Adirondack Rural Skills Festival: Shining Example of Homesteading Month Event

| 10/25/2012 3:24:00 PM

Plowing with draft horsesBrett McLeod, professor and coach at Paul Smith’s College, sent us an article (below) from the Adirondack Daily Enterprise that covered the Homesteading Education Month event hosted by his college. The homesteading festival ended up attracting over 800 people and will be featured in next fall's issue of the regional magazine Adirondack Life.

The growing homesteading movement in the North Country and across the U.S. will be showcased Saturday when the Paul Smith's College VIC hosts a day-long series of lectures and hands-on workshops geared for those looking to be more self-sufficient.

The Adirondack Rural Skills and Homesteading Festival, which runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., includes sessions on using draft horses to plow a field, raising chickens, making butter and canning.

"It's about acquiring the skills that have largely been lost, what I consider the lost arts," said Paul Smith's College Professor Brett McLeod, who's organizing the festival. "It's about learning from past generations. There's sort of this attitude I run into about these antiquated skills, and 'Why do we need them? We've got technology.' Technology is seen as this panacea that will take care of us. For me, it's about putting down your iPhone and picking up a shovel."

The event is one of hundreds happening across the country as part of International Homesteading Education Month, sponsored by Mother Earth News and Grit magazine. (Full disclosure: Mother Earth News and Grit are owned by Ogden Newspapers, the same company that owns the Enterprise.) It comes at a time of renewed interest, both nationally and here in the North Country, in living more simply and sustainbly.

"This is what I call the neo-homesteading movement; it hasn't been this big since the 1970s," said McLeod, who wrote his dissertation on trends in rural populations. "There's been this resurgence in basically all rural skills. The motivations for people doing it, some of them are the same as in the 1960s and 1970s, things like self-reliance and being able to provide food that you know where it came from."

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