Mother Earth News Fair, 1980

The 1980 edition of the Mother Earth News Fair featured a wide range of self-sufficiency projects and seminars in energy generation, home construction, and food preparation and storage.
By the MOTHER EARTH NEWS editors
March/April 1980
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LEFT: The fair's wiener roasts offer Shiloh Farms' preservative-free hot dogs. RIGHT: Randy Kidd will tell you how to raise backyard livestock.
PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
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With the prices of goods of every description skyrocketing, the value of gold fluctuating giddily (at the time of this writing) from well above to far below the $800 mark, and both the cost and availability of fossil fuels more uncertain by the hour, it's nice to know that knowledge is as valuable today as it was yesterday and will hold its worth well beyond tomorrow.

And there's no kind of "learnin' " that has more value than plain old hands-on "how-to" know-how . . . which is just the sort of practical education offered by the series of seminars at the 1980 MOTHER EARTH NEWS Fair! Better yet, this year's "shows" will offer more classes (five three-day seminars and eighteen one-day programs) and more opportunities to attend (the complete series will be presented during each of four weeks next summer as opposed to the three groups of seminars offered last year) than did our successful 1979 Mother Earth Weeks.

Of course, the classes themselves will be improved, too. For one thing, there'll be more chances to "dig in and do it" — almost across the whole range of seminar subjects — than were possible during our first "shakedown" programs. There'll be a number of new offerings too, as well as some rearranging of previously presented classes to be certain you get extra information for your investment.

And — to give you the full scoop on just what kind of great educational experiences are already being prepared for you — here's a thumbnail sketch of our five three-day intensive classes:

Residential Solar Systems

We've really pulled out the stops to make this three-day seminar (which was one of our 1979 winners!) even more exciting and valuable. Instructors Ben Fleming and Kirk Goble will open the class with a first-day schedule that'll provide a background in practical solar greenhouse construction techniques ... including a visit to a functioning hot-house and information on the ins and outs of growing crops "indoors".

Day Two is sure to be a hit, as Ellie Pruess will discuss — with the help of explanatory slides — passive solar applications . . . including the beautiful and efficient solar home that she and her husband Don designed and built. Those of you who met Ellie in last year's Wholistic Gardening seminar will know just how information-packed and inspirational this lady's presentation is bound to be!

The show will wind up on Day Three . . . but we've saved the best for last! Detailed discussions of active residential solar systems — illustrated with many slides and displays — will provide the keynote for the day . . . and a visit to some working solar demonstrations constructed by MOTHER EARTH NEWS' own "mad inventor," Dennis Burkholder, will top it all off.

Contractor-Built Earth-Sheltered Homes

If you're an architect, contractor, insurance agent, or anyone who plans to have an earth-sheltered home built, this is the seminar that can provide you with the answers you need. You'll learn about the advantages — and, where applicable, the disadvantages — of such typical "underground" home materials as precast or poured-in-place concrete, reinforced concrete, treated wood, and more! And the theory will be beefed up with actual case histories and models.

David Carter, author of Digging In , will be the instructor . . . and Dave will be assisted by Paul Isaacson.

Do-It-Yourself Earth Sheltered Homes

If on the other hand the thought of owning your own energy-efficient home sets your hammer arm to itchin', this is the class for you. Because, along with the necessary background information, our "do it yourself" program will feature the opportunity to try some actual construction work with cordwood, block, treated wood, and rough-cut lumber . . . to give you a solid basic "working knowledge" of substantial, waterproof, inexpensive earth-sheltered homes. The instructor is Robert Roy (whose book, Underground Houses, can be found at many bookstores). Rob will be assisted by Paul Isaacson.

The Self-Sufficient Home or Homestead

MOTHER EARTH NEWS' "animal medicine man," veterinarian Randy Kidd will offer tips on raising livestock, wholistic and other gardening methods, orchard and tree-crop management, water systems, the "sharp eye" method of land evaluation, composting toilets, do-it-yourself energy systems, and more! Audiovisuals — plus the opportunity to work with animals, inspect functioning springhouses, etc. — will round out this jam-packed program.

Wholistic Foods, Herbs, and Health

There's no doubt in the mind of anyone around MOTHER EARTH NEWS' offices that this will be one of the most exciting seminars of our whole 1980 series (just as the Wholistic Foods section — run individually — was among the biggest hits of last year's shows). Richard Colgan and Marilyn Baker will offer tantalizing herbal hints and solid health care information, and actually cook up — by way of demonstrations — scrumptious wholistic recipes for you to eat! You can be sure that this particular class will fill up fast!

And, while you're visiting MOTHER EARTH NEWS' "pretty as a postcard" square mile of mountain property, you'll be able to pick and choose from the following fascinating one-day seminars, too:

Low Cost Solar Heating Systems

Dennis Burkholder — designer of many of MOTHER EARTH NEWS' "Solar on a Shoestring" projects — will show you, with actual working units, any number of ways you can build your own solar heating systems (both water and air) without having to buy expensive "specialty" materials or hire high-priced contractors.

The Solar Greenhouse

Before you sink your own cash into the construction of a sun-heated greenhouse, let MOTHER's Ben Fleming and Kirk Goble lead you through one or more working examples (we've got already-functioning units on our seminar property). You'll have a chance to work in — and compare — different passive greenhouse designs . . . to study a number of approaches to hot and cold frame construction . . . and to expand your hands-on understanding by viewing top-notch models and audiovisuals.

Raising Backyard/Homestead Livestock

Randy Kidd will be running this class . . . and you can bet that "The Kidd" will be prepared with tested tips that can make your livestock venture — whether you're raising Black Angus or bullfrogs — more enjoyable and profitable. The program will allow you to jump right in, too: There'll be opportunities to sex rabbits, examine laying hens (and learn how to tell a good producer from a poor one), milk cows. and scratch the heads of a couple of Miss Piggy look-alikes to boot!

Beekeeping Methods

A source of homegrown sweetener can go a long way toward making a homestead self-supporting . . . or lowering the food bills (and raising the satisfaction levels) in any rural, suburban, or urban household. This class will provide you with the necessary theory, and then let you don a veil to smoke and inspect functioning beehives. You'll learn to identify queens, handle workers (safely!), remove frames of honey (and maybe sneak a lick or two), install supers, and much more. Bill and Nancy McCullough — with years of beekeeping experience between them — will be your guides.

Cordwood Construction

Here's a course that will offer indisputable, firsthand-experience proof that dang near anyone can successfully build a home, garage, barn, or outbuilding for virtually nothing. Jack Henstridge will guide you along with hands-on work, slides, models, and his own inimitable wit and wisdom.

Rammed Earth Construction

Instructors David and Lydia Miller have built five rammed earth homes since 1945 . . . and they'll share their knowledge about this fascinating technique that produces lovely, passively solar-heated, durable homes from earth. Best of all, the instructors and participants will actually roll up their sleeves and work on a full-sized, solar-heated rammed earth structure!

Wild Foods and Foraging

Last year's seminar attendees raved about this class . . . and it's been packed with more information, more experiences, and more fun for 1980. MOTHER EARTH NEWS' own Robin Woods (who'll teach plant foraging) and Carl Mimms (who'll discuss ways to harvest wild animals) will wrap up the fascinating day by taking you on a field trip during which you'll be able to do your own foraging . . . and the gathered bounty will then be whipped up into tasty dishes for you to try. This is a must for anyone who's ever been intrigued by the challenge of livin' off the land.

Wholistic Gardening

Here's another of 1979's hit programs ... expanded and improved for next time around. Ellie Pruess — who's had experience in using wholistic methods to raise everything from carrots to cattle — will offer her own expertise (and give her students the chance to do-it-themselves) on composting, natural pest control, greenhouse work, and all facets of the science of keeping plants happy by building healthy soil.

Silvaculture or Tree Farming

More and more people are beginning to discover the potential of one of the easiest and most efficient kinds of agriculture imaginable ... tree farming. MOTHER EARTH NEWS' own Larry Hollar — who's in charge of planting and stewarding the Eco-Village's tree crops — will describe with audiovisuals (and show you during field trips) the ecologically beneficial, productive world of lifetime arboreal gardens . . . and demonstrate the woodchip compost heating methods of Jean Pain!

Food Preservation

This class will provide an intensive overview of the major methods by which food can be "put by" to cut grocery bills, accommodate bumper crops without waste, and preserve today's plenty against a less-bountiful tomorrow. You'll see demonstrations of the tricks of the trade used in drying, canning, and freezing foods, and have a chance to sample tasty victuals preserved by each of these methods. The class will also present the use and construction of back-to-basics foodkeeping structures — like root cellars and springhouses — and give you a chance to explore such "homestead refrigerators" firsthand!

Ultralight Aircraft

We decided to offer this seminar as a result of the groundswell of requests for information that followed instructor Jack McCornack's article "The Flight of the Microlights" about the tiny, no-license-required aircraft. Students will assemble one of the graceful little "birds" from a kit, receive tips on problem-free ultralight flying, and enjoy a demonstration — conducted by modern barnstormer McCornack — of just how easy it is to "take wing." If you've ever dreamed of flying (and who hasn't), you won't want to miss this class.

The 100 MPG Automobile

Is it, indeed, really possible for an auto to travel a full 100 miles on a scant gallon of gasoline? "Yes!" say MOTHER EARTH NEWS' researchers Dennis Burkholder and Emerson Smyers . . . who'll describe various new directions in car design (including hybrid electric vehicles), and — to put the frosting on the cake — display a 100-MPG "wonder" car that they built at our research center.

Farmer's Alcohol

In this program — which was a hit last summer and, in its expanded and updated form, drew crowds of 1,000 people during a road tour of the American Midwest — you'll actually help run off a batch of ethanol and learn how to convert a vehicle (in minutes!) to use the renewable fuel. The class will include the theory, mash formulas, and still designs (including a description of MOTHER EARTH NEWS' six-inch column still) you'll need to get down to work and "brew it yourself."

Methane Production and Use

As many of you remember, MOTHER EARTH NEWS pioneered methane generation way back in 1972, and we've kept up to date with the "state of the art" in biogas production ever since. You'll learn how to operate gaslights, stoves, refrigerators, space heaters, and even auto engines on fuel that can be made from virtually any kind of organic waste . . . including cow manure! Richard Freudenberger of MOTHER EARTH NEWS' research staff will provide information, audiovisuals, and the opportunity for hands-on experience.

Steam Engines

You'll have a chance to explore both old and new steam engine designs in this one-day seminar. Vapor-power expert Vello H. Ebrok will conduct the class, during which you'll fire up a 20-HP "steamer" and watch it run MOTHER EARTH NEWS' sawmill, use our solar furnace to drive a steam engine with "free" sun energy, look over the solar-powered steam engine that MOTHER EARTH NEWS' researchers designed and built from an old refrigerator compressor, and more!

Small Hydroelectric Systems

MOTHER EARTH NEWS staffer David Schoonmaker will use our new hydroelectric plant — installed at the Eco-Village property — to give you the firsthand background necessary to understand the principles of water power. Waterwheels, turbines, and other hardware will be available for your inspection . . . and you'll have a chance to measure a stream and design a homestead-sized hydro system!

Small Wind Power Systems

Here's another of the real winners from our 1979 seminars. And it'll be better this year. John D'Angelo will show you a windplant feeding a bank of storage batteries, demonstrate the installation and hookup of a commercial windpower installation, and teach you how to build your own Savonius rotor.

Log Building

This seminar will be even better than last year's program on the same subject! The class will be led by the B. Allan, Mackie School of Log Building (Mr. Mackie himself will conduct the June seminar), and will include audiovisuals, lectures, and hands-on work with logs.

And There's Much, Much More!

A complete workbook — more detailed and fact-filled than last year's — will be provided to you in each and every class you attend. There'll be more to see on MOTHER EARTH NEWS' property, too . . . including new nature walks into our lovely North Carolina mountains.

Both camper and tent parking will be available on a first come, first served basis for $6.00 a day, and a top-notch day care program will offer instruction and fun for youngsters up to 12 years of age for a daily fee of $6.00 per child.

There'll be evenings around the campfire (and probably a MOTHER EARTH NEWS-provided hot dog roast or two) like last year's, too. And you can expect the same sort of song and sound fests that filled the night air with music in 1979 . . . so be sure to bring your guitars, fiddles, mouth harps (or whatever) along.

You can bet that MOTHER EARTH NEWS will have a few "free for the doin' " daytime activities available, as well . . . to make valuable use of any time that's not taken up by your regular classes. Our visitors can look forward to lessons in mountain crafts (such as dyeing, basketmaking, whittling, etc.) and perhaps some build'em-yourself wildlife housing workshops to boot.


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