Thursday, September 27, 2012

Mother Earth News Fair- Pennsylvania

 Last weekend, we drove up to Somerset, Pennsylvania to attend the Mother Earth News Fair, which is all things sustainable, off-the-grid, organic, and farming-related. After many years in west, I imagined we'd be surrounded by a crowd of bearded, pierced and plaid-wearing hippie farmers. Instead it looked like people from Iowa. Or North Dakota. Just regular folks, from mostly the upper east coast: PA, MD, NY, OH. We were some of the furthest traveling attendees, aside from another couple we met from Alabama.

The theme was definitely not organic, though it was an emphasis. I think it was more do-it-yourself, and mostly for cheap (though there were so many vendors it's easy to suddenly find an empty wallet). We sat though a talk by Joel Salatin, who has a farm in rural Virginia and has been featured on several documentaries about farming. His approach is really back in time, and logical. Rather than piling on chemicals, and penning up his animals, he lets his cattle graze and moves his chicken coops to spread their droppings, which serve as fertilizer. Of course he's written several books on the topic, which we started reading, and only 20 pages in to "The Sheer Ecstasy of Being a Lunatic Farmer", we'd gleaned enough to warrant the price of the book.

 [Joel Salatin]

I dropped in on Mother Earth's editor Cheryl Long's talk on Organic Fertilizers, and learned that human pee is a good addition to your garden (diluted). As well as confirmation for what my mom always said, "Leave the grass clippings on the yard!" (Or stash them in your compost bin for later.) We met a couple from Chicago who bought a farm in rural Wisconsin and have been slowing going off the grid while running a B&B and raising their son. 

Three days worth of conference introduced us to new ways of thinking and ideas for our place. We figured out that solar panels are very involved and expensive and maybe something down the line.

For a long time, I've been rethinking lawns. The whole idea of them is rather insane, as well as the amount of pollution we produce by having a lawn. After the conference, I wanted to find a way to forgo a lawn all together and truthfully would not mind planting the whole lawn to garden. But I don't think I am going to have a choice in that matter.

[what we'd like for our next camper trailer]
The Lawn Boy
 Quite a lot on animal husbandry. I'm still pretty much vegetarian, and if I had to kill it myself, that would cement my feelings toward meat forever.
 How true this is, especially something I've noticed since escaping the city traffic.
 I wish we would take this seriously.
The seeds were $1 a packet so we went crazy. They are now stored in air tight bags in our fridge until we're ready to use them.
I noticed everyone was wearing blue jeans.
The festival was held at Seven Springs Resort in PA which is owned by the same family who runs Mother Earth News, Grit, and Utne Reader.

 I have a strange affinity for the idea of a composting toilet.

Until next year, goodbye PA! 
(The festival is also held in Washington south of Seattle, 
and a third location is planned for Kansas starting next year.)

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