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Thousands attend ECHO Food and Farm Fest

By Staff | Mar 24, 2015

They learned how to make their own peanut butter, squeezed their own orange juice and learned how people grew certain crops under specific conditions.

More than 2,000 people packed ECHO headquarters Saturday for the 23rd annual Global Food and Farm Festival, which featured fun and an opportunity to learn something for people of all ages.

The event had been known as Farm Day for many years, but changed its name to fully show what the event was really about, said Danielle Flood, communications manager at ECHO.

If the name change had an effect, it was a positive one, Flood said.

“We sold more than 500 pre-sale tickets, which was a record. We have something for everyone. There’s the educational aspect for the kids and adults and the hands-on stuff for kids to engage in learning with their whole selves,” Flood said.

The event had more than 15 educational workshops, cooking shows, demonstrations, tours and more fun activities than you could shake a stick at, including a puppet show.

The kids got to go on a scavenger hunt, where they would have to go to different stations and complete an activity. They would get their passport stamped, and if they got everything stamped they got an ECHO pin.

Damari Barney, 7, a member of the Children in Action Group, was on a mission trip he earned for being a good student. He had just visited the rainforest section and got some flags that earned him a stamp.

“We talk about missionaries and celebrate people who try to help God. We’ve been doing good here. I got all my flags and got a stamp. I’m doing good,” Barney said.

Lily Ayers, 10, another group member, had fun with the orange juice.

“I was learning about the plants and animals in the rainforest and got some flags,” Ayers said. “It’s good to learn about the plants and the environment.”

They also got to make charcoal art, make paper worms and do other fun activities.

As in previous events, people got to learn about how things grow throughout the world.

Emmalee Allen, one of more than 250 staff members, volunteers and interns who helped put on the event, worked the semi-arid station where she showed how people milked their goats.

“We’re demonstrating different techniques farmers use to better produce food in those areas,” Allen said. “They best use the limited resources they have in the area when they get rain.”

Among the presentations were how to make soap out of goat’s milk, how to make better choices at the supermarket, ancient grains, and cooking shows on how to make Bok Choy, Pad Thai, candy “sushi”, Haitian foods and simple meals for a busy family.

There was also a Farmer’s Market and a silent auction

Kay Rentchler of Oregon, who came while on vacation with some friends, got a lot out of the event and hadn’t even scratched the surface.

“I learned grafting and how they did some cooking with what little fuel they had and I’m just getting started,” Rentschler said. “Aren’t we lucky to live in the U.S.A.”

Her friend, Carol Kutzner, of North Fort Myers, is an avid supporter of ECHO having visited several African nations and witnessed how people live.