I have always wanted to go to a Mother Earth News Fair, and finally, this year, I got a chance. Kim and I spent a long weekend in Puyallup, Washington, hanging out with lots and lots of homesteaders, gardeners, environmentalists and food activists, going to workshops and demonstrations, and cruising the vendor booths.
Here are a few highlights.
Best workshop (Miriam's pick): "Growing Your Health Independence" by Dawn Combs of Mockingbird Meadows. Lots and lots of specific and practical information about stocking a largely home grown medicine cabinet for common family ailments.
Best workshop (Kim's pick): "Top Bar Hives: It's All About the Wax" by Christy Hemenway. (Here's a link to her TED talk about the importance of honey bees) I probably don't need to tell you that Kim has come home already planning her first hive.
Worst workshop. Ever. Hands Down: "The Half-Acre Homestead" by Lloyd Kahn. Despite its description, and despite the respected and long standing reputation of the presenter, this workshop was a series of photos of "homesteading tools" thought to be useful. Like a pitchfork. And a shovel. And nails hammered into a kitchen wall to hang cooking implements from. A cappuccino maker. And a spatula for scraping plates into a compost bucket. When the presenter started flashing photos of marijuana vaporizers (as a homesteading tool? Really? Is that because homesteading is so horrible?) I left. At the point so had half the audience.
Second worst workshop: "Homestead Healthcare" by Amy and Joseph Alton (aka "Nurse Amy and Doctor Bones"). I had my doubts about this one because the presenters are the owners of a company that sells medical supplies to doomsday preppers, but the workshop description was benign enough I thought there might be something there for me. Nope. Pretty quickly we were into isolation techniques for when the great pandemic hits, and how to keep "your women" from getting pregnant because then they wouldn't be able to contribute 110%. Who has women? Do men still own women? I left before they started talking about treating gunshot wounds and zombie bites.
Favourite signs that you're not at just any country fair: The candy apples? Organic. Those cinnamon-sugar mini donuts? Gluten-free. The pony cart rides?
Those ain't ponies...
Best Vendor Samples: First place goes to Bob's Red Mill, which was giving out gluten-free granola packets, nifty gizmos to keep open packages closed, and dough scrapers. The runner up is Mary's Crackers, which was giving out packets of, well, crackers.
Most Nerdy Fan Moment: Ed Begley Jr? Nah. Joel Salatin? Nope. Not even Barbara Damrosch. For me it was meeting Erica of Northwest Edible Life. I embarrassed myself. Read her wonderful post on the fair for a much more thoughtful take on the weekend than the one you're getting here.
Happiest Moment: Picking up Frankie at the kennel and being greeted by a happy dog instead of a stressed out one.