live life green locally

by erin thursby
Maybe you’ve got a burning desire to live green but you’ve no idea where to start. It’s time to go to the Jacksonville Green Expo.
The Expo grew out of one couple’s zest for a great cup of coffee and making the world a better place. Martin Kabaki and Purity Gikunju both came from Kenya. They spent their childhood on Kenyan coffee farms before coming to America for their education.
Purity noticed a disparity between the cost of a cup of coffee here in the U.S. and the minuscule amount Kenyan farmers were paid per pound. Together, she and her husband began a farm called Growers Alliance, which purchases coffee from Kenyan growers at a higher price than they usually receive. The farmers grow organically, not because they’re striving to be green, but because the cost of fertilizer and pesticides are prohibitive.
The organic, quality beans are then processed here in Jacksonville, where you can find them at all of the local farmer’s markets and at Publix. Ten percent of the proceeds go into the Growers Alliance Fund. With the money they’ve built a school and dug wells to supply families in Kenya with clean water.
“Purity and I are passionate about two things: helping the coffee growers in Kenya and raising green awareness,” says Martin. Starting from nothing and accomplishing so much for a community is what gave the couple the confidence to launch the Green Expo. They wanted to change Jacksonville for the better because they live here and have a vested interest in making things better. As Martin says: “We have a son; we have a home here.”
Everything changed for them when they went to an Orlando green expo. They saw An Inconvenient Truth and were stunned by the revelations of the film. On the way home, Purity acknowledges, “We barely talked in the car for those two hours,” but they knew they had to do something. Educating people on a small scale proved frustrating, but once they began organizing the Expo they saw changes in friends and family. Since the first expo, some of their friends and family have gone vegan and others have opened an organic produce store.
The couple saw a great need in Jacksonville. Despite a number of earth-friendly companies here in the area, most people didn’t have a place to find out about these green businesses and services. Jacksonville has a surprising number of green corporations you might not know about, some of which have been around for years. At the Expo, you’ll find them.
While showcasing these green businesses is important, they wanted to do more to recognize local people who support the environment. That’s why this year they’re launching the Green Awards Breakfast, where awards will go to “one individual, one non-profit and one business that has shown a proven track record of keeping Jacksonville green.”
Over 100 green exhibitors will be at the expo. Almost every energy and green concern is addressed. Green transportation alone is a big part of the fest. You’ll find hybrid cars on display from Arlington Toyota, BikeJax, which aims to make the city more bike friendly and the First Coast Metropolitan Planning Organization, which encourages car pooling. You can find out about three local solar power companies, a wind company, green cleaning products and even green pest control from Natures Way Pest Control! You can bring batteries in to be recycled at the Batteries Plus booth and you can also bring in used electronics such as computers, laptops and keyboards to the Recycling Escrap booth.
Sustainability is part of everyday life in Kenya. They eat locally out of necessity, use less energy and reuse their resources. In order to live a sustainable life in America, you’ve got to have knowledge. Besides bringing together local green commerce, they’ll also be plenty of information there, from speakers coming from JEA with energy-saving tips to the Duval County Extension Office with a tutorial on how to build a rain bucket so that you can cut the amount of water used from the aquifer for gardening and your yard. Informational pamphlets and books on living the green life will be available at the Expo. If you’ve got kids, don’t miss the Green Kids Zone, where kids can have fun and learn how to be green.
The Jacksonville Green Expo will be at the Prime Osborne Center on April 25-26. From 10 am -5 pm. Entry is just $5. Check out their website for more info on this bi-annual Expo at