Sustainabili-TEA party at The Majors Creek Folk Festival

What do you get when you take one of Australia’s leaders in running sustainable festivals, add fresh produce from a social enterprise that creates jobs that are good for the planet, and throw in a bunch of recycled junk?

Welcome to the Sustainabili-TEA party at The Majors Creek Folk Festival. The third event in the STEM-inspired play series by Illawarra small business Junkyard Rascals.

Majors Creek is a leader and award-winner in the sustainable event space with everything from a waste education hub and compostable toilets, right through to a repurposed pallet wall where festival patrons can borrow mugs and return them dirty to be washed and reused. There is also a particular focus on food and organic waste, which along with the festivals in-depth onsite engagement strategy, means that not only is waste sorting made easier (without the yuk rotting food mixed in), but around 70% of the waste from the event eventually becomes compost used on nearby working farms.

To truly make the Sustainabili-TEA party come alive and reflect the sustainability goal of the festival, the ‘rascals’ were joined by Green Connect, a fair food and fair jobs social enterprise based in the Illawarra. Green Connect creates jobs for former refugees and youth facing complex barriers to employment in roles that are good for the planet. This includes their op-shops, zero-waste or horticulture teams, or on their 11-acre organic urban farm.

Tucked into the dedicated kids tent, long banquet tables made from old blocks and milk crates were covered in the sights, tastes and smells of the farm. Recycled silverware clinked, fine candelabras held sticks, silk table clothes were dyed with vegetable juice and lace doilies wrapped banksia seeds and pebbles. Leaves and flowers were pounded with rolling pins to create potions, water changed color with self-made dyes and kids squished, tasted and sniffed their way through the day.

The activity coordinator from Green Connect sat in the grass alongside the kids answering all sorts of questions that popped into the kids heads as they investigated and played.

As buds and flowers in different stages of bloom were pulled apart they talked about how things grow and the role of bees in pollination, when the kids asked where all the “junk” came from, discussions on reusing materials and recycling were had. And as kids tasted and sniffed herbs, edible flowers and fruit slices from the farm, they chatted about regenerative farming and its benefits for the soil and for their tummies.

One of the major goals of this event series is to allow children to direct their own learning and follow their passions, simply by providing the materials to explore and make the expert knowledge available should they wish to know more.

The sustainabili-TEA party created a delightful sensory hands-on learning space where children could explore wonderful and deep questions about sustainability, where our food comes from and what they can do to help the planet.

The last event in the STEM-inspired play series is on the 27th of May as part of the KidsFest Shellharbour program. “It STEMs from a Song” will see Junkyard Rascals pair up with an expert junk instrument maker from Wollongong Conservatorium for a free play creative day.