Mother Earth News Blogs > Mother Earth News Fair

Mother Earth News Fair

Our FAIRS bring living wisely to life with hands-on workshops in organic gardening, country skills, renewable energy and more.

Seven Springs Speaker Spotlight: Pat Foreman, Chicken Advocate

Get to know Pat Foreman of Good Earth Publications. 

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

Pat ForemanThe three workshops I’m presenting at the Fair all revolve around enabling local food production by employing chickens’ skill sets. This could also be called the Chicken Have More Plan. The course descriptions give a good summary:

1. Gardening with—and for—Chickens: Chickens have skill sets that can be gainfully employed in backyard gardens. This interactive discussion will give you practical and effective cutting-edge ways to integrate chickens in with your yard and garden. Topics include types of fencing (what works and what doesn’t), when to let birds in—and when to keep them out—of specific crops life cycles, bird-scaping, and, best of all, getting wholesome, home-grown food for both you, and your flock. This is truly be a “Think Outside the Coop” workshop.

2. Chickens as Partners Toward Zero Waste: The chickens in your family flock have skill sets that can be used not only for local food production, but also to decrease the amount of “trash” that is collected by the solid waste management system. Learn how your feathered bi-peds can serve as biomass-recyclers and clucking civic workers to help save BIG TIME tax payer dollars, as well as planet protectors and emergency preparedness partners.

3. Chicken Whispering: Discover the Chicken You Never Knew. There are ways to handle and communicate with chickens that can result in trust, gentleness and even an emotional bond. But first you must learn how a chicken thinks, and prefers to be treated. It’s sometimes not what you think. Some birds can even be trained to serve as therapy chickens and class room assistants. Learn the basics of chicken whispering in this cutting-edge seminar.

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

I’m most looking forward to sharing a paradigm of how local agriculture can be sustainable, especially with the help of chickens to work as pesticiders, herbiciders, fertilizers as well as high-quality protein providers.

Robert Rodale believed that the farm of the future would be hyper-productive “chinks” of land between the subdivisions.

Now here’s a question for you. What is the largest fertilized and irrigated crop in America? It’s not corn, nor wheat, nor soybeans—it’s grass! There are 30 to 40 million acres of fescue being watered and fertilized every year.

We are not lacking land to grow food in, we just need a different paradigm of empowering local food production as in Rodale’s vision and the Chicken Have More Plan.

Tell us about your background with your particular topic. 

I’m a pharmacist and have a degree in Animal Science (genetics and nutrition) from Purdue University. In Pharmacy, we were taught about the Recommended Daily Allowances (RDAs) which are the minimal amount of nutrition necessary to keep a disease from showing.

In Animal science, we were taught how to formulate feed rations to obtain optimal health for the animal, and enhance its performance.

All my career I’ve had the professional paradox of optimal nutrition for animals vs. just keep disease from showing in humans. My question is: why don’t we have optimal health for humans?

But this question has even deeper roots. In my soil science studies, we were taught that health begins in living soils. The nutrients (amino acids, vitamins, minerals, lipids, proteins) all pass up the food chain….or not.

How does this relate to chickens? My interest in chickens began over 20 years ago with building soil fertility and tilth in a sandy loam flood plain so that a community farm could start. The soil was so sandy that it couldn’t hold enough moisture to grow crops. That’s when we built our first chicken tractor. So my first experience with chickens was not for eggs, nor meat, but to build, and enhance, living, organic top soil for a community farm.

Why should fairgoers attend your presentation? 

Fairgoers that attend my presentations will gain insights about how they can have more self-reliance by understanding where truly healthy food comes from. This includes understanding the value of living soils and local food supply. They will gain insights on how to improve their health, lower carbon foot prints, and get food directly from their kitchen gardens or local growers, They will also learn how to employ chickens as bio-recyclers that will save BIG TIME tax payer dollars by diverting kitchen and yard “wastes” from the trash collection system, and converting that “waste” into compost and top soil.

Fairgoers can also begin to understand that family flocks have a valuable role to play in emergency preparedness and national defense strategies.

They will learn that chickens have personalities and are truly “pets with benefits”.

How will you get to the FAIR, and how far do you have to travel? 

I will be driving my Prius from Lexington, Virginia.

What are you most looking forward to at the FAIR? 

There are so many presenters I want to meet and learn from. I am looking forward to helping folks understand how family flocks not only enhance local agriculture with their skill sets.

What advice do you have for attendees? 

It’s time to think outside the coop and inside local agriculture.

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

A real genie in a magic bottle…but perhaps a better choice might be a backpack transmitter, receiver and built-in solar panel so I call for help.


Please visit the FAIR website for more information about the Seven Springs, Pa. FAIR September 24-25, and upcoming FAIRs in other locations. Tickets are on sale now.

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

Keep an eye out for Trivia Ticket Tuesdays and Trivia Ticket Thursdays for your chance to win two tickets to the FAIR!