WIMBERLEY —Whether you have lived in Hays County all your life or migrated here to escape a city, the recent drought has been an eye-opening reminder of how closely we are tied to the land. This “exceptional” drought – as the weather service calls it – has been a challenge to our wells, grasses, gardens, trees, wildlife, rivers and creeks. Not to mention our patience, temper and sense of well-being.
City folk may enjoy the luxury of running faucets as long as they want, planting water-gulping lawns, building homes that drink energy and counting on the fire station down the block for protection. But out here, we know a great deal of protecting the value, use and beauty of our home and property depends on our own sound planning and decision-making.
Wimberley Eco Fest 2009: Living Greener in the Hill Country is scheduled for Saturday, October 17, and is aimed at providing a little help. Sponsored by Citizens Alliance for Responsible Development (CARD), Eco Fest is a free day of entertainment and ideas offering seminars, booths and activities that will just about fill Katherine Anne Porter School, located at 515 Farm Market 2325, right next to Market Days in the heart of Wimberley. The six-hour event, from 10 am to 4:30pm, features a dozen experts giving talks and answering your questions on subjects chosen to offer help to Hays County residents eager to make practical, cost efficient and environmentally sound decisions on their property. There will also be mini-seminars put on by the Hays County Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalists, plus environmental minded booths from businesses and groups, a children’s activity room and much more.
“We wanted to create an event that offered free, practical, every day advice for all residents of Western Hays County, advice that would also benefit the land and environment, now and in the future,” said CARD organizer Jim McMeans. “Our group was established two years ago to oppose some of the unsound development practices that have been hurting all area residents and which threaten to destroy the very nature of this special place we love. We feel it is just as important for us to promote good practices as to oppose bad ones, and Eco Fest is one way to do that.”
Eco Fest 2009’s keynote speaker is well-known Austin green architect Peter L. Pfeiffer, of Austin’s Barley & Pfeiffer, at 3:00pm. You may have seen Peter featured recently giving a tour of his family’s own beautiful, but very energy-efficient, home on Discovery Channel’s “World’s Greenest Homes.” He’s a very popular speaker and his talks are lively interactions with lots of sensible, cool and surprising ideas for building, remodeling or retrofitting.
In addition, one or more speakers will be featured every hour. Jamie Kinscherff, land manager for Canyon Gorge, and his Argus Ecoservices business partner Karen Archer, will present a program on land stewardship, with practical ideas to protect and enhance our properties.
Bryan Davis, familiar to many Hays citizens as a popular former Hays County Extension Agent (currently County Extension Agent for Natural Resources, Texas AgriLife Extension Service, in Bexar County) presents a program on smart wildlife management for the small acreage owner.
Landscape architect and permaculture designer Elizabeth McGreevy, currently writing a book on mountain cedar (ashe juniper), cuts through some of the vast misinformation about this seemingly omnipresent plant and what really should, and should not, be done about it.
Malcolm Beck, founder of Gardenville and a frequent voice on radio gardening shows, gives tips on organic gardening.
Richard Heinichen, co-author of Rainwater Collection for the Mechanically Challenged, a long-time rainwater advocate, owner of Tank Town and bottler of Richard’s Rainwater, answers all your questions on how to kick the well-water habit and drink from the clouds.
Eric Beckers of the Texas Forest Service will give advice on the ever-present danger of oak wilt, while Jan Fulkerson, Urban Wildland Interface Specialist for the Texas Forest Service will present ways to protect our homes from fire danger.
A representative of the Pedernales Electric Cooperative (PEC) brings ideas on energy conservation and home weatherizing. And while flooding may be the farthest thing from our minds as the drought goes on, a speaker will remind us that often our drought years are followed by severe floods, and what to do to prepare ourselves.
Eco Fest offers free parking and free admission. The Katherine Anne Porter School (KAPS) will supply food and beverages for sale, so you can stick around for as many talks as possible. Booth space is still available for appropriate displays: contact Matt Heineman, 512-944-4323 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, check the CARD website at www.hayscard.org.