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Sunday, June 3, 2012

Back From the Mother Earth News Fair, Part 2

More from the MEN Fair from this weekend:  I saw Ed Begley Jr., in person- he looks like someone's history professor.  I also managed to find Lloyd Kahn, tell him my story of his book's influence on our future plans, and thank him for it.  He looked genuinely pleased.

More pictures:

MEN Bookstore

The above is a slide from the micro-hydro talk, which was not this hands-on, but still very informative and we learned a lot.  When we sat down for this one, Steve said, "which one's this one?", and I said, "microhydro," and he said, "oh cool," which surprised me, actually.  I like microhydro because if you get the right setting it can be a constant source of electricity, rather than just when the sun shines, or just when the wind blows, and it's way less expensive than either.  It's one of the reasons I want to find a property with running water on it, preferably with a drop.

Fair goers

This is one of those Tiny Houses you read about. It was quite nice inside.  It was also $60,000. No kidding.

An example of my beloved wattle and daub.  I will probably make my barn out of this someday.  I just really want to build something with it.

If this looks like Joel Salatin, it's because it is.  I did not sit in on any of the big name (Joel Salatin, Temple Grandin, Ed Begley Jr, Paul Stamets to name a few) talks because I'm already part of the choir and I had other more important stuff to sit in on.

And of course, even though this was a fair for sustainable culture, there has to be at least one moron that doesn't get it.  This guy parked his whoop-de-do flex fuel SUV right in front of the electric vehicle charging station.  The sign even says what that space is for.

What did I sit in on?  Learn to Make Tofu and Tempeh (which I wanted to see for the soy milk making- this I think I could have picked up with a Google search), Choosing Organic Fertilizers and Building Soil Fertility (not much I didn't already know, unfortunately), Home Cheese-making: Alpine pressed cheeses (this guy, unfortunately put several of us to sleep- I actually dropped my pen- but his subject was interesting and we still want to try making cheese some day), Straw Bale Construction for the Pacific Northwest (the jury is in- yes, you can build with straw bale in the PNW and property variables notwithstanding, this is probably the medium in which we'll build), Bokashi Composting (learned a ton here but want to do some experimenting with it, like using spent malted grain instead of making the bran for it), If I Knew Then What I Know Now About Microhydro (Scott Davis is an old hippie who's very knowledgeable and very funny and we learned a lot from him- when the time comes  we'll probably buy his book but in the meantime I need to look for Microhydro: Clean Power From Water at the library).  Then Steve and I split up- he went and sat in on Straw Bales Homes in the Northwest: Myths and Rumors, to compare and contrast to the one we saw together previously and he learned more and took notes, so that was good.  I sat in on Planting for Year-Round Harvests on the Pacific Northwest Coast- now this was interesting on a couple of points: one was that this was the most attended talk that I attended- standing room only and people sitting on the floor in the aisles.  The second interesting thing was that she explained several key points about growing food for the winter that gave you a ha! moments and made tons of sense: you need to plant in time for your plants to come to maturity in October, because they aren't going to grow anymore than that (provided of course that you live in the Northern Hemisphere). It's all based on day length and light.  And because they aren't going to grow anymore, if they wind up in an area of your yard that doesn't get sun in the winter, so what? As long as they get sun during the growing season, they'll be okay.  And since you're planning for fall and winter harvests, and because they don't grow anymore, you have to plant five times as much as you would for summer eating.  She just made so much sense, and listed great varieties for winter hardiness that I am going to get her book Backyard Bounty, by Linda Gilkeson, Ph.D.  Then the last thing we sat in on was Biochar, which was another one of those subjects that I've already researched a lot and know to be really useful, but still learned a lot from the talk.  Learned about a little stove that I have to find online and then I'll bring that to you as well.

All in all I've lots to digest, and we will attend more of these if we're able.  You should too, if any of this interests you.  The next one this year will be over three days in early fall: September 21-23 in Seven Springs, Pennsylvania.

The Mother Earth News Fair did not disappoint!  Far from it: it was better than Cats. I'd see it again and again.


John said...

Thanks for the rundown! We really wanted to go, but were both booked for the weekend. Sounds like a a whale of a time!

Miriam said...

Sounds absolutely fascinating! Especially for you, with your future plans in mind.

Hazel said...

I tried commenting a couple of times yesterday, but something funny kept happening (think it was my computer rather than your blog), so third time lucky...

I use Bokashi for cooked food waste that I can't compost or give to the dogs or chickens (so not much).
I use the drain off as plant food (diluted) or to speed up composting in the main heap.

The proper bran makes it very expensive, so I fermented small sheets of newspaper in molasses and live yoghurt whey. These are dried and stored; I reckon you could do the same with spent grain.

The fair sounds great; so many ideas!

simply living said...

My daughter and I wanted to go again this year but I have taken on a weekend job since work is hard to find. We thought it was great last year but needed more diversity, your write up looks like an even better fair this year. The best part was meeting local's for resources.

Anonymous said...

Wow! This is a great review--I will defnintely keep an eye out for one of these fairs. I'm so glad that Linda Gilkeson is out doing the rounds--isn't she amazing? I love her new book, especially because she's from our neck of the woods up here in the Vancouver islands...Glad her reputation is spreading!

kara said...

Hi Paula, I just found your blog from your comment on Mucky Boots Farm, and I'm so glad I did! (This comment isn't specifically related to this post, which breaks blogging law, I guess, but whatevs.) I scrolled through your 2012 To-do list, and kept thinking: Me, too! Me, too!! And then I saw that you also have a top bar beehive, and, dude, me too. :) Anywho, just a few minutes in, your writing is cracking me up, so I just wanted to say hi, and tell you that and I'm psyched to read more.

Kristina @ said...

That picture of the SUV in front of the charging station? Gah!

Obviously we have very different growing conditions but I've done really well growing stuff year round following the instructions in Eliot Coleman's book.

Carolyn said...

Thank you so much for that break-down. The M.E.N Fair is something I've always wanted to attend, but never been able to. I feel like I've almost been there. I'd be interested in hearing what you learned from the biochar workshop. I've always admired Joel Salatin's resolve to do things that set him apart. Wonder what he's really like?
I look forward to hearing more about the fair. Perhaps a post not too far off will discuss it in more detail?