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

5 Questions for Ananta Ripa Ajmera

Ananta Ripa

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

Compassion. There is an increasing body of academic research proving the importance of compassion for mental health. Ayurvedic sages, however, have always known this. Ayurveda is defined as a science of healthy living that teaches you how to distinguish between actions that bring you joy and those that bring your sorrow (as our mental states greatly impact our physical wellbeing). And the sages proclaimed happiness-giving actions to be those that benefit you and society. In other words, individual health has always been equated with having a compassionate attitude in all that we do by Ayurveda.

What is the best purchase you've ever made?

Marigold flowers. I love having them in a planter on my balcony, and have developed a deep relationship with them. As with many things in the Ayurveda tradition, there's a spiritual, psychological, and practical component to their healing potential. Marigolds are the color of the sun. Because the sun is considered a symbol of the bright, shining spirit within you, marigolds are the color of spirituality in India. They represent inner spiritual fire. I love making marigold garlands to honor the spiritual dimension of my teachers and ancestors. At a psychological level, marigolds imbue you with a quality known as Sattva, or clarity, optimism and cheerfulness. They are tremendously helpful to smell anytime you experience grief. My teacher shared how she had received a marigold garland from her own teacher the day her mother died, and how wearing it in the following days helped her to cope with grief during childhood. I have also experienced the healing power of marigolds when experiencing sadness. At a practical level, marigolds are a medicine for all of your five senses. They are a truly amazing gift from Mother Nature.

What brings you the greatest joy?

Sharing the healing power of Ayurveda, the world's oldest healing system, with people who've never heard of it before. Ayurveda has changed my life in countless ways, helping me overcome years of eating disorders, insomnia, anxiety, stress, digestive disturbances, and so much more that I could not find solutions for anywhere else I searched (and believe me, I looked far and wide!). Today, nothing gives me more joy than sharing what I have been blessed to learn from my teacher, Acharya Shunya, with all those seeking ways to take health into your own hands.

What's your favorite smell in the whole world?

The scent of jasmine flowers. I love going outside and smelling jasmine flowers. In Ayurveda, flowers are connected with the earth element. When you smell beautiful flowers like jasmine, it immediately grounds you and imparts a deeper sense of stability. I also find that simply smelling jasmine flowers is one of the best ways to immediately come back to being fully present in the moment whenever my mind starts to wander into the past or future. As the gift of living unfolds here and now.

What is the best advice you've ever received?

Give from a place where you feel full. I used to give a lot when I felt empty inside. I sought fulfillment from the outer world, which I quickly learned couldn't give me the deep fulfillment that ultimately comes from cultivating a relationship with my own higher Self. When I gave while feeling empty, I often felt even more empty and depleted afterward. I was deeply affected when my teacher advised to "give when you feel full." To me, this means regularly devoting myself to activities that give me a sense of nourishment, including all the 108 simple Ayurvedic practices I have introduced in my new book, The Ayurveda Way. Giving from a place of inner fullness means being able to give from a space where I feel completely satisfied - and don't need anything in return. Not even a thank-you. I find that giving from fullness allows abundance to multiply and grow in beautiful, often unexpected ways in my life.

Ananta Ripa Ajmera is an ayurveda practitioner and yoga instructor who studied with Acharya Shunya, an eminent traditional Vedic teacher whose lineage stems back to ancient India. She has taught ayurveda and yoga at Stanford University, Stanford Health Care, California Probation Departments, ABC News, and leading business conferences. Her writing has been popular on MindBodyGreen, Elephant Journal, and Huffington Post. For more on Ananta check out!

5 Questions for Jill Nussinow

Jill Nussinow

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


What is the best purchase you've ever made?

The BioMat.

What brings you the greatest joy?

Sharing what I know with others and then watching them succeed.

What's your favorite smell in the whole world?


What is the best advice you've ever received?

My aunt told me that being rich doesn't have to do with money, that it's all about the love that you have and share.

Jill Nussinow (the "Veggie Queen") is a registered dietitian and culinary educator who has been teaching plant-based, whole foods cooking for almost 30 years at Santa Rosa Junior College and elsewhere throughout the United States and beyond. She is the author of four cookbooks: Vegan Under Pressure, The New Fast Food: The Veggie Queen Pressure Cooks Whole Food Meals in Less Than 30 Minutes, Nutrition CHAMPS: The Veggie Queen’s Guide to Eating and Cooking for Optimum Health, Happiness, Energy and Vitality and The Veggie Queen: Vegetables Get the Royal Treatment. She also stars in the DVDs Pressure Cooking, a Fresh Look: Delicious Dishes in Minutes and Creative Low-fat Vegan Cuisine. Nussinow is a fellow of The Leadership Institute for Ecology and the Economy. She frequents local farmers markets, mushroom hunting and teaching fermentation classes. She has taught thousands of people how to successfully pressure cook over the past 20 years. Her goal is to see everyone leading a healthy, happy life through better eating and cooking. She loves to share the passion and joy of eating plants that will help save the planet. Her website is For more on Jill check out!

5 Questions for Bob Moore

Bob Moore

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

Get up 20 minutes earlier and cook some good, nourishing oatmeal!

What is the best purchase you've ever made?

My first flour mill that I found in an old mill in Dufur, OR. This was the beginning of Bob's Red Mill.

What brings you the greatest joy?

A good piano and the opportunity to play it!

What's your favorite smell in the whole world?

The delightful sea air as one drives over the hill into Astoria, OR. Another one - the smell of the inside of a brand new car!

What is the best advice you've ever received?

My father said, "When a string is in a knot, patience will untie it. Patience will do many things...did you ever try it?"

Bob Moore, the founder, president, and CEO of Bob's Red Mill Natural Foods, produces whole-grain foods for every meal of the day using unique slow-turning, cool-grinding millstones to preserve all the nutrients in the grains. A humble beginning in Redding, California, 43 years ago has grown into a company now located in Milwaukie, Oregon, with 500,000 square feet of manufacturing facility and 400 employee-owners dedicated to serving customers. Bob's Red Mill products can be found on store shelves all across the United States and Canada, as well as in more than 80 countries around the world. For more on Bob check out!

5 Questions for Brittany Nickerson

Brittany Nickerson

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

Trust.  When we trust ourselves we are more confidant, self-assured and more fulfilled by our lives.  When we trust others we are more enriched by our relationships.  Trust can also serve as a source of motivation.  If we trust that things can get better we are more likely to work to make change - whether that is on the level of the political, social, economic, environmental, or interpersonal - trust and belief makes our efforts feel worth while.  From the perspective of holistic wellness, trusting our bodies is a key aspect of health.  If we trust that our body is capable of being healthy when we give it the right tools/building blocks, it creates a positive association that is healing, it also motivates us to want to care for our body - it is a reciprocal relationship.

What is the best purchase you've ever made?

My home is by far and away the best thing I have ever purchased!  I suppose you could say it was the hardest thing to purchase - it was a big decision and a big commitment.  It nourishes my family and my work each day and we work hard to nourish it back - tending the gardens and doing our best to serve as respectful stewards of the land.

What brings you the greatest joy?

Looking out my window right now, the garden is in full bloom - I can see the whole arc of colors from reds and oranges, to fuchsias, white and of course green.  Plants, wild and cultivated, and the privilege to work with them and teach others about them brings me so much joy!

What's your favorite smell in the whole world?

My 5 month old daughter, Ida.  It might be the hormones, but she smells amazing!

What is the best advice you've ever received?

Follow your heart, do what you love.

Brittany Wood Nickerson is the author of Recipes from the Herbalist's Kitchen. She has blended her training in herbal medicine into her personal and professional cooking for more than 10 years. She is an herbalist and the owner of Thyme Herbal, where she offers herbal apprenticeship programs, classes in herbal cooking, and private herbal consultations. Nickerson is an active guest speaker and teacher at conferences and events throughout the Northeast. She lives in Conway, Massachusetts. For more on Brittany check out!

Let’s All Go to the Mother Earth News Fair

Mother Earth News Fair WOrkshop 

Have you ever attended a Mother Earth News Fair? This sustainability and self-reliance event has been a must-do on my calendar ever since I first learned about it back in 2013, not long after I hit my personal retirement button. My husband and I thought a trip to the Mother Earth News Fair would be a fantastic way to re-energize — just the right thing for two old, would-be hippies who wanted to get back to basics.

Not that the Fair’s attendees are hippies. The folks who fill the workshops and exhibit halls fill a broad spectrum: young, old, rich, modest-of-means, hip, not so hip. They come for different reasons. I’m betting they all leave with new purpose and enthusiasm.

Finding Passion in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Beyond

We headed to the Mother Earth News Fair mothership in Seven Springs, Pennsylvania, for what became a great new passion for gardening and preserving our harvest. We had tried our hands at gardening years before, but we needed some remedial education. The Fair turned out to be just what we needed. It was the perfect place to renew our enthusiasm for modern homesteading, too.

I can’t begin to describe how excited we were to discover a Fair was planned for the next spring in nearby Asheville, NC. We crossed our fingers that enough like-minded people would show up to convince organizers to keep it going. We needn’t have worried: Like the initial Pennsylvania Fair, the one in Asheville far exceeded the planners’ expectations. We’ve attended every single one.

Fair venues keep expanding; each year for the last several years, the Fair has added a new location to its offerings. This year, Fairs are happening in Vermont, Oregon, Texas, and Kansas, as well as Pennsylvania and North Carolina. Much more accessible to back-to-the-landers or just plain folks who want to live more intentionally.

A Sample of Lessons Learned at the Fair

Here’s a tiny sampling of what I’ve learned at these events. From great garlic guru Ira Wallace, I learned all about growing garlic. Haven’t had store bought since. Lisa Kivirist and John Ivanko reinforced the importance of prioritizing values when you’re striving to achieve an important goal by sharing their retreat from the corporate world to a simpler, saner lifestyle.

Smart, sassy Sherri Brooks Vinton sprinkled pizzazz into canning as only she can do. When the holidays came, we bought a box of grapefruit from our local Rotary Club to whip up some jars of her grapefruit in lavender syrup for gifts. Yum!

Niki Jabbour introduced me to all kinds of new vegetables and extolled the virtues of year-round gardening. If she could do it way up there in Nova Scotia, surely I could in North Carolina. Tar Heel Craig LeHoullier provided great tips for growing happy, healthy heirloom tomatoes, always a tricky business up here on my mountain.

Mother Earth News columnist Barbara Pleasant and intensive farmer Jean-Martin Fortier added even more gardening insights from composting to successful small-scale market gardening. Ecological landscape designer Jessi Bloom proved that we can have our beautiful landscape and eat it, too. How cool is that?

Well, you get the idea. At the Mother Earth News Fair, you can find workshops on things like foraging; wind, solar, and other alternative energies; raising, butchering, and processing animals; herbal remedies; mushroom growing; home wine-making, liquor distilling, and beer-brewing (legally, of course); marketing your small farm or home-based business; ethical farming practices; cheesemaking; bee keeping; fermentation; and so much more. Some presenters regularly make return appearances (fun for groupies like me), but you can always count on new speakers and topics, too.

There’s even a series of workshops for kids (and the whole weekend is free for the under-eighteen crowd). Exhibits and demonstrations abound. And I dare not forget to mention the many excellent books that are available — we always bring home an armload.

Find Your Inspiration and Community

It’s hard to pick one thing about the Fair that’s better than all the rest, but affordability has to be right up there. A visit to any of the Mother Earth News Fairs is the most reasonably priced way you could find to spend a weekend. An advance two-day ticket costs a mere $20 ($30 at the gate). The same money gets you three days at the premier Pennsylvania Fair — it’s huge!

We’re thinking about going back to that one this year, if only for the extra day’s worth of workshops — we don’t want to miss out on anything. This go-round, I’m particularly interested in learning more about tiny homes, farmers of color, and herbalism. Oh, who am I kidding? I’m interested in most all of them.

What else is there to say about these tip-filled, expert-laden events? I can tell you one thing, for sure: Whichever one is nearest you, it’s the perfect way to recharge your sustainability batteries.

Carole Coates is a gardener and food preservationist, family archivist, essayist, poet, photographer, modern homesteader. You can also find Carole at Living On the Diagonal, where she blogs about her take on life, including modern homesteading, gardening lore and how-to, food preparation and preservation, as well random thoughts and reflections, personal essays, poetry, and photography.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

5 Questions for Gianaclis Caldwell

Gianaclis Caldwell

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

A must, or a must see? A must see is Crater Lake National Park.

What is the best purchase you've ever made?

GEA Top flow milk inflations.

What brings you the greatest joy?

Interacting with animals.

What's your favorite smell in the whole world?

Rainfall after a dry spell.

What is the best advice you've ever received?

Do no harm.

Gianaclis Caldwell is the author of four books on cheesemaking and small dairying, including the award-winning Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking. Along with her husband, she milks goats and makes cheese at Pholia Farm Creamery in the south of Oregon. For more on Gianaclis check out!

Vermont Welcomes MOTHER EARTH NEWS!

FAIR bookstore

For years I’ve read MOTHER EARTH NEWS and glanced with interest at the schedule of FAIRS – from Topeka to Texas – and sadly decided that none of the FAIRS were in a reasonable driving distance for this New Englander with kids and a full-time job.  Imagine my surprise to see an announcement that MOTHER EARTH NEWS was coming to Vermont!  I quickly arranged for a babysitter, secured our tickets, and downloaded the schedule to make a plan of action. 

My husband and I had 3 hours to spend at the FAIR, so we decided on a “divide and conquer” approach with a meeting place at the food (because you always need food).  We noted the vendors we’d like to check out and set out to glean as much knowledge as we could in our limited visit.

As part-time homesteaders, we are focused on raising vegetables and fruit and have not yet ventured into livestock so we honed in on gardening and propagation workshops and were not disappointed with the results.  We realized when we arrived that we had forgotten to bring notebooks, so I filled my event program with margin notes and my husband was impressed with himself for discovering the notetaking app on his phone (why didn’t I think of that?). 

Here is a small taste of the takeaways we gleaned in just a few short hours at the FAIR:

1. Some elderberry plants will fully regrow one season after another even if you cut them down to the ground in the winter, and certain varieties are easier when it comes to bird control because the berries flop down instead of growing up like an umbrella.  Thank you to Terry Durham of River Hills Harvest for the great workshop on Growing Elderberry for Heath and Harvest – and for our two Ranch Elderberry plants that went immediately into our collection!
2. Rabbits do not like the smell of Spicy Globe Basil.  You can plant it as a border around your garden to encourage them to go elsewhere for tasty nibbles.  Thanks to Shawna Coronado for her illuminating talk on Secret Organic Gardening Hacks that will Blow Your Mind!  Having already lost a whole bunch of little bean plants, were happy to see this basil variety available at the gardening center we went to later that day!
3. You don’t have to swing an ax around kids, or risk hitting your shin instead of the small log you’re trying to split into kindling.  Don’t tell my husband, but he’s getting a Smart Splitter for Father’s Day!
4. The Vermont Evaporator Company is taking orders for its fall supply of The Sapling – a nicely made family-friendly backyard evaporator that can also double as – wait for it – a grill, and now a smoker!  We haven’t started boiling at our house yet, but when they showed my husband the grill and started talking about the set up for smoking I could feel him starting to think, “You know, maybe it is about time we start tapping that sugarbush.

I could go on and on about the lessons learned – from fertilizer options to home health to winter hardy vegetables, buthere’s the real takeaway: there are so many people out there working to live sustainably and to help others to do so.  So much so that they’re offering their knowledge, services, and products at fair (or free) prices to others in the homesteading and farming community just so that we can all benefit from each other’s discoveries.  I have never been more convinced that “it takes a village” to live sustainably and that we all benefit from being a part of this extended MOTHER EARTH NEWS community.

See you at the FAIR!

Carrie Williams Howe is the Executive Director of an educational nonprofit by day, and parent and aspiring homesteader by night and on weekends. She lives in Williston, Vermont, with her husband, two young children, and a rambunctious border collie. Carrie has a PhD in educational leadership and is passionate about being an authentic, participatory leader in various settings. She is a contributing editor at Parent Co Magazine. Connect with Carrie on The Happy Hive Facebook page. Read all of Carrie’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

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