by Elizabeth Foster
Costa Georgiadis, the famous Greek-Australian environmentalist, has taken up residence at the Woodford folk festival for two days of educational talks for both adults and children, with no shortage of fans from either side of the age spectrum.
Although many of Costa’s older viewers may recognise him from programs such as SBS’s Costas Garden Odyssey and ABC’s Gardening Australia, his younger audience recognised the bearded face as Costa the garden loving gnome from the hit educational show Dirtgirl and Scrapboy.
Costa donned his gnome costume in the children’s Stardust theatre, where he hosted a QnA session with his young fans.
The questions ranged from what Costa’s favourite colour was, (purple), his favourite type of berry, (Mulberry, but blueberry is a close second) and the importance of composting for better produce.
No question seemed to stump Costa; answering with no hesitation when one audience member asked if he ‘had a stinky bum’, with Costa not wasting the opportunity to use the moment as a learning opportunity,
“If we can start to change our fear about these things, and when we think about cows, cows leave poo which leave soil, everything does,” Costa said. “Everyone eats, everyone has exhaust – if we don’t have exhaust the engine stops, so I think you know, there’s nothing wrong with understanding how poo fits into the soil, its nature’s way of composting!”
Costa’s enthusiasm was in no way diminished when speaking to his adult audience in another session alongside Dr Karl Kruszelnicki.
He praised the improvement of environmental education for children from an early age, along with the nature of the Woodford festival itself.
He says children ten years ago would be scared or squeamish and now are more eager to get their hands dirty.
“Preschool children are now at the same level of primary school children going into high school 10 years ago,” he said.
“I’m amazed by this festival and someone said to me this morning it is like the dendritic pattern of life, this festival has all these different creek lines running into it, about culture, music, arts and talks and it all runs into this river.”
He also discussed how a systematic positive approach was needed in addressing sustainability, rather than a ‘doom and gloom’ approach taken by some environmentalists.
Costa said we need to work alongside farmers rather than against them to improve sustainability, such as programs like ‘Food Connect’, which aims to get food directly from the farmer to consumers.
“Every farmer I know cares about their land, what we need to work out is our messaging, to show there are better ways and ultimately that comes back to us and our capacity to sell a story, and I think that’s a beautiful challenge,” he said.