OCEANSIDE — More than 600 people showed up at Buccaneer Park on April 23 ready to clean up their community and celebrate the planet during the city’s annual Earth Festival.
This is the first year Earth Festival has welcomed visitors in person since the COVID-19 pandemic, during which the festival was held virtually.
Around 600 people showed up by 9 a.m. when the event first started and the community clean-up project began.
“Everyone took bags with them and went out into the community to pick up trash,” said Colleen Foster, the city’s environmental officer. “We had groups cleaning all the way up at the pier and from Loma Alta to Buena Vista Creek.”
Prior to the pandemic, the 12-year-old festival was held downtown, attracting a much larger crowd. The intention of this year’s festival was to downsize and focus on hosting a community event for local families.
“It feels more local this way,” Foster said. “Next year we may have several smaller festivals in parks throughout the city instead of a massive event where people can come clean up the neighborhood and enjoy our parks and beaches while celebrating the Earth.”
A handful of local environment-friendly non-profits, city programs and local entrepreneurs showcased their work throughout the festival with activities and crafts lined up for young children and families as well.
The Plot, a plant-based and zero-waste restaurant in Oceanside, served ceviche de la tierra, a plant-based sushi, at the festival. Much of the restaurant’s produce comes from its own garden attached to the restaurant, and all of its “meat” products are completely made with plants – like its spicy tuna made from chickpeas or its sausage and chorizo made with wild rice and lentils.
“Everything is made from scratch and nothing goes in the landfill,” said Jessica Waite, co-founder of The Plot.
Suzanne Hume and John Bottorff also showed up with the Sierra Club to represent their own local non-profit, CleanEarth4Kids, which over the last few years has stretched its roots from Oceanside to work with people across the world in England, Greece and beyond to champion clean air and water for all. The group strives to protect air, water, children’s health and the environment as a whole through education.
“There are a lot of smart people doing amazing work for the future,” Hume said. “We all need to get on board.”
The group plans to speak at the May 4 Oceanside City Council meeting with requests to stop spraying pesticides, deny chemical storage near elementary schools, stop wood-burning on the city’s beaches and more.
Oceanside’s Earth Festival is organized by Green Oceanside, the city’s environmental services and programs that teach residents and businesses how to be good stewards of the earth through watershed protection, water efficiency, zero waste efforts, climate action and energy conservation.
Beyond Earth Day and Earth Festival, Foster encourages everyone to clean up any trash lying around every time they visit a local park or beach.
“Every little bit counts,” Foster said.