Green Festival Speakers

Ari Derfel



Ari Derfel is an entrepreneur, organic chef, activist, mountain guide ; public speaker. His academic career spans the University of Wisconsin, Harvard, Georgetown, UCLA ; Cambridge.

Ari and his business partner, Eric Fenster, founded Back to Earth Organic Catering in 2001, the first organic catering company in the US. They also operate Back to Earth Outdoors, which provides wilderness leadership opportunities for urban youth, and yoga backpacking retreats for adults. Currently Ari is building Gather, an all organic restaurant, cafe, and bar, scheduled to open in Berkeley, California at the David Brower Center in the fall of 2009.

Back to Earth and Gather have positioned themselves at the forefront of greening the hospitality industry by supporting local organic farmers, educating people about responsible food choices, utilizing green transportation alternatives, designing progressive employment programs, and forging a path of sustainable, conscious business practices. Building upon this success, Gather will provide a true home for the food movement and will be a clear example of the future of the restaurant industry.

Ari is also internationally known for his work on waste and consumerism. As an experiment, he saved every single piece of trash ; recycling he created during 2007 so that he could see his impact on the planet firsthand. He kept it in the kitchen and living room of his house. Ari gave the year of trash to an artist named Kuros Zahedi, and in September, 2009 it was unveiled as a single work of art in Seattle, Washington. The story received worldwide attention. Ari has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, NPR, Fox, ABC, CBS, NBC, the Discovery Channel, SF Chronicle, New York Times, Ripleys Believe it or Not, Yoga Journal, Real Simple, and other print, television, internet and radio media worldwide.