Alton’s second Eco-Fair, organised jointly by Alton Town Council and ACAN, was held in the Public Gardens on Sunday July 16th.  It was funded by a grant from East Hampshire District Council’s Community Climate Action Fund, for which ACAN and ATC are grateful.

The event was opened by Town Mayor, Cllr Ben Hamlin, who stressed the need for everyone to do what they can to tackle the climate crisis for the sake of their grandchildren.

He was soon followed by Lillie Ewins whose passionate plea for action at the first Eco-Fair two years ago had moved her audience so deeply.  Since then, she has helped to found and been the leader of Young ACAN, involving hundreds of young people in the area in the fight against the climate catastrophe.  This time her theme was climate anxiety and how the only cure is action.  Jenny Griffiths, on behalf of the ACAN Trustees, thanked Lillie for her outstanding service and presented her with a small gift. [Lillie’s speech is reproduced in full in the previous news post on the website – do read it.]

The motto of this year’s Fair was ‘Celebrating Earth-Friendly Living’ and there was plenty to celebrate.  ACAN and PeCAN (Petersfield Climate Action Network) were there, as were Alton WI, ALFI (Alton Local Food Initiative) sharing a stall with ACAN’s group AVLAN (Alton and Villages Local Action for Nature), Alton Library and the Milk Club with their electric milk float, all keen to show the measures they were taking and encouraging others to take to mitigate the climate catastrophe. 

Some stalls, such as Eco Church, Hampshire Hawk Walks, the RSPB, Hart Bats Group, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, focussed on celebrating and cherishing our wildlife, from church grounds to birds to bats to hawks and even lichen. PALE (Petersfield Area Lichen Enthusiasts) were offering lichen walks in the park; who knew how many different species of lichen grow on our trees and stones and what a fascinating new world you see when you look through a lens at a piece of lichen?  It also captures carbon well! The Ramblers encouraged us to get out and enjoy our natural world.

Energy Alton advised on reducing carbon emissions; a solar-powered electric train set proved that even Thomas the Tank Engine doesn’t need to rely on fossil fuels!

The Re-Use Zone was a popular attraction.  Many visitors were already doing their best to reduce and recycle and here they could find new ideas and contacts to help them further.  Alton Repair Café was able to provide details of their regular sessions, Alton Community Share gave information about toys and games available to borrow twice a month and ACAN’s Action on Plastics group advised on reducing the use of plastic.  Resurrection Furniture, now offering good quality affordable used furniture in their new premises on the High Street, were represented, as was Hampshire County Council’s ‘Smart Living’ project, which advises on minimising waste in the home.

Emma Jones, leader of Young ACAN, with children from Bentley School

The Mayor had already stressed the importance of action now to pass on a sustainable planet to our children and grandchildren, and the younger generations were fully represented.  A large marquee swarmed with insects thanks to the popular face-painting stall, there was a sculpture and collage competition, a poetry workshop, story-telling and singing,

Visitors loved the event and welcomed the opportunity to learn from it.  Eventually even the sun came out to help Alton to celebrate!

You can find out more about the groups mentioned in this article on their websites listed below. Many of these groups also have active Facebook pages.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

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