Seriously, what is Grickle Grass?

The Grickle Grass Festival takes its name from the 1971 Dr Seuss book The Lorax. The story is a cautionary children’s tale about society losing its connection to nature. All for the purpose of chopping down the very last Truffula tree in order to produce Thneeds, a very versatile garment. Now – the Truffula trees, as everyone knows, used to stand down “where the Grickle Grass grows…”

The book ends with the instruction to take a seed (the last surviving Truffula seed, to be exact), plant it, protect it, and grow a forest. So, it’s hardly surprising the founders of The Grickle Grass Festival saw it as a call to arms to grow something very special in the Forest City.

London has, for many years, teetered on the brink of having too few music venues. Back in 2010 much of London’s best music was happening at the late, great APK Live at Wellington and York. Grickle’s organizers went looking for a special new space to fulfil their vision, and appropriately decided on the London Regional Children’s Museum. In May 2010 the festival was born.

there is a blue room with musical instruments in it and a person running a projector for visuals
Grickle Grass in 2015.

Not just a party…

The casual London music fan might not realize that Grickle is also a sustainable living festival. Partnering with (and supporting) our hometown urban agriculture educator is key. Growing Chefs! Ontario is a London-based registered charity that aims to unite chefs, growers, educators, and community members in children’s food education projects.

GCO was started by Andrew Fleet in 2008 after his experiences with the organization’s founding chapter in Vancouver. The daytime programming of the festival is funded by revenue from the evening portion of the previous year. Daytime Grickle might even go the furthest to fulfill Dr. Seuss’ hopes of an environmentally conscious generation. Participating children (and adults) are educated to cherish, protect, and preserve the natural world through ethical and healthy food relationships.

The 2017 edition of Grickle daytime will run from 10am until 4pm. Activities include button making, garden planting, cooking demonstrations, DIY insect inspections, fort building, clay sculpting, sidewalk chalking and more. Growing Chefs! Ontario’s pop-up restaurant The Beet Cafe will be serving up delicious, healthy food all day long. Londoners may recognize them from past appearances at TD Sunfest and Home County.

There are 3 people under a tent selling organic food at a festival
The Beet Cafe at Grickle Grass 2015.

Compliments to the Chef!

LondonFuse spoke with Growing Chefs! head chef Katherine Puzara about the daytime eats, and after some gentle prodding she shared some of her plans with us. “We are bringing some healthy Greek yogurt cheesecake cups, and an assortment of tools and ingredients to decorate them including fruit coulis, foraged flowers, poached rhubarb, lemon cookie crumb, and much more.

Katherine has been with Growing Chefs! full time since 2014, but she didn’t always know she wanted to work with kids and food. After studying arts at Western University, she landed what she calls a “mundane banking job that kept me starving for something creative.” She quit the bank job in 2010 (at publishing time LondonFuse is still waiting to hear whether she took the goldfish when she left, Jerry Maguire-style). She heard about Growing Chefs! while pursuing her new-found calling at Stratford Chef’s School and started off volunteering with the organization in 2011.

a chef works with a class of students who are making organic cheese cake cupcakes
Chef Katherine of Growing Chefs! Ontario. Photo by Pam Haasen

Here comes the night time!

After a day of engaging kids’ programming, the festival turns its attention to the big kids. Festival goers are treated to the surreal experience of amazing artists and musicians in settings they may remember from childhood. Whether it’s electronic music with projections in the dinosaur caves, a DJ set in the space station, or a punk band under the whale skeleton; the fun doesn’t stop.

It’s advised to make sure you check out all the artists in advance and know who you absolutely want to catch (do it here). The evening goes quickly and you’ll need to be in the right room to see your favourites.

Careful though, you may need help from a friend to remove the child-sized NASA vest before leaving the space room, or the crossing guard’s jumper on the Street Where You Live!

It’s always a good idea to bring extra cash to purchase records, merch, food and drink. You don’t want to miss a great set because you were lined up at the tiny, pretend, non-functional ATM.

a woman sings and plays drums in a circular room
Petra Glynt at 2015 Grickle Grass. Photo by Brittany Robbins

Dancing in the kitchen.

Growing Chefs! will still be there at night with all your dancing fuel. Their Beet Cafe will be dishing up Buddha bowls and chicken shawarma bowls so you can power up between sets. Two years ago Katherine took off the evening portion to dance her heart out with friends, and tells us her people get to have fun too.

“This year I imagine our staff working in the evening will be taking turns covering off for each other to catch bits of the different sets. We can’t wait to see Roozbeh (we used to share office space with him and definitely miss having him as our resident DJ) and Zachary Gray (another good friend of Growing Chefs!).”

Every city worth its salt needs a music festival, but they don’t just pop out of thin air. The volunteer-run Grickle Grass Festival is both a celebration of what Londoners can do when they work together, and also a challenge for folks to look around them and make their world a better place in whatever way they see fit. In the words of Dr. Seuss, “UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

Two men play bass and drums in a room at a festival
I Smell Blood play at The Street Where You Live room at 2015 Grickle Grass. Photo by Brittany Robbins

Find out more by visiting the event page. Tickets can be purchased online or at Grooves Records, Runout Records and Brown & Dickson Booksellers.

Feature photo by Denice Baker.

1 COMMENT

  1. Great article Dave! For purposes of public record, the very first Grickle Grass Festival was held on July 31, 2010. It moved to May the next year 😉

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