Light Straw-Clay Building Coming of Age in North America

This past year has been a hallmark year for the advancement of Light Straw-Clay building. The publication of our new book The EcoNest Home and the latest edition of Franz Volhard’s book Light Earth Building translated into English, and the inclusion of Light Straw-Clay Building in the International Residential Code has made this beautiful form of construction accessible to more people than ever before in modern times.

The Homemade Sauerkraut-and-Corned-Beef Reuben Sandwich that Almost Happened

I had every intention of writing a DIY Reuben Sandwich post this month and, while I did manage to make some sauerkraut and corned beef, I hit a bit of a glitch at the end. The effort was there, but my execution - or better still - will power, failed me. However, in the end, I had a great batch of sauerkraut and a tasty, if short-lived, corned beef to show for my efforts. With a little planning and some time, corned beef and sauerkraut are both easy to make and great tasting.

6 Things More Difficult than Building Yourself a Green Home

People think building is difficult. It’s not. And in the hope of encouraging a few more wannabe natural builders, I’ve compiled the following list. Because in my experience, there are far harder things in life than building a house.

Visit to Texas and the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

In February the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR went to Texas. Many people travel long distances to attend these Fairs. As long as you are making the trip, get the most out of it as you can. Read the schedule of speakers ahead and plan your weekend. Also, take time to enjoy the sights in the surrounding area. Here is a bit about my time in Texas for the FAIR.

Can Dogs and Chickens Coexist?

Members of our Facebook community share the techniques they employed to make their dogs and chickens compatible companions.

10 Reasons to Build an Earthbag House

My earthbag home has liberated me from a mortgage. The technique has numerous benefits. Here’s my list of why anyone might want to think about an earthbag home.

Simple Bean Chili with Sweet Potatoes and Squash Recipe

Pressure cooking is a quick, healthy and efficient way to cook a myriad of dishes. In this recipe from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR in Topeka, Kan., vegan cookbook author Jill Nussinow introduces a simple bean chili recipe that includes nutritious fall favorites, sweet potatoes and squash.

Food Fermentation at the FAIR

Fermentation is the rage at the Pennsylvania MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR. Here's a peak at Sandor Katz' presentation and some of the cool new vendors who have joined the fermentation revitalization.

Plant Flowers to Attract Beneficial Pollinators

As my awareness of beneficial insects has grown, I find that it is getting easier to farm. It has become my second nature to consider and provide a place for them to live, eat, and raise a family year round. This practice is not only the right thing to do for the future of all, but it totally impacts my business bottom line for the good.

Driving Green at the FAIR

MOTHER EARTH NEWS fairgoers could choose a vehicle from a fleet of Ford hybrid cars to test-drive on the rolling countryside outside Asheville, N.C.

Your Earth Day Guide to Lake Cleanup

While you should be doing good for the environment all throughout the year, Earth Day is the perfect time to take it the extra mile. Cleaning up a local lake or pond is a great way to give back to the community and the planet.

Who Will Draw Our House Plans?

After finding some basic online building plans, the next step to getting a future home built is to find a designer to draw the house plans.

Read MOTHER EARTH NEWS in Japanese!

The MOTHER EARTH NEWS team welcomed visitors from Japan, who have been translating the magazine into Japanese for subscribers.

Self-Directed Gardening Education

Winter is the best time to step back from your garden and learn something new. Do some research, participate in learning programs, and work on your garden notebook. When the opportunity arises next year, visit the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR.

Ford Brings a Charge to the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Ford Motor Company’s electrifying presence at the 2014 Pennsylvania MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR included sponsoring the event, giving test drives, and updating fairgoers about the latest news on electric and hybrid vehicle technology.

Come for the FAIR, Then Embark on an Ecotourism Adventure

Come early or spend a few days after the three days of the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR, held at the Seven Springs Mountain Resort in Pennsylvania this September 12 – 14, 2014. Less than 30 miles from Seven Springs Mountain Resort, there’s an ecotourism adventure to be had.

Lessons from the Mother Earth News Fair

At the Mother Earth News Fair in Puyallup, Wash, I listened to lecturers cover topics from re-newable energy, small-scale farming, green building, organic gardening, simple living, and citizen solidarity building. While I listened, I pondered ways to weave these powerful themes into our children's lives.

Subsistence Farming in Romania

While the grinding work of a Romanian subsistence farm isn’t anything that I would choose for myself, there are aspects of the life that are attractive. In particular, the practices that I think of as the circles of life — eating food one has grown oneself, saving seeds, feeding poultry with garden scraps, and then eating their eggs (or them), and preserving a fruit harvest to cement friendships with strangers.

Weather and Farmers Market Foods

August 3 to 9 is National Farmers Market Week! How does weather impact growth and harvest of fruits and vegetables? www.earthgauge.net/?p=36863

Delicious, Nutritious, Ice-Cold Watermelon Cooler

Stephanie Tourles, author and Seven Springs, Pa., FAIR Speaker, shares how to make a delicious, ice-cold watermelon cooler. Refresh after a day in the heat with this super easy and nutritious drink.

Community Gardens in Victoria, British Columbia

When traveling, consider checking out the community gardens in the area. You can meet local people who are passionate about gardening and learn about the climate and crops that may be different than yours.

Thomas Jefferson's Favorite Crop is Back in American Soil

One of the favorite events among attendees to the Puyallup MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR was investigative author Doug Fine’s Hemp Bound talk. Here are his thoughts on why hemp matters so much, a belief that was translated into a passionate and funny workshop.

Protect the Beach

Whether you live on the beach or 1000s of miles away, there are easy ways you can protect coastal water quality.

Water-Smart Gardening

Planting a water-smart garden with native plants can help you save water when temperatures heat up.

Hot Tips to Stay Cool

Memorial Day signifies the unofficial start of summer and onset of hot weather. Use these tips to stay cool.

Air Conditioning Check-Up

Spring is the perfect time to give your home cooling equipment a check-up before hot weather arrives.

Zero-Waste Events

Thoughts on managing an event with lots of people and having minimal or no trash.

National Arbor Day

National Arbor Day is April 25. Celebrate by learning about trees, volunteering or planting a tree at home!

A Pollen Explosion

A cold winter and late-season snow in some parts of the U.S. could mean a rough spring allergy season.

Build Structures Cheaply Using This Ancient Method

Houses take a lifetime to pay off these days, and even a prosaic shed, barn or coop requires a heavy investment of money, time, skilled labour and imported materials. For thousands of years, though, people around the world used an ancient technique to build homes and other structures quickly, using nothing but local material and simple, easily learned skills.

Fix a Leak

Chase down household leaks and fix them to save water and money during the Earth Gauge #FixALeak Week.

Guard Your Groundwater

Protect our water supplies during National Groundwater Awareness Week by saving water at home.

What Makes Wetlands Stink?

One of the most recognizable features of wetlands is their smell. What makes these areas so pungent?

Amazing View of Earth at Night (Video)

This mesmerizing video shows city lights, wildfires in Australia, and even gas flares in the Middle East, all photographed from a satellite high over our heads.

What Are Headwater Streams?

Headwater streams are small streams or tributaries that carry water from the upper reaches of a watershed to a river.

Rethink Everything

Every now and then we need to re-evaluate our thoughts, just as we re-evaluate our things. Learn about making cloth Christmas gift bags and find out how walking barefoot in the grass is good for you.

Audubon Christmas Bird Count

Participate in Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count to help scientists study winter bird populations: www.earthgauge.net/?p=33409

Eyes on Central Pennsylvania Wildlife

WTAJ has partnered with the National Environmental Education Foundation and Project Noah to help show wildlife and the impacts of weather on living things in Central Pennsylvania.

America Recycles Day

Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to power a laptop for 5 hours! America Recycles Day is Nov 15.

Lighten Up (and Save)

Fall is a great time to replace traditional light bulbs with energy-efficient bulbs. Save up to $50 per year.

Crossing the Spectrum

Every time I leave the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR I come home with a bag full of stuff that I have accumulated along the way. My youngest son typically tears into the bag, once exclaiming that my return from the FAIR is always “like Christmas.”

Fun at the Fair

It doesn’t matter how much you know already, there is always something to learn at the Mother Earth News Fair.

Remembering the First Earth Day

United Nations Climate Week invokes memories of first Earth Day and how far we have yet to go to clean up our environment.

Eco-Tourism in the Laurel Highlands: By Bike, by Boat and On Foot

For three days before the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR, held at the Seven Springs Mountain Resort, John D. Ivanko and his family rafted, biked, toured some of Frank Lloyd Wright-designed homes, and savored farm-to-table cuisine that blew us away at The Historic Stone House.

The New Earthineer

From the outset, Earthineer was built to support and promote sustainability and homesteading as a lifestyle choice. Every feature we have planned has that goal in mind. What we have now is the foundation that we'll build off of.

Back to School

Headed back to school? Protect air quality, save energy and recycle for a healthier, greener school year.

6 Steps to Making Your Home Greener

We all have the responsibility to do are best to preserve the Earth and the environment in any way we can. Some people take it to the extreme, but that isn't always necessary. There are many ways we can make simple changes in our lifestyles to contribute to saving what's most precious for our children and future generations.

Organic Materials Review Institute

At the Mother Earth News Fair, I always enjoy speaking with fellow farmers and gardeners about inputs, organic standards and sound practices in the field. At the OMRI booth, we always provide free OMRI Products Lists of approved input materials, to help you find the right fertilizer or livestock feed additive and keep your farm or garden truly organic .

Do It Yourself With the Wiser Living Video Series, Vol. 1

MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine comes to life in the recently released Wiser Living Video Series. Volume One of the Series features some of our most popular workshops from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIRS taught by members of the editorial team and expert community. Become more self-reliant in and around your home by tackling 19 projects ranging from keeping backyard chickens to making tinctures.

Wetland Water Sources

What makes a piece of land a wet-land? Not all wetlands are wet for the same reason.

From the Trees to the Seas

Plant life along small streams starts a food chain that stretches all the way to the ocean.

Find Safe Raw Milk

In our culture we are used to government regulations telling us what to do – can we talk on our cell phones while driving? Or, should I wear my seat belt? Or has this food been properly processed? Raw milk is your chance to embrace your rights and freedoms and do your research and ask the hard questions – you have no one else to rely on to do this for you.

Summer’s Sting

Buzz…sting…ouch! Why are yellow jackets more aggressive at this time of year?

Flowers - Food for the Soul

This garden is practically maintenance free as it produces some of the most beautiful and most beloved flowers. After you have tried it, you will wonder, why didn’t I start growing hardy annuals sooner? Don’t miss the opportunity to garden in the forgotten seasons.

Solar Double Cropping

On sunny days it delivers about a half a megawatt of electricity to the biodiesel plant, while providing strategic shade to plants below. Energy is produced above as farmers harvest below in a genuine double cropping scenario.

Turn Your Farm Venture Into a Business

Have you ever dreamed of taking your part-time homestead to a full-time salary? What's holding you back? Business books say most people are more afraid of success than failure.

Bike-Share Programs Across the World

Bike-share programs are now operated in more than 500 cities in 49 countries. Most cities are finding that bike sharing leads to better mobility and safer streets.

The "Stoven"

How we built a cob oven and rocket stove hybrid.

Earth Week Special From Worm's Way

Want to Save on Earth-Friendly Products? Check out Worm's Way's sale by clicking on the Earth Week banner at WormsWay.com and enjoy up to 20 percent off your purchases.

Earth Gauge Tip of The Week - National Severe Weather Preparedness Week

Are you ready for the kinds of severe weather that could impact the area where you live? National Severe Weather Preparedness Week takes place from Mar. 3-9, 2013. This is a great time for you and your family to “Be a Force of Nature” by learning the importance of planning for severe weather events and practicing how and where to take shelter before severe weather strikes.

Spotlight on Earth Stewardship: Eric Stevens

This will be an ongoing series, which pays homage to Eco-conscious individuals by sharing their stories of hope, inspiration, challenges and insight into making the earth a better place for generations to come.

Farmers in Training: A City Dweller Gets Lessons in Harvesting, Milking and the Meaning of Life

The place I call home these days is The FarmSchool, a fertile 180-acre strip of ridge top in Athol, where 15 student-farmers are spending a year learning the ins and outs of growing food, managing forests, and raising animals for meat. I arrived at the farm in October, just as the leaves were reaching their peak brilliance. The Farm School — which offers three-day programs for schoolchildren, a summer camp, a full-time middle school, and the apprenticeship program I’m in — takes us through all seasons of farming, weaving together class work and on-farm training.

Cooking at home…on vacation

Cooking meals on a vacation can be easy. Bring some essential items with you and enjoy homecooking, on vacation.

6 Tech-Savvy Ways to Home Energy Efficiency

If someone told you that you were losing money just by sitting in your home, you would probably want to do whatever you could to change that. Well the reality is that your home is using up energy regularly, and there is a huge chunk of that energy that you do not even need. Luckily, we live in a time when technology is constantly coming up with ways to fix problems such as these. Here are some of the ways that technology can help to save the environment, as well as your wallet.

Do Flu Vaccines Really Work?

Although the Centers for Disease Control has launched a vigorous nationwide public health campaign urging everyone, particularly elderly and vulnerable people, to get vaccinated against the flu, some researchers disagree with the message.

From Gardener to Farmdener

I’d like to introduce the words farmden and farmdener into the English language. I wonder if there are any other farmdeners out there. And just what is a farmden? It’s more than a garden, less than a farm. That’s my definition, but it also could be described as a site with more plants and/or land than one person can care for sanely. A gardener and garden gone wild, out of control.

Illegal Front Yard Vegetable Gardens: Des Moines Considers Home Garden Ban

Des Moines, Iowa, gardeners may soon find themselves in hot water with their City. A local resident recently took front yard veggie growers to task for what the resident feels to be unsightly lawn growth. Beets and berries, it seems, do not have the same aesthetic appeal as a green, freshly-mowed front lawn.

How We Transitioned from City to Country (And Why We Did So)

Many years ago, years before I moved to the country, I was what would be considered "a prepper." I saw disaster every time I turned on the TV, or read the news on the internet, or visited forums that talked about stockpiling beans and bullets. I panicked, thinking I could never have enough control for the sake of my family, never be "prepped" enough.

My Exotic Daily Life

While many of those visiting our Hostel are farmers and homesteaders themselves, some come from that “city culture” and seem to take their first hesitant steps outside of a flatly paved driveway when they arrive at our place. Wide eyes, a sense of adventure.

A New Blogger's Homesteading Journey Begins

Since her first house move, MOTHER EARTH NEWS blogger Cathie Ackroyd, has become so very conscious of the impact we humans have had and are having on our planet’s environment and hoped to find a place to settle that would allow us to gain an element of self-sufficiency in a relatively car-free community.

The Search for Rare, Heritage Apples

The past year was a rewarding one for apple discovery, because I potentially found the apple that started my apple search about sixteen years ago — the ‘Harper’s Seedling’ apple.

An Appalachian Alternative to Mountaintop Removal Coal Mines

Many criticize eliminating coal mining in West Virginia because of the amount of jobs the sector provides. A wind farm, however, would employ over 200 local residents during the two-year construction phase, and create 40-50 permanent maintenance jobs afterward. A wind farm would also allow the mountain to be used for other purposes, like sustainable forestry, mountain harvesting, and gathering of wild forest plants, creating additional jobs and the opportunity for stable income for locals.

Seed Catalogs: Waiting for Winter to End

Sorting through seed catalogs is one of the most entertaining tasks we have here at MOTHER EARTH NEWS. These garden seed catalogs come in handy when searching for just the right variety of heirloom veggies to grow, and they're fun to look at too!

The Astonishing Colors of Rainbow Indian Corn

This video slideshow reveals the sacred magic contained in the Native American corn that sustained many Indian tribes for thousands of years before professional plant breeders turned it into an industrial feedstock.

Making Clementine Candles

How to make candles you can really light from the peel of Clementine oranges. A wintertime craft...just oil and an orange peel!

Dipping Beeswax Candles

We dipped candles from our hive's beeswax to celebrate winter. Candlemaking is a nice seasonal craft. Here’s how we did it, plus some tips to get you started.

The Best-Loved Car in the World

I was gratified when, two weeks ago, Consumer Reports announced that the Chevy Volt was the best-loved car in the world among people who drive one – for the second year in a row. I have never loved a car like I love this one. And I have loved some cars.

Make Your Own Lotion Bars

Claire finds a recipe for hard lotion and makes molded lotion bars to give as Christmas presents.

Finding Christmas in Simple Things

In the hollows of the Blue Ridge Mountains, this true Christmas celebration was simple, inexpensive and rich with tradition.

Parks Get Big Support from Conservation Voters

Across the U.S., voters of all political leanings gave overwhelming approval in the 2012 presidential election to taxing themselves and spending money for new parks in their communities, The Trust for Public Land announced. Of the 57 measures on local and statewide ballots, 46 passed, an approval rate of 81%.

U.S. Government Approves 450 MW Offshore Wind Energy Lease

As part of the Obama Administration’s all-of-the-above strategy to expand safe and responsible domestic energy production, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced Nov. 7, 2012, a lease for commercial wind energy development 11 nautical miles off the coast of Delaware.

6 Common Mistakes Solar PV Installers Make

Comly Wilson, Associate with CleanEdison, a solar installation training provider, offers her tips to remedy 6 common mistakes solar PV installers make when setting up new photovoltaic systems.

Planning For Eating

Begin your garden planning with what,and particularly how much, you want to eat. Take a look at what you are eating now and go from there.

Introduction to Fermentation With 'SandorKraut'

Fermentation expert Sandor Katz (aka SandorKraut) gives a cultural and historical introduction to fermentation practices, including the nutritional benefits of homemade sauerkraut and other fermented foods.

Learning How to Garden at the FAIR

Our MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR last weekend was full of great presentations about all facets sustainable living, including on learning how to garden.

Eco-Quotations: Words of the Wise (Part IV)

Great Quotations: the 4th installment in a series. This post features 14 fabulous eco-quotations, from thinkers such as Wendell Berry, Rachel Carson, Thoreau, Edison, and others.

Puyallup Fair Ticket Giveaway

Still looking to score free tickets to the 2012 Puyallup Mother Earth News Fair? Here's your chance! Tell us what you want to see at the Fair no later than Friday, May 25, and you'll be entered for a chance to win a pair of tickets.

Uses of Diatomaceous Earth on the Homestead

For those of us who hate to use chemicals in our gardens, in our homes, or with our livestock and pets, diatomaceous earth may be a safe and efficient substitute. It may worm your animals, rid them of fleas and lice and even handle indoor pests.

The Zen of Painting

Christopher shares an experience of painting his family farmhouse, but when he used flat, not glossy paint, his uncle was not happy. How could the uncle have responded in a more productive manner?

Thank You To My Readers

How a non writer can with effort contribute in a small way. To read more on our life style go to www.brucecarolcabin.blogspot.com

What a Great Time to Be Alive!

Evidently when it comes to visualizing our future, a lot of people expect the worst and are inclined to leave it up to God. It is up to God, of course, but God gave us two eyes in the front of our heads to look forward and prepare for what’s to come.

Road Trip

The Gourmet Butcher's road trip to the Fair.

Make an Herbal Tincture

Learn how to make an herbal tincture with The Herb Companion team at the Mother Earth News Fair.

‘My First Farm Friends’ Coloring Contest!

This gift set of four farm-themed board books features illustrations that tell the story of a day in the life of each of four animals: chickens, goats, cows and pigs.

See y'all in Pennsylvania.

A brief preview of Cole's presentation at the Mother Earth Fair Sept 24/25 at Seven Springs, PA.

Calm Yourself with Skullcap

Skullcap is the best herb for calming nerves, according to Erin McIntosh at the Mother Earth News Fair in Puyallup.

Make Gardening Easier: Build Permanent Beds and Paths

MOTHER EARTH NEWS Associate Editor Shelley Stonebrook offers tips for building permanent garden beds and paths. Shelley presented her workshop “10 Great Ways to Make Gardening Easier” at the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR in Puyallup, Wash.