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Mother Earth News Fair Roundup

This year I went to the Mother Earth News Fair in Puyallup, WA for the first time, and you can believe I will be going again. The Fair was an amazing opportunity to gain knowledge and meet people with similar ideas, lifestyles and goals. The Mother Earth News Fair had Tons of workshops, demonstrations on and off stage, tons of samples and incredibly informative seminars on everything from beginning gardening to bow making and a live poultry processing demonstration.

My original plan was to go for Saturday only, I live a long ways from Puyallup and we’re a pretty busy family, but my husband expressed interest in going on Sunday and so I bought weekend passes (It was only an additional $5 per person for the second day). In the end I went by myself on Sunday and I am so glad I did. There was so much great information I would have missed out on had I only gone on Saturday, and even though I gave my husband a hard time for deciding not to go it was nice to be able to go to all the seminars I wanted to and not have kids pulling for my attention all day.

Favorite Seminars

There were 13 stages each with a seminar every hour and a half. There were Six blocks of seminars on Saturday and Five time blocks of seminars on Sunday. I went with my Mom on Saturday and highlighted all the seminars I wanted to go to, and then we decided which ones we both really wanted to see (I highlighted two -three seminars I wanted to see in each time frame and wish I could have gone to all of them). My favorite seminars of the weekend, if I had to narrow it down, included What the Cluck? with Jessie Bloom, author of Free-Range Chicken Gardens: How to Create a Beautiful, Chicken-Friendly Yard. She gave a great entry level talk into gardening with chickens and spoke a lot on the different types of plants that chickens like to be around, but won’t eat. Sounds like I have some great garden ideas for our next house!

Another Standout Seminar was Charlotte Smith’s talk on Raw Milk Production: Safety and Benefits. It was, in my mothers words, life changing. My immediate family has been drinking raw milk for a short while now, but I’m so excited that my Mom is going to start drinking raw milk. Charlotte also spoke a lot about Kefir, how to make it and it’s health benefits. I had heard a little about kefir, but never in detail, and I’m excited to try making it for my family as well.

Charlotte showing her Kefir grain
Answering questions and giving advice after the seminar

Charlotte is also scheduled to be speaking at the Mother Earth News Fair in Kansas on October 25-26th so if you can go you should really check out her seminar.

Sunday morning I had to rush out the door to try and make it to the Live Poultry Processing Processing Demo with Joel Salatin and David Schaffer.

David Schaffer and Joel Salatin Processing Chickens

I rushed in about seven minutes late, but considering how far I drove I think I did pretty good. Last year we raised, processed and ate five ducks, but we’ve never processed chickens, and this year we are planning to process our first batch. Luckily the demonstration was an hour and a half so I didn’t miss much. All the equipment for the demo was provided by David Schaffer from  Featherman Equipment and it was really impressive. We’re not in the market for poultry processing equipment, but when we are their plucker will be our first purchase. I was intently watching the demonstration and taking notes on everything they were saying, at one point I was writing notes and when I looked up they had put the birds in the plucker and they were already plucked! I couldn’t believe how fast it was.

Processing Chickens

Joel Salatin wrapped up the Fair on Sunday with his seminar Heretics Unite. It was a hilarious look the problems with our modern food system and the mainstream beliefs that convenience is more important than nutrition, or sustainability.

Heretics unite was a great way to end the fair, but I don’t want to spoil the fun if you’re planing on attending the Mother Earth News Fair in Pennsylvania or Kansas this year. Just know it’s worth it to see Joel speak. If you’re not able to attend one of the fairs this year don’t worry, someone from Mother Earth News was filming and I’m sure they’ll post the seminar soon. You can also view Joel’s speech from last years fair here.

Favorite Vendors/Exhibitors

I’m going to preface this by saying I didn’t get to see near as many of the exhibitions as I would have like to this year, I spent the majority of my time in seminars, so I’m sure there were many, many more fantastic vendors and exhibitors that I didn’t have the opportunity to talk to. Of the exhibitors I saw these were my favorites.

Washington State Conservation Commission 

The Washington State Conservation Commission was at the fair giving away free bushes and trees all weekend long! They had Western Red Cedar, Shore Pine, Ponderosa Pine, Sitka Spruce, Quaking Aspen, Vine Maple, Red Flowering Currant, Serviceberry and Red Osier Dogwood. They also had free Puget Sound Planting Calendars for basic edibles.

Bob’s Red Mill

The Red Mill booth had a great display of so many products I had never seen in grocery stores before. Most of the stores I shop at have six to eight different Red Mill products and I really had no idea they offered so many different products. Bob’s Red Mill offers so many alternatives to traditional refined wheat flour from rice flour to coconut four, quinoa and gluten free pancake, brownie mixes and more. Their product guide offered even more products than they had on display, and they offered great advice on ordering product through my local grocery store.

Featherman Equipment

David Schaffer from Featherman Equipment was great. I met him on Saturday before the Poultry demo, and stopped by again on Sunday to pick up a brochure and chat some more. Their equipment in great, and he’s happy to answer any questions. Without trying to sell me anything David was happy to talk about my current flock and set up, and encourage me to try a few meat birds this year, which I confess I’ve been wanting to do for awhile, but I’ve been apprehensive to take on another new project this year.

Made in House DIY Cheese Kits

We had a great time at the DIY Cheese Kits booth and asked a ton a of questions about cheese making and the milk they use to make their cheese (Raw milk from a herdshare, awesome!). My mom bought a cheese making kits, and I’m so excited to give it a try with her!

Other Fair Fun

My little’s had a blast checking out the Llamas, sheepdog herding demonstration and poultry show.

llama4-H Llama showsheepdog herding demo

Weekend Highlights

I had an amazing amount of fun at the Mother Earth News Fair this year and learned so much. On top of all the great seminars and vast amounts of information I gained this weekend I had two standout moments on Sunday (I can’t believe I almost missed it). During the Sustainable Living Simplified seminar with John Ivanko and Lisa Kivirist I won a drawing for their book Ecopreneuring: Putting Purpose and the Planet Before Profits. It looks like a great book, and they signed it for me. Plus, who doesn’t love winning stuff?

Lastly, after Joel Salatin’s closing speech he did a book signing in the bookstore and I got to meet him! It would have been cooler if I had thought of something interesting and witty to say, but it all came out like “I, uh… thanks…”

me and joel salatin

After two awesome days at the Fair I owe a huge thank you to my step-mom for subscribing me to Mother Earth News in the first place, and I’m only disappointed I have to wait a whole year for the next fair. Did any of you go? What were your favorite seminars/vendors/exhibitors?