How do you Have a Festival for 15,000 and Walk Away With Only a Pick-up Bed of Garbage?

Sonoma County Farm Trails’ “Gravenstein Apple Fair” Announced as Finalist for Visit California Poppy Award for Destination Stewardship & Sustainable Travel Award Organization’s Zero Waste Campaign among top submissions recognized

Sonoma County, Calif. (March 8, 2024) – Sonoma County Farm Trails is proud to announce that it was selected as a finalist in the Destination Stewardship & Sustainable Travel category for its Gravenstein Apple Fair’s  Zero Waste initiatives.

Visit California’s biennial Poppy Awards recognize destinations and attractions across California for excellence in tourism marketing and destination stewardship across nine categories. More than 160 submissions were reviewed for the 2024 awards and narrowed down to the top finalists in each category.

Farm Trails, a nonprofit dedicated to keeping “farms forever” in Sonoma County and a pioneer of agritourism, has hosted the Gravenstein Apple Fair since 1973 as its annual fundraiser. A leader in regenerative agriculture promotion and  sustainable event production, Sonoma County Farm Trails exceeded their 95% Zero Waste goals this past August. Nearly 15,000 attendees attended the weekend celebration and generated only 3 cubic yards of trash (~the bed of a small pickup truck!). The vast majority of discards were compostables, recycling, and pig food for a local farmer. Farm Trails also subsidized real silverware and glassware to further reduce waste.

“It is an honor to be nominated for this Visit California’s Poppy Awards, and I want to acknowledge that this achievement has been 10 years in the making and is thanks to the indefatigable commitment of our Zero Waste team,” said Carmen Snyder, Producer of the Gravenstein Apple Fair and Farm Trails Executive Director. “Festivals are notorious for generating vast amounts of waste—up to 100 tons for a gathering of 20,000, most of which ends up in landfills. As a nonprofit organization committed to environmental stewardship, we set an ambitious goal of becoming 95% Zero Waste. We are proud to have accomplished that target, with nearly 15,000 attendees yielding only a small pickup truckload of garbage—a scant half-ton. But our work is not done. Each year we implement new efforts to reduce our waste stream even further. We are happy to share the key ingredients for producing Zero Waste events and hope that others will emulate our process.”

The Poppy Awards celebrate the best tourism marketing in the state. Tourism marketing has helped make California the No. 1 travel destination in the country, providing jobs for 1.2 million California workers and benefiting communities large and small across the state.