Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
Waves of rain billowed over my parents, me, and the other Fairgoers as we waited for the shuttle. Umbrellas bobbed through the parking lot; the rain pattered on the thin layer of water that had already collected on the ground.
It was the second day of the 2013 Mother Earth News Fair in Seven Springs, Pennsylvania, and despite the fact that I suspected we’d need an ark to get back to our campsite, I was excited for what I might learn today because of what I’d learned yesterday. It doesn’t matter how much you know already, there is always something to learn at the Mother Earth News Fair.
I’d discovered this one day previously, on the first day of the Fair. Marveling at the number of people in attendance, my parents and I had wandered between vendors’ tents. I’d learned the difference between a yurt and a dome house, and found two new varieties of garlic and an interesting chicken coop plan. But if the vendors were informative, they were nothing to the organized classes.
My favorite class of the entire weekend was the first one I attended, being about wild foods. Informative and detailed, it gave me tidbits that I’d never even dreamed of—for example, that hosta shoots can be roasted like asparagus. At the end of the class, we were allowed to sample wild edibles that the teacher had prepared, and they were excellent—I loved the wild-leek pesto, speckled green against its cracker, spicy and complex. Though I was too tired to pay much attention to my next class and had to leave partway through, I remember that it was about biochar and well-done.
And so despite the downpour the next day, I had high expectations.
As the shuttle bumped us down the hill behind the main building, we saw that the deluge had caused many of the outside vendors to simply pack up and go home. Those who remained had lifted their electrical cords out of the water on the ground, coiling them snakelike on chairs, tables, whatever they had.
There were few classes that day that I had any particular interest in attending, so we spent most of that day in the Fair bookstore. Most all the books went on my Christmas list immediately, but we only ended up buying two. After leaving the bookstore and investigating a few of the indoor vendors, we went to a class on pickling, and then we were off to the camper again through sheets of rain.
Since we had to drive home on the third day of the Fair, we didn’t get to spend as much time there as we’d have liked, but we went home excited for everything we’ve learned. Now if only I can wheedle my parents into attending again next year …
If you haven’t yet attended a Mother Earth News Fair, I would highly recommend the experience. This is the Fair website.