(By Leslie Crenna) Look skyward and you will intuitively sense the need to conserve water and support an ever drier landscape.

When you lower your gaze, you may feel a bit overwhelmed to see lawn irrigation flowing into storm drains, trees with burned leaves and drooping branches, confused and dying bees littering concrete slabs, and oodles of water escaping down the shower drain because it takes forever for the water to get hot.

The annual Cool Davis Festival —which will run from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 11, in Central Park — has arrived yet again to help residents implement meaningful solutions to these dilemmas and more — moving us all toward a more sustainable future.

A water conservation and gardening zone will be at the heart of the festival alongside exhibits on home energy, a bike circus, family and kids’ activities, live music, an electric vehicle show-and-tell and lots more.

“We hope the festival will inspire you to get your hands dirty and learn how to take care of our gardens and our local landscapes,” says Steve Nyholm, who is coordinating the water and gardening zone. “Whether you are an aspiring beginner or an accomplished gardener, there will be something for everyone.”

Local landscape, water and garden-related exhibitors at the festival will include perennials like the Central Park Gardens, Farm to Fork, the city of Davis and Tree Davis, plus newer businesses and organizations like the Davis Permaculture Build, Permaculture Land Stewards and Circle of Bees.

A Sacramento-based cooperative, Grow Water — specializing in rain gardens, greywater, cisterns and food forests — also will be present.

Central Park Gardens volunteers created and support the sustainable public garden on the western edge of Central Park along B Street. Volunteers at this booth will provide advice on irrigation, year-round vegetable gardening, waterwise gardening and drought-tolerant plants.

The Yolo County Master Gardeners, UC Cooperative Extension-affiliated experts, will be on hand to answer questions and point festivalgoers to ample resources. They are also on hand throughout the year to provide guidance through regular presentations, research-based publications and advice via drop-in at their Woodland facility, phone hot line, or email.

Tree Davis will be assisting the public in caring for residential trees especially during this ongoing drought and extreme temperatures. In addition to a fabulous tree guide for the Davis area, Tree Davis also recently released a helpful infographic (www.treedavis.org) on how to save stressed trees with just the right amount and frequency of water depending on age and sun exposure.

Tree Davis also will be promoting a team leader training and fundraiser to be held Oct. 18 at Sudwerk, 2001 Second St.

The city of Davis digs in with information on composting and vermicomposting and will have a worm composting bin plus information about composting classes starting the week after the festival.

Farm to Fork encompasses the Davis RISE and Farm to School programs: the first composts lunch waste at Davis elementary schools; the second coordinates with school gardens to sell their bounty to the Davis school district’s kitchen to be eaten by kids who grew the goodies in the first place.

The Farm to Fork booth will give children a chance to plant seeds in newspaper pots they can take and care for at home, connecting gardening with recycling, avoiding plastic pots and clearly illustrating that even great newspapers (like The Davis Enterprise!) can decompose and return to the soil as nourishment.

Volunteers from the Davis Permaculture Guild will be offering a hands-on residential design activity for those interested in transforming their outdoor spaces. This new and growing Davis group .offers a monthly presentation on topics such as greywater, rainwater harvesting and solar cooking on the first Thursday of the month at the Davis Food Co-op, 620 G St.

Permaculture Land Stewards will share information on their landscaping services that integrate rainwater harvesting, permaculture design for back and front yards, lawn to landscape, water conservation through mulching, earthworks and rainwater harvesting using swales or basins.

Bee project

Circle of Bees (CoB for short) is a sub/urban beekeeping project that tames swarms, rescues hives from inconvenient locations, provides backyard hives and promotes natural pollinator forage and habitat. Visitors to this booth can expect to delight in samples of delicious honey, straight from the comb, learn about bee suits, and observe a thriving hive through an easy-to-view display window.

Other exhibitors include ASUCD Project Compost and Raptors Are the Solution (RATS), providing educational materials around wildlife conservation.

Finally, Grow Water, a Sacramento-based cooperative, will set up an interactive, mock laundry-to-landscape greywater system that pumps and runs water to show how it all works. Resources such as print books, before and after photos, and an olla (clay irrigation pot) will be available.

“We are delighted by the number of organizations who have gotten together this year to put together the water and gardening zone,” Steve Nyholm

Certified permaculture designer and water harvesting practitioner Chris Lopez, specializing in integrated design, will be on hand to answer questions.

“We are delighted by the number of organizations who have gotten together this year to put together the water and gardening zone,” Nyholm said.

“Working to make our community more healthy and sustainable at a time of climate change is a process that starts in our house and in our back yard. We hope to provide the tips to help you in your journey from sky to soil to plate.”

— Leslie Crenna is a Davis resident and Cool Davis volunteer.