Sunday, September 30

Mother Earth News Fair

We were so excited to go to the Mother Earth News Fair in Seven Springs PA last weekend. It was amazing! Just amazing!
Beautiful setting, countless workshops, vendors, demonstrations, presentations, exhibits, great food, like-minded people and a positive atmosphere.
So much to do! So much to see! So little time and two demanding and uncooperative children.
Where to start?  We drove the 6 +/- hours to Seven Springs PA early Friday morning with minimal stopping and no bathroom accidents. Little man slept and watched a Scooby Doo DVD and the baby kept herself amused by napping and talking to her reflection in the baby seat mirror.

We arrived late, but still had enough time after checking in to enjoy the events and vendors. This place was huge. Both the indoor and outdoor spaces were filled to the brim with tents of vendors and demonstrations. Presentations were going on in all rooms and in large outdoor tents. The food smelled great and the compost stations didn't smell bad.
We had hoped to arrive early enough to see the Off-Grid Living presentation by Christine and Greg Tailer, but we missed it entirely. We spent time wandering the outdoor vendors until it was time to head to the Mother Earth News Stage (a giant tent in the middle of it all) to hear Joel Salatin speak about feeding the world from 4pm till 5 pm.  Everyone had a great time and those of us with kids in tow kept near the back to avoid disruption and keep noise levels to a minimum. We could still hear Joel and the little man got to run around with all the other kids.
Let me just say that we did not expect little man, or the baby for that matter, to be content sitting through hour after hour of presentations and workshops on composting, bacon making and organic gardening. We had a game plan to divide the schedule into things that Roy wanted to see and things that I could not miss and trade off kid watching duties to get the most out of the weekend.
This worked about half of the time due to temper tantrums, potty needs, conflicting interests and conflicting opinions on what was a fun thing to do at the present time.
Friday finished with a meal at the hotel restaurant, that had a special Mother Earth News Fair menu planned, an a long wait for the shuttle to take us back to our section of the complex. This place was huge and we were staying about 2 miles away from the fair grounds.
Saturday started out chilly but things warmed up ad the morning went on. We started the day with vendor browsing, food and planning our attack. We wanted to see as much as we could between the two of us and to learn as much as possible. Given that up to 14 presentations were going on during the same 1 hour slot all through the day, learning a ton did not seem like a hard task. Actually deciding on 1 and getting to that presentations was definitely harder.
We both wanted to start with Matthew Steins presentation entitled When Technology Fails: Self-reliance and surviving the long emergency, and we hoped that the kids would keep it down to a dull roar for that first hour. We never found out if they would because the room that Mr. Stein was speaking in was totally packed. There were people lined up in the hallway trying to catch what he was saying. There was also a long line of ladies with kids in strollers also trying to listen - a stroller was just not an acceptable form of filling space in that room. people wanted to be in there and to hear this guy.
We decided to check out the bookstore instead.
The bookstore was fantastic. We spent a lot of time, and a lot of money, but it was well worth it. We left with the following additions to our homestead library:
Free range Chicken Gardens - Jessi Bloom
The Gardener's Weed Book - Barbara Pleasant
The Gardener's Bug Book - Barbara Pleasant
The Backyard Goat - Sue Weaver
Home Cheese Making - Ricki Carroll
The Complete Guide to Saving Seeds - Robert Gough
Surviving the Apocalypse in the Suburbs - Wendy Brown
Great Possessions - David Kline
Just the Greatest Life - David Schafer
EcoPreneuring - John Ivanko abd Linda Kivirist
When Disaster Strikes - Matthew Stein
When Technology Fails - Matthew Stein
What's Wrong With My Vegetable Garden? - David Deardorff
Joel Salatin's presentation - totally packed!
I was very interested in the herbal healing presentations but I did not get to see many of them. I was saving my "kid-free" time for Joel Salatin and Jenna Woginrich that afternoon. It started to rain after lunch so the Mother Earth News stage was packed to capacity with many more people standing as close as they could to get under the eves of the tent. it was definitely standing room only for Joel Salatin for his talk, Folks, This Ain't Normal. I got to enjoy every bit of it while Roy took the kids inside for demonstrations and vendors. It was excellent and I hope that there will be a video online shortly.
We spent the next hour and a half looking at all the animals they had on exhibit. The baby loved the alpacas. She could not get enough of them. She pulled herself up in her stroller and got as close as she could to them. Little man loved all the animals, especially the pigs and the lamas. We all spent a lot of time going up and down the rows looking and petting and talking with the owners.

Packing with Alpacas demonstration

Jenna Woginrich's presentation, The Need Fire: How kindling community ignites a farm, was very interesting. I am a fan of Jenna's writing and it was a treat to hear her and to say hello. I met her at the Plan B workshop this past spring and I have been inspired by her since I discovered her blog a few years ago. 

Jenna Woginrich of Cold Antler Farm

On Sunday we made time for the Permaculture for Farms lecture given by Darrell Frey of Three Sisters Farm. This was very interesting and it gave me a lot of great ideas for our property, the top one being that we need to dig a pond here. His book, Bioshelter Market Garden: A Permaculture Farm, is highly recommended. Roy attended a workshop entitled How to Cure Your Own Bacon which he was impressed with. "People are very passionate about their bacon..." he told me afterwards.

Darrell Frey of Three Sisters Farm
Matthew Stein was speaking again on Sunday and we made sure that we were there to see it. He was in the outdoor tent so there was plenty of room, although every seat was filled. i ended up having to take little man to the potty about half way through which, if you have an almost 4 year old takes a little time, and i missed most of the rest of the presentation. Luckily, Roy had the video camera out and I was able to enjoy the talk later.

 There were too many vendors to name - so much information and so many ideas......

 And demonstrations....

 And these pictures only show a fraction of what was there. It was just amazing! One of the best parts was that we were not nuts. In that I mean the people attending the fair were mostly all of the same mindset. Sustainability, preparedness, environmental preservation, organic, off-grid, hand made, raw milk and real. You could start a conversation with someone sitting next to you at the lunch table about non-GMO seeds and the virtues of line-drying and they did not look at you like you had a third eye on your forehead. They just started talking right back about the same things, adding in bits about Monsanto and home made pickles.

My kind of people.


  1. Meredith, you were so fortunate to attend the Mother Earth Fair. I am local to the Rochester area and there is a small group of us who get together to talk about homesteading and make cheese and just share. Although since one gal has a foster child and a new baby we haven't met in a while. I was wondering if you might be willing to come and share with us a little of what you learned either at the MEF or just from your experiences?

    1. Heidi,
      I am sorry that it has taken me so long to reply. I think that is great that you have a homesteading group! Do you have a blog or website that I could check out?
      Since we had both of the little ones with us on the trip to MEF, we did not get to experience nearly as much as we wanted, such as workshops and lectures and the hands-on learning. So, in that aspect, I don;t know if I would be able to provide you with good quality information.
      As for what we do here, we have the chickens and the garden, but indoor projects such as knitting and catching up on reading all those books we got at the fair are filling the winter hours. And, the kids, of course! Very time consuming!
      So I think I am in the same boat as your one group member with the new baby - hard to make plans and get places.
      When do you meet?

  2. Great post! I am a new follower. I hope I can persuade you to come share at my Farm Girl Blog Fest: