Photo Courtesy of SOL Food Festival

The fourth annual Sustainable, Organic, Local (SOL) Food Festival took place this weekend, giving food lovers and environmentalists a chance to come together for some unique food, facts and fun.                     PHOTO COURTESY OF SOL Food Festival

Food and sustainability lovers flocked to the fourth annual Sustainable, Organic, Local (SOL) Food Festival this past Saturday to enjoy unique culinary offerings and environmentally conscious presentations from throughout the Santa Barbara area.

The event took place in the Plaza Vera Cruz Park, and its organizers worked in conjunction with the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County to host activities promoting food grown with solar energy, rather than heavy fossil fuels.

Kendy Radasky, a faculty member of SBCC’s biology department who oversaw a booth advocating permaculture gardens on the SBCC campus, said she appreciated the opportunity to communicate with other sustainability advocates.

“Engaging with the community here has been great. A lot of people are coming up and checking it out, getting excited,” Radasky said. “It’s been a great opportunity for me to connect with other folks in the community who has similar types of roles, who can coordinate [and] combine resources with each other.”

Attendees entered the festival through the “Garden of Eatin’,” a line of booths along Cota Street selling a variety of sustainable foods ranging from power smoothies to organic meats.

In the center of the park, presentations of locally-produced art and food were spread across five stages —the Making Change Stage, Scratch Cookin’ Kitchen Stage, Hands on Kitchen Stage, Cooking with SOL Stage and The Oasis Music Stage. Presentations included a salad eating contest and SOL Food Chef competition, which included food supplied by the nearby farmer’s market. All event-related photos were posted on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #SOLFoodFestival.

In keeping with an emphasis on sustainable practices, visitors were encouraged to walk or bike to the festival, and a well-guarded bike valet area was available for cyclists.

Sergio Garcia, a student who runs the Santa Barbara Bike Club at Santa Barbara High School, said the availability of free bike parking was an important amenity for conscientious attendees.

“When people bike over here, they can just leave their bikes here safely,” Garcia said.

The Oasis: Beer and Wine Garden served up pints and sips of locally fermented spirits and hosted forums for wine, mead and beer producers to share their commitment to sustainable brewing. There was also a wide variety of hands-on activities throughout the festival, such as a bike juicer from the Foodbank, a live animal petting area and the Hungry Caterpillar workshop.