MENF Wrap-up: Overview

Last weekend I was lucky enough to attend the Mother Earth News Fair in Seven Springs, PA. This is my second year attending and I am hooked! If you haven’t heard of it, the fair is sponsored by Mother Earth News Magazine, my FAVORITE magazine hand’s down.  Please head over to visit because they have a huge number of online articles as resources. It is the first place I look for information! I discovered the magazine a few years ago when I picked up a few back issues from Freecycle.

Mother Earth News Fair logo

The fair has a wealth of information; hour-long sessions with experts and authors in that field and exhibitors for just about anything you would need to live sustainably. Here is the “about” for the fair from the website:

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIRS are fun-filled, family-oriented sustainable lifestyle events. FAIRS feature practical, hands-on demos and workshops:

  • Renewable energy
  • Small-scale agriculture
  • Livestock
  • Gardening
  • Green building
  • Green transportation
  • Natural health and more

We hand-select local and national exhibitors to bring you the best in:

  • Organic food and drink
  • Books and magazines
  • Tools and seeds
  • Green contractors
  • Handmade soaps
  • Animal fiber
  • Clothing and more

This year the fair was organized in 1.5 block increments; each block included one-hour session and a half-hour to travel and find a seat in the next session. This seems like it was a response to the problems last year where each session was 50 minutes and you only had ten minutes to travel. Both years the fair had more visitors than expected. I believe they were totally caught off-guard last year with the crowds. This year the fair was a bit more relaxed; neither the guests nor the speakers seemed to be as rushed. There was more time to visit the exhibitors. The only down side was that this year when I skipped a session for lunch with my family I felt like I really missed a lot and even though I only skipped two sessions on Saturday and one on Sunday I managed to visit all of the exhibitors at least once and many several times. This is good for the exhibitors but not so good for me! There were not too many things I could or needed to purchase and I felt like I had a lot of downtime.

Why do I love the fair? It is one of the few places I feel like I belong! I walked around eating my red pepper whole, like an apple, and I actually didn’t get too many “looks”. I don’t usually do this in public because it seems so odd to people that they stare and while I am pretty comfortable with myself, I eat them that way because they taste good not because I want attention! I can also go to most workshops and LEARN. At the basic workshops available around me I feel like I am advanced in a sea of beginners (not that I am all-knowing, but most workshops are for beginners and once you have read a lot and tried a lot you just need more than an overview and introduction). Finally, it reminds me of my goal of living sustainability. It is only too easy to get off-track and caught up in life at home and school once September begins. The MENF starts that sustainable fire burning again!

Here was my schedule for the weekend:

Saturday:

Beechnut Turkey and Oaknut Hogs(Cancelled) When Technology Fails: Self-reliance and surviving the long emergency

A Homesteader’s Hindsight: 20 great ideas and 20 not-so-great ideas

Lunch

Folks, This Ain’t Normal

Break

The Need Fire: How kindling community ignites a farm

Sunday:

The Traditional Home Dairy

Retooling for Tomorrow: Tools and technologies for the modern homestead

Lunch

Beginning Deer Hunting for Food

Food as Medicine: Healing chronic diseases

 

I will write up a summary of what I learned at each for those of you who didn’t get to go to the Fair. Perhaps I will see you there next year!

 

 

The Right Way to Spend

We all know we should “buy American”, “shop local” and “support environmentally–friendly businesses”, but knowing what to do doesn’t make doing it easy. Easy is going to the local Big Box store and buying what you need at that moment without thinking too much about it. But then if you’re like me, you feel guilty knowing there must have been a better product that supported local American jobs and did not use gallons of oil to transport.

Globe in a shopping cart

Finding the elusive local eco-business that makes the product you need is hard. Often these companies don’t have the budget to advertise all over and they rely on word-of-mouth to let people know their product and service is out there. So how do you find out about them? Continue reading “The Right Way to Spend”

When To Sow?

It seemed to me that I started all of my seeds late last year, so I have been looking around for dates to start. By January I saw tons of people from my area starting pepper and tomatoes, which I didn’t think were supposed to be started until March. I love Mother Earth News magazine and when I searched their site, I came across a pdf with a chart to help figure out when to start your seeds. It is a very good resource because it tells you when to set out your seeds based on your last frost date (mine is 4/30), and then when you should start your seeds based on your setting out day.

My chart ended up looking like this: Continue reading “When To Sow?”

Great Cookie Debacle Part 4

We finally gave in. Ari and I walked around to all of our neighbors who bought from us and asked what they had ordered. Everybody was very nice about it and the consensus is that we will find it any day now. We are still waiting on one order – our neighbor had a friend house-sitting and he ordered two boxes. I think it is was Samoa and a Thin Mint, but I’m not 100% sure.

That does leave another problem though. I spent the last week looking for the darn order form so the other house chores didn’t really get done. Ari and Abby’s room is clean, but basically he rest of the house is a wreck (don’t believe me? Ask my Dad – he visited Thursday). So today I began to fix it. I worked on the guest bedroom, having Ari go through the stuff in there and we recycled and threw away a lot, and we have a bag of giveaways too. I have worked a bit on the rest of the house, but it is overwhelmingly disorganized and I am not so great at getting it back in order.

And it brings another problem to light. My “desk” is the dining room table. You can probably guess the problem with this now that you know I am not well organized. On good days, I occupy the far end of the table on one side, with my laptop and a pile of papers that I need to use or go through to file. On a bad day… it takes me 15 or more minutes to clear off enough room for four people to eat dinner at the table.

My “desk” today

A few weeks back I decided I needed a bookcase so I could clear off my bedside table (I had 50-60+ books on it). I scored a really nice bookcase on Freecycle and took care of that problem and now it is evident I need a desk too. It will be a place I can make various piles (my organization method of choice) and they will be left alone, rather than have to be consolidated into one pile every night for dinner. Hopefully someone can send me “desk vibes” and I can score something awesome one Freecycle in the coming weeks!

My dream desk – I can close it to hide the mess!

And yes, the “final” part of this debacle will be when I find the order form!