Mother Earth News Fair
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Ginger Beer Recipe Remix

Who knew that making a soda so delicious was so darn easy?! This office experiment is our most rewarding yet. I mean, Marlin is cool with his aquaponic system and all, but I definitely don’t want to drink fish water. (See "Office Trials: Aquaponic System.") Our ginger beer is so refreshing, surprisingly effervescent and just plain awesome! So you’d like to know how to make it yourself, right? Well, I will gladly share the steps and recipe with you.

It all started with a little ginger bug. I wanted to make the ginger beer from scratch which means I had to make the yeast or “live” part of the soda. In researching the ginger bug I came across an article from 1981 by none other than MOTHER EARTH NEWS about how to create your own! Always a trusty source.

The following recipe and instructions were loosely based around the article, but I made a few changes to make it my own. You can do the same!

Start a Ginger Bug


  • 1-1/2 cups filtered water
  • 3 teaspoons finely chopped ginger root
  • 3 teaspoons organic raw sugar
  • 1 wide-mouth quart jar
  • Cheesecloth or coffee filter
  • Rubberband


Starting your ginger bug is ridiculously easy. Combine filtered water, finely chopped ginger root and organic sugar together in the quart jar. Stir until sugar has dissolved. Place cheesecloth or coffee filter over top of jar and secure with rubber band around mouth of jar. This allows the ginger bug to breathe, but keeps out any unwanted debris or creatures!

Daily, for about 7 to 8 days, add 2 teaspoons sugar and 2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger root and stir. You’ll want to agitate the ginger bug twice a day by stirring to be sure it stays activated. I made the mistake of letting it sit for a day or two without any stirring and it went dormant. It can easily be brought back to life with the sugar, ginger and a little agitation.

You’ll know your ginger bug is ready to use when it starts to fizz upon adding ingredients and stirring. It should take 7 to 8 days, but depending on temperature and other variables, it may take a bit longer. Because I let it go dormant, it took our ginger bug about two weeks to be ready for the ginger beer process.

How to Make Ginger Beer


  • Ginger bug
  • 3 lemons
  • 3/4 cup organic raw sugar
  • 1/2 gallon filtered water
  • 1/2 gallon container


After your ginger bug is all fizzed and ready to go, you’ll need a larger container to store your ginger beer in. In my case, there is a brewery located conveniently down the road from the office so I bought a growler to make my ginger beer in. It is a glass container and I wouldn’t use any other material for fear of leaching, but you must be very, very careful with glass. When the pressure of the beer builds up it creates perfect conditions for the glass container to blow up! You must release the pressure daily once the beer has been concocted.

To start, strain the ginger bug through the cheesecloth (I found this worked much better as a strainer than a coffee filter) into the container. Be sure to keep the solid parts of your ginger bug! I’ll let you know what to do with it in the following section. Next, juice the three lemons through the cheesecloth to prevent the seeds from going into the mix. Finally add the sugar and fill the rest of the container with filtered water. Be sure to stop about an inch from the top to allow fermenting to occur. Give it a shake, seal the top down tight and put it on the shelf. This should take about 4 to 7 days to be ready! 

As I said before, if you use a glass container be sure to release the pressure daily by opening the lid. You don’t want your bottle to bust everywhere. That would be one sticky mess! After 4 days here, we opened the bottle and it fizzed violently like a shaken soda bottle. It was obviously ready for consumption! Once you get this type of reaction from your ginger beer you’ll place it in the refrigerator to stop any fermentation. Once it’s cooled, it is ready to drink!

Back to the Bug


  • 1-1/2 cups filtered water
  • 2 teaspoons organic raw sugar
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger root


To keep your ginger bug alive be sure to keep the solid portion of your ginger bug after straining. Add filtered water, sugar and ginger root back into your quart jar and repeat the steps for keeping the ginger bug. The cycle will keep going as long as you keep your ginger bug active! 

To conclude, I had a great time with this process. It really is a fun soda to make and so easy. Every step was done at my desk… It doesn’t take a rocket scientist (trust me, I’m no chemist either!). If I can make it so can you and it takes no time at all. Over the course of the past three weeks I’ve grown oddly attached to my little ginger bug, and I’m sure to stir it twice a day to keep it kickin’. We’ll be making another batch of ginger beer after the holidays. It may become an office staple.

Stay tuned to the blog! We’ll be posting about our homemade (or office-made) apple cider vinegar, aquaponic system and we’ll keep you updated on our hydroponic system!

Check out the FAIR website and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for fun how-tos and FAIR updates! 

5 Questions for Shawna Coronado


What's the one thing that's a must in this world?

Without a doubt the one thing that's "a must" in this world is having relationships with our friends and family. Connecting with human beings is known to extend our lives and fill our soul with happiness. Sharing and caring with our loved ones is what life is all about.

What is the best purchase you've ever made?

Organic Mechanics Soil - it is an amazing soil filled with worm castings and one of my favorite things to add to my garden.

What brings you the greatest joy?

Food and family combined. I love spending time with my family over a good meal.

What's your favorite smell in the whole world?

Rose. It brings back memories of my grandmother.

What is the best advice you've ever received?

When I first began creating videos I struggled to have the videos look "perfect" every time. Then a social media expert I knew told me that I needed to "get over myself" and just get out there and do it no matter if I had messed up hair or clutter in the images. This advice applied to all aspects of my writing, photography, and media business, so I've jumped in and taken his advice to heart. Get over yourself and just enjoy the activity, job, or fun that you're having in order to enjoy life more.

Shawna Coronado is an author, columnist, blogger, photographer, media host, and brand ambassador in the realms of green lifestyle living, organic gardening, and low-cost cuisine who campaigns for social good. She is also an on-camera spokesperson and social media personality with more than 375,000 followers on her various social media venues and she maintains a YouTube channel with more than a million views. In 2015 she co-hosted the radio show “The Good Green Home Show” and appeared bi-weekly at her home garden as the FOX News Chicago “Gardening with Good Day” organic gardening expert. Coronado’s garden and eco-adventures have been featured in many media venues, including PBS television. Along with her green lifestyle initiatives, Coronado is concerned about promoting and teaching healthy living. She was diagnosed with severe spinal osteoarthritis, news that led her to change her lifestyle, lose weight, and consume a mostly anti-inflammatory diet. She educates audiences about beneficial diet, food, and health practices through her organic living media. She dreams that this will enable more people who suffer from similar conditions to be active. Her successful organic living photographs and stories have been shown both online and off in many international home and garden magazines and multiple books. For more on Shawna check out!

Points of Interest on the Salatin Family Farm


Although the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR team is currently “hunkered down” in response to stay-at-home guidelines related to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are still planning to host the FAIR at Polyface Farm in July! One of the things we are most excited about for this unique event is the opportunity to highlight in-person several special facets that are critical to the successful operation of the farm. We are calling these areas “Points of Interest.” They will be on display ongoing throughout the two days, and we will schedule special gathering times around each one so that a Polyface representative can discuss how they are important to the fabric of the entire operation.

Points of Interest

Management-Intensive Grazing
At Polyface Farm, farmers move cows to a new paddock every day. That requires portable water, portable fencing, and portable shade. Those are the tools of the trade. The art is knowing how much area to allot, computing cow days, and giving adequate rest periods. On most farms, moving cows is a bit of an ordeal; at Polyface, a simple call brings them running. The result of this system is increased fertility, increased production, and a vegetative mosaic that stimulates pollinators and wildlife.

Hoop Houses
Most hoop houses are built for vegetable production, but at Polyface, hoop houses provide comfortable winter housing for poultry, rabbits, and pigs. The other 250 days of the year, the hoop houses shelter vegetables or — as will be obvious during the FAIR — serve as great staging areas for events and seminars! Built for both plants and animals, these dual-purpose structures are relatively cheap housing alternatives that can generate cash year-round from widely different enterprises. Plus, diverse enterprises help reduce pathogens and encourage cash flow throughout the year.

Starting chicks is both science and art. In both stationary and portable brooders, you’ll see techniques for comfort and hygiene to get both chickens and turkeys off to a good start. Bedding, temperature, water, grit, feed, and ventilation all come into play with these simple home-built structures. Anyone who sees these functional brooders will realize that scaling up is doable.

The ‘Raken’ House
Multifunctional infrastructure is a theme across the Polyface landscape. This combination rabbit-chicken (“raken”) house uses the permaculture stacking concept to enjoy cubic footage rather than just linear floor footage. Rabbits in hutches at eye level and chickens on the floor provide symbiosis. Chickens aerate the rabbit bedding to stimulate composting, and rabbits enjoy an ammonia-free living environment. In winter, pigs practice deep tillage and ready the structure for spring cleaning.

Carbon Shed 
Polyface integrates forest and open land as the foundation of its carbon economy. A commercial-scale wood chipper turns crooked and poorly formed trees into chips that form the basis of animal bedding during winter housing. This deep bedding offers a carbon-rich absorbant habitat for good bugs to keep bad bugs in check. Stockpiling carbon where it can dry down ensures that its pores can uptake the urine and nitrogen in livestock waste. According to Joel, “If all the money spent on chemical fertilizer were repurposed to forest management, we would have a brand new sacred industry to honor folks who enjoy working outside, and we would have higher organic-matter soils.”

Millennium Feathernet
Using an “X-truss” skid structure and Premier poultry net, this 1,000-layer portable setup offers truly pastured eggs at scale. The quarter-acre netting oval leapfrogs across the field in three-day moves. A guard goose protects the chickens from aerial predators. These chickens don’t have to be closed up at night, and their perimeter fencing keeps them controlled. This land-intensive system is good for smaller areas where total free range can result in damage or unhappy neighbors. The skid structure is wind-resistant, never slides down a hill, and can’t get a flat tire — all positives. The Millennium Feathernet is located in the south field (outside of the FAIR footprint), and attendees can view it on the way from or to their vehicles.

One of Polyface's most iconic innovations, this portable henhouse follows the cows and provides sanitation in the pasture. The chickens scratch through cow patties, spreading them and eating out fly larvae. The hens also pick up newly exposed crickets and grasshoppers, turning all this abundance into top-grade pastured eggs. Attendees can stop by the Eggmobile to learn how to train hens to go in at night, and to hear about moving logistics and densities. This model is land-extensive and not recommended for acreages under 50.

Pastured Pigs
A silvopasture featuring pastured pigs highlights all the components necessary for a successful operation. Land requirements, moving regimens, resting protocols, fencing, and water all need proper attention. Many people struggle to control pigs with electric fence; at this stop, attendees can see how Polyface handles hundreds of pigs a year, even in remote pastures. Since pigs can’t see very well, a highly visible fence is a key to success.


Poultry Processing
Under Public Law 90-492, the Polyface open-air poultry abattoir is and has been a keystone of the farm's success. While the current structure is more sophisticated than the first one, it still shows the simplicity of design that makes this a doable enterprise. The Polyface setup, with a well-trained eight-person crew, can run 160 to 200 birds per hour. Two people can do 40 to 50 birds per hour.

Egg Washer
Polyface currently handles about 200 dozen eggs per day. This is too many for the little $200 bucket-style washing units, and too small for $50,000 commercial units. A local farmer in the Shenandoah Valley spent several years designing and building a midsized washing machine for operations in the 100 to 500 dozen per day production category. It has many unique features, not least of which is a U-turn so it occupies a small footprint; the same person who starts the eggs into the unit can retrieve them from the same spot. Ingenious.

Andrew Salatin, Joel's grandson, has been keeping a small flock of sheep for several years. This flock of about 50 ewes and lambs has not been wormed for five years; they’re hair sheep and crossed between Katahdin, Dorper, and St. Croix. Andrew moves the sheep frequently, and Polyface is experimenting with numerous ways to incorporate them into the greater farming operation. These sheep are as close to goats as sheep can get, offering excellent weed-control opportunities.

Travis Salatin, Joel's grandson, has been raising Khaki Campbell ducks for several years. This flock of around 200 provides him with a steady egg income from folks (especially pastry chefs) who appreciate the extra richness. Ducks eat far more grass than chickens, which makes for deep-orange yolks and thick, creamy whites.

Pullets for Backyard Flocks
Lauryn Salatin, Joel's granddaughter, raises, hatches, and sells exotic pullets for folks who want small backyard flocks. Although she’s only 12, she can address fertility, mini-scale incubation, and brooding. She can hold her own in the chick department.

Pastured Broilers

If one things bears the Polyface signature the most, it’s probably the pastured broiler enterprise. The subject of Joel’s first book in 1991, Pastured Poultry Profits, this enterprise is still the heartbeat of the farm. Attendees can see the simple (some would say crude) portable shelters up close. Polyface staff ill move some during the FAIR so attendees can see the logistics and discuss density, water, feed, and other elements of this enterprise. The single biggest error people make when duplicating this proven model is to build shelters too complicated and too heavy. A demonstration will prove the efficiency of this setup, perfected over five decades.

For more information and to register for passes for the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR at Polyface Farm, please visit here

Salatin Family Models Non-Industrial Farming

With the 2019 FAIR season now in the rearview mirror, we are full speed ahead on 2020 planning. That includes the first EVER on-farm FAIR experience! Advance passes for the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR at Polyface Farm will be available for purchase on the FAIR website later this month, and they will include “earlybird” discounts. Check back the week of Nov. 11.

Further down in this posting are a few images featuring some of the “points of interest” that attendees will experience at this one-of-a-kind event along with captions written by Joel Salatin. First, here is a little history on the farm:

In 1961, William and Lucille Salatin moved their young family to Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, purchasing the most worn-out, eroded, abused farm in the area near Staunton. Using nature as a pattern, they and their children began the healing and innovation that now supports three generations.

Disregarding conventional wisdom, the Salatins planted trees, built huge compost piles, dug ponds, moved cows daily with portable electric fencing, and invented portable sheltering systems to produce all their animals on perennial prairie polycultures.

Today the farm arguably represents America’s premier non-industrial food production oasis. Believing that the Creator’s design is still the best pattern for the biological world, the Salatin family invites like-minded folks to join in the farm’s mission: to develop emotionally, economically, environmentally enhancing agricultural enterprises and facilitate their duplication throughout the world.


Contented salad bar beef cows lounge under a portable shade mobile at Polyface on a hot summer day. The Eggmobiles follow closely behind, enabling laying hens to scatter cow patties and eat fly larvae.  Biological sanitation duplicating nature's bird-herbivore symbiosis is a foundation to health and hygiene.  The guard goose watches for aerial predators.  Polyface models mobile and scalable infrastructure for pasture-based livestock systems throughout its production.


On-farm processing at Polyface offers environmental bio-security (chickens don’t scatter feathers all over public roads) and value-added opportunity in pastured broilers. With simple, low-cost processing infrastructure available today, highly efficient small-scale farmstead production is now possible and profitable. Benchmark throughput is 20 birds per person per hour.


Mobile boiler shelters offer pastured birds a new salad bar, new lounge area, and new bugs every morning.  Vacated squares behind the shelters quickly recuperate in newly fertilized forages. At Polyface benchmark: one person can move 4,500 broilers an hour without any more equipment than a small, customized hand dolly. To date, the farm has never lost a broiler to a hawk.  This model facilitates debt-free embryonic entry and subsequent scaling.


Pastured turkeys enjoy expansive paddocks defined and protected by electrified netting.  The “Gobbledygo” offers mobile shelter and roosts for flocks of 400 birds. Moved every couple of days, the turkeys stack an additional income to broilers, cattle, and laying hens. The multi-enterprises substantially increase income per acre and offer pathogen control through biological diversity.

2020 Mother Earth News Fair at Polyface Farm update!

Sawmill and dining pavilion.

The Mother Earth News Fair team could not be more thrilled to collaborate with the Salatin family on this one-of-a-kind adventure! The FAIR at Polyface Farm will take place July 17-18, 2020. (That’s a Friday/Saturday, by the way.)


On Tuesday, July 9, I had the opportunity to visit Polyface with my colleague and senior producer Robert Riley for a day of strategic planning along with some delicious food and kinship. The day was very productive! The team spent the morning walking the grounds, bouncing ideas around on how we would handle what we anticipate to be a substantial crowd. We connected our experience managing large events with their intimate knowledge of the land, roads, and structures around the farm. By lunch time we had an inspiring, collective vision on what this amazing event would look like.

The legendary egg washing machine.

After lunch, the discussion moved to programming. Ever since our first conversations with Joel and Daniel, we all recognized that hosting the Mother Earth News Fair on a working, living farm would present some unique opportunities to highlight some of the elements and procedures that are critical to the operation (many invented by them and now replicated at farms around the world). Sitting around the kitchen table, we talked about this opportunity to create a mix of traditional “staged” workshop areas combined with “Points of Interest” around the farm. Attendees can expect NEW workshops from both first time and returning speaker-authors as well as unique interactions with active farm operations helmed by Polyface’s legion of interns and apprentices. This is your chance to experience live chicken processing, learn about the carbon shed, view egg mobiles, and discover Polyface Farm exclusives like Rakens (rabbit/chicken hutches) and the “Millennium Feathernet”—Plus so much more!


We will be posting periodic updates about this event here on this blog. Advance registration will be open in October. If you are interested in exhibiting, shoot us an e-mail at If you have ideas about the programming for this unique event or things you would like to see, we want to know! Take a quick three-question survey, which will also register you to win a pair of passes!

Talking though the wagon/shuttle drop off location.

5 Questions for Dawn Combs

Dawn Combs

What's the one thing that's a must in this world?

Common sense.

What is the best purchase you've ever made?

My (my husband disagrees and says "his") Ford F-150.

What brings you the greatest joy?

Gardening with my family.

What's your favorite smell in the whole world?

The woods just after a spring rain.

What is the best advice you've ever received?

Don't borrow trouble.

Dawn Combs is an ethnobotanist with more than 20 years of experience in her field. She is the owner of the herbal health farm Mockingbird Meadows, is a contributor for Mother Earth Living, and the author of Heal Local: 20 Essential Herbs for Do-it-Yourself Home Health Care Conceiving Healthy Babies: An Herbal Guide to Support Preconception, Pregnancy, and Lactation. Books by This Speaker:Conceiving Healthy Babies. For more on Dawn check out!

5 Questions for Rosemary Gladstar

Rosemary Gladstar

What's the one thing that's a must in this world?

Love and kindness (it's really one!)

What is the best purchase you've ever made?

Seeds, because they multiply and grow on forever.

What brings you the greatest joy?

Being in nature. And friends and family.  Being with friends and family in nature is the best of all.

What's your favorite smell in the whole world?

The smell of the woodlands in the fall, or maybe even more, a garden on a summer afternoon.

What is the best advice you've ever received?

I'd have to think about this...I've received some very good advice throughout my life....

Rosemary Gladstar has been studying and teaching about herbs for more than 40 years. She is an educator, activist and entrepreneur, serving as director of the Sage Mountain Herbal Retreat Center, the International Herb Symposium, and the Women’s Herbal Conference. Gladstar is the founding president of United Plant Savers, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation and preservation of native American herbs. She was the original formulator for Traditional Medicinal Herbal teas and currently leads herbal educational adventures around the world. She is the author of many books, including Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health and Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide, as well as Herbal Healing for Women. She lives in East Barre, Vermont. For more on Rosemary check out!

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