This year’s Ecofestival of organic products and services kicks off this morning at the Helexpo exhibition center in Maroussi, northern Athens, with a competition for wines made from organic grapes. Held by the organic products certification organization DIO, the Ecofestival has seen a 40 percent increase in the number of exhibitors since last year. The wide selection of products on display ranges from food to personal hygiene and household cleaning products for people who are increasingly concerned about the quality of the substances they eat and use. Ideas for ecotourism, recycling, alternative energy sources and transport will also be on offer. Although the wine competition is unofficial, the some 100 samples will be judged under official conditions, said Dinos Stergidis, director of Vinetum, the organizers of the competition. «DIO is planning to have the competition recognized as an official one in time for next year’s Ecofestival,» he told Kathimerini English Edition. Visitors will be able to sample the winning wines tomorrow at noon. Another award to be presented at this year’s festival is for organic olive oil packaging, and visitors can cast votes to be counted with those of the judges for the best packaging of Greek extra-virgin organic olive oil. The oil will then be donated to hospitals, nursery schools and other foundations. The exhibition runs parallel to a series of lectures and workshops. This evening’s events include presentations by the Hellenic Ornithological Society, the Panhellenic Union of Consumers of Organic Products, as well as a talk by inspirational speaker Prem Rawat. The full schedule of events can be found (in Greek) on the DIO website (www.dionet.gr). Plocher system Another guest from abroad is Roland Plocher, who is to give a talk today at 7 p.m. on his system for preserving the earth’s natural resources through holistic, ecological solutions. He is joined by Greek experts Professor Dimitris Bilalis and Nikos Papantonis. For the last 23 years, Plocher and his associates have been working to show that economics and ecology can go hand in hand. Conceived by Plocher in 1980, the system was intensively researched for the following 12 years during which the base products for the restoration of polluted waters were refined and a system for balancing ecological cycles in agriculture was created. Plocher’s work is inspired by the findings of Wilhelm Reich, Viktor Schauberger, Nicholas Tesla and Rudolf Steiner. Plocher and his associates have developed technology for farming, restoring waterways, treating drinking water, use in industrial processes, sewage treatment and applications in the household and for personal hygiene. The technology does not rely on electrical, magnetic, chemical, thermal or radioactive energy, but uses natural vibrational impulses. Fair Trade Relatively new to Greece but well known abroad is the work done by Fair Trade, a non-profit system which offers merchandise made by small producers in developing countries, returning a large part of the profits directly to the producers. For instance, coffee producers receive 47 percent of their product’s sale price. In conventional trade practices, this does not exceed 10 percent. Launched in 2003 in Greece, Fair Trade has been running for about half a century abroad as an alternative approach to commercial activity, and its aims are to reduce poverty and promote the viable development of marginalized producers in developing countries. The first Fair Trade store in Greece opened at 30 Nikis Street near Syntagma Square in March, in association with the CTM Altromercato cooperative. Fair Trade Hellas is an international non-profit, non-governmental organization which returns a large part of the profits from sales to those countries’ producers. «We have participated in several of these festivals and people are getting to know us,» said Christos Christopoulos of Fair Trade Hellas, who will be there to present their work tomorrow at 10.30 a.m. «As a result, the number of volunteers has increased along with the variety and quantity of goods available in the store.» A network of some 650 cooperatives of producers in Asia, Africa and South America are offered the option of dealing with Fair Trade intermediaries, both for the sale of their products and for credit. The range of products includes food, beverages, refreshments, beauty products, clothing, toys, handcrafts, furniture and other items. The Fair Trade movement abroad has over 3,000 stores and 70,000 Fair Trade product retail points in Europe. Exhibition Center Helexpo Palace, 39 Kifissias, Maroussi) to Sunday November 19, 10 a.m. until 9 p.m.