by Jessica Friend
My name is Jessica Friend and one of my first assignments as a VRG summer intern was to attend a community event that VRG participated in to advocate vegetarianism.
Mary Hebranson, the Community Outreach Director at VRG, asked me if I would be interested in attending EcoFair in Reisterstown, MD. The fair was only about 15 minutes from my home in Owings Mills, so of course I would go.
Driving on to the grounds for EcoFair, I had no idea what to expect but I had lots of questions. Would it rain? Would there be lots of people? How would the VRG booth look? Turning the corner, I was pleasantly surprised. Kayam Farm, where the fair was held, sits on several acres of green pastureland. I could see a big pavilion in the center of the grounds. Underneath, various vendors were set up on picnic tables.
As I approached the pavilion I spotted the VRG table pretty quickly because it was definitely one of the more colorful booths there. An array of pamphlets showcased fruits and vegetables from every color of the rainbow. Red tomatoes, orange squash, yellow bananas, green peppers, blue blueberries and purple eggplants. Displayed on the left side of the table were several of the books that VRG publishes including Meatless Meals for Working People and Simply Vegan. On the right side of the table there was a display dedicated to educating people on the effects of eating meat on the environment.
I walked around the table and introduced myself to Mark Rifkin. Mark is one of the dietitians that work with The Vegetarian Resource Group. He would be overseeing the booth that afternoon.
Right away, Mark informed me that one of the most important rules of tabling is … “Don’t be afraid to speak to the people!” Mark noted that most people who approach a table won’t ask any questions without a little prompting. So a nicely placed “Do you have any questions?” is an icebreaker. Throughout the afternoon, I put Mark’s insightful tip into practice.
Some of the visitors to the VRG table included; a woman who inquired about tips for feeding a picky vegetarian baby, Mark suggested she try different textures of tofu; and a man who approached the table looking for recipes, explaining that he had just gone vegetarian several months ago. I handed him a pamphlet of four easy to make vegan recipes that Mark had brought and a copy of the restaurant guide that VRG publishes. Some people were just interested in receiving literature on vegetarianism or copies of the Vegetarian Journal.
The fair had live entertainment, and a buffet lunch which included chicken, French fries, cookies, brownies, lemonade, but also a vegan option, salad and an assortment of wraps.
Towards the end of the day, the traffic at our table slowed and I took advantage of this to take a look around the fair. I visited the MOM’s organic market table for free samples of their chocolate chip cookies, tried a vegan smoothie at the buffet and visited a few other vendors’ tables including Save The Bay and Parks and People.
If you’re in the Maryland area, I encourage you to check out EcoFair 2012.
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