own tub of the product and the end of the workshop.
Garden to Plate – Saturday 12th August, 2017
The Garden to Plate event, held at the Alice Springs Community Garden was a great success, with over 100 people learning about gardening, sustainability and health amidst the vibrancy of the community gardens. The event featured:
Green thumbs with Costa
Approximately 50 local community members joined the ABC’s Costa Georgiadis, local horticulturist Geoff Miers and Alice Springs Community Garden member Bruce Simmons to learn key aspects of gardening in the arid regions of Australia. They learnt about soil preparation techniques, composting tips, watering and mulching.
Science at Sunset
Associate Professor Bernadette McCabe, from the University of Southern Queensland, demonstrated to an interested audience of 50 people the potential for Australia to close the loop on organic waste, by taking food waste and other organic materials and using them in a local waste-to-energy projects to produce biogas, heat and local organic fertiliser.
Bush Wok Cook-Off
Rayleen Price from Kungas Can Cook spoke about the local bush food market and its international significance before introducing the inaugural Bush Wok Cook-Off, organised by local nutritionist Ray Price. Five teams competed in a cooking competition using bush woks, local garden produce and bush foods to create a fantastic feast, which was shared between the audience at the end of the evening. 100 people attended this event and it was a highlight of the EcoFair program.
Sustainable Living Festival – Sunday 13th August, 2017
More than 600 people attended the Sustainable Living Festival at Snow Kenna Park and enjoyed panels, feature presentations, workshops and the community eco-market.
Two panels were delivered on the day, including Learn to Live desertSMART which suggested practical ways to make a difference to daily living by local experts in the fields of water, energy, waste and gardening. The second panel was titled Excellent Adventures: Sustaining tourism in Central Australia and reflect 2017 being the International Year of Sustainable Tourism. Panelists from a range of tourism organisations explored the concept of sustainable tourism, the challenges and the aspirations for the sector.
The feature presentation was by Giles Parkinson from Renew Economy and explored the rapidly advancing renewable energy technologies and how they are being integrated into the energy mix in communities across Australia.
Workshops included community-owned solar, closing the loop on food waste in Alice Springs, and on making bee-friendly gardens. 40 community stalls were represented at the Sustainable Living Festival reporting good engagement with community members.