Green was the color of the day on Saturday at Milford Central School, as an environmental festival and gardening event were presented in tandem.
This year’s annual Earth Festival, presented by Otsego County Conservation Association and WildLearn.com, featured a “recycled fashion” show, the annual “EcoArt/Trendy Trash” art contest, children’s activities, live music and food, all with a theme of protecting the environment.
At the same time, the Master Gardeners of Cornell Cooperative Extension Schoharie and Otsego counties hosted their Spring Garden Day. The event featured classes aimed at new and experienced gardeners, with a presentation by Jonathan Comstock of Cornell University on the impact of climate change on the home gardener.
The school gymnasium was packed with people talking to vendors, looking at exhibits, participating in activities and getting their faces painted.
This marked the eighth year of the Earth Festival, and the third year for the “Go Green!” fashion show, which features clothing made or embellished with recycled and waste materials. The contestants presented their works in the cafeteria, with awards given in four age groups from kindergarten through adults. Judges met with contestants in the cafeteria to inspect garments and ask questions. The show was not held last year, but came back because of popular demand, according to organizers, although this year’s event did not include a runway-style show.
During Comstock’s Spring Garden Day presentation, he discussed the effects that rapid climate changes have had and will continue to have on the environment.
“Intense rains and floods, summer droughts and heat waves are more common than they were in our grandparents’ time. New York’s climate will continue to change over the next 10, 20, and 100 years,” he added.
For gardeners, this is likely to mean hotter days in summer and fewer cold days in the winter. Growers will be rewarded with a longer growing season, but the higher temperatures may also stress some plants, and raise the possibility of drought, Comstock said.
Warmer winters would also result in more pests and the spreading of some plant species such as poison ivy, according to Comstock, adding that mosquito populations are also likely to thrive.
“Our ecosystems will be disassembling and assembling in new ways,” explained Comstock. “Species ranges may shift several hundreds of miles.”
He told growers that the changes will bring opportunities for experimentation along with several challenges.