We signed up for two volunteer shifts: 2 1/2 hours in the pie sales booth followed by 2 hours helping fair-goers sort through their trash, separating items into worm compost, hot pile compost, recycling, and landfill buckets.
We started the day trying to keep the slices of blackberry, cherry berry, and apple walnut pie from Blackbird Bakery from blowing off the table in the gusts of wind, or from being drenched by the first heavy rain of the season.
The downpour cleared around noon, pie sales picked up, and then the sun came out and warmed everyone up. My friend Beth brought her young goats by the booth, and they tried to eat the yellow flowers off the tablecloth. Our human visitors were happy to stick with pie and more pie, all proceeds going to Friends of the Farms.
Ava counted back customers’ change and Mira ran our zero waste booth trash system. We set up boxes for compost (mostly errant pie crust bits and a few paper napkins), recycling (the paper pie boxes and the polyethylene plastic wrap the Health Department mandates when pie slices are sitting out), and trash (the plastic wrapper from the compostable forks). In return for their labors, they earned official volunteer shirts and, even better by my reckoning, a sense of belonging to the Harvest Fair and the local farming community.
When our pie booth shift was over, the girls enjoyed the fair with their dad and some good friends while I had a great time digging through garbage and helping people think about waste in new ways. I really do love diverting waste from landfills. It’s immediate gratification and a better future for my kids and everyone else’s, all at the same time.
As much as I love diverting waste, I love volunteering at events like the Harvest Fair. It may not be paid work, but the Harvest Fair gives real world support to our local farms and farmers, and we all reap the benefits. Being a tiny part of that feels so good and it’s just plain fun.