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Puyallup Speaker Spotlight: Jessica Kellner, Handbuilt Home Expert and Michael Vicha, Cheesemaker

5/23/2011 3:39:00 PM

Tags: Puyallup 2011, speaker spotlight, modern homesteading, Erica Binns

 Get to know Jessica Kellner of Natural Home & Garden Magazine and Michael Vicha of Mt. Townsend Creamery. 

What are you going to speak about at the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR? 

I’m speaking on the subject of my upcoming book, Housing Reclaimed. It’s about the ways in which we can use salvaged materials to build slower, more customized, more harmonious homes for very little money. It’s also about the vast amount of construction waste we send to the landfill every year, and how we could make much better use of all those materials by using them to create much-needed low-income housing.

KellnerWhat are you most looking forward to sharing with FAIR attendees? 

I’m most looking forward to sharing the amazing stories and photos of the handbuilt homes the families and individuals in my book have created.

Tell us about your background with your particular topic. 

I’ve been an editor at Natural Home & Garden magazine for six years. Through my work, I’ve learned a lot about the beautiful, unique homes created nationwide out of interesting, unconventional materials. These inexpensive but lovingly handbuilt homes gained much greater significance in my view after the housing market crashed in 2008. I started thinking about all the waste we send to the landfill, and about ways we could make housing financially sustainable, as we also consider sustainability from an energy-efficiency and materials perspective.

Why should fairgoers attend your presentation? 

Whether you’re interested in building your own home, reducing landfill waste, making our home more intimately connected with us, increasing the amount of quality low-income housing, or just looking at pictures of amazing homes, you will find something of interest in this presentation.


What are you going to speak about at the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR? 

I am going to give a Queso Fresco cheesemaking demonstration on the Eating Well Stage from 2:00-2:45 pm on Saturday June 4th; and I will also be giving a demo/workshop for kids about the cheese make process using camembert as guide from 11:00-11:45am on Saturday June 4th.

Vicha small What are you most looking forward to sharing with FAIR attendees? 

My Love and Excitement about everything Cheese!!!!

Tell us about your background with your particular topic. 

I have been a cheese enthusiast since I was a teenager in the Midwest. My enthusiasm grew as I travelled the country, culminating in my starting to work for Mount Townsend Creamery as a wrapper 5 years ago. Within a year of starting I was working on cheese makes. I spent much of my personal time studying cheesemaking, as well as taking a couple of short courses. Since January 2010 I have been the head cheese maker at Mount Townsend Creamery.

Why should fairgoers attend your presentation? 

First off, come and learn how to make cheese! Additionally, you can gain the confidence to express yourself through the milk, for making cheese is an art. Cheesemaking is habit forming because the more you attempt making cheese, the more you learn. There is no plateau in learning about cheese; cheesemaking is never boring.

What are you most looking forward to at the FAIR? 

I am looking forward to giving the kids workshop on cheesemaking.

What advice do you have for attendees? 

Have an open mind and absorb as much as you can.

If you were stranded on a deserted island and could have only one thing, what would you choose? 

My Family.

Thank you both. We'll see you at the FAIR! 


Please visit the FAIR website for more information about the Puyallup, Wash. FAIR June 4-5, and upcoming FAIRs in San Rafael, Calif. and Seven Springs, Penn. Tickets are on sale now for all fairs.

You can also get updates on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

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