Visit to Texas and the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Reader Contribution by Cindy Conner and Homeplace Earth
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For the first time ever, Mother Earth News had a Fair in Texas. I was a speaker there and it was my first time in Texas. I found Texans to be a friendly bunch of people. When I travel to an event such as this, I like to see a little more of the area than the convention center and hotel. That’s what led me to seek out Yarnorama in Paige, Texas. Finding out through the wonders of the Internet that Susan Fricks, the owner, had knowledge about growing cotton is what led me there. I had a good chat with Susan, picked up some needed supplies, and continued on to the hotel.

As always, the Mother Earth Fair was a great event and I met lots of new people. The climate is quite different than here in Virginia, so I spoke about those differences when I gave my talk about fitting cover crops into your garden rotation. Some of us speakers talked among ourselves about adjusting our presentations to fit the Texas climate. I also talked about seed libraries. Setting up a seed library is pretty much the same no matter where you are. Although that talk was at the end of the second day, my audience did not seemed burned out yet and was really interested in what I had to say. Seed libraries are definitely gaining momentum around the country and my book on the subject helps to give the founders direction.

Texas is a cotton state, so people were eager to hear my From Seed to Garment talk. If they wanted to get started right away, fairgoers could buy a spindle and cotton kit from Ploughshare Institute. Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and Brim Seed Company had cotton seeds for sale. My talk includes flax and how to grow and process it for linen. I had anticipated cotton would hold the most interest in Texas, as would flax in Pennsylvania. I was surprised and pleased to discover that the Ploughshare Institute folks were growing flax at their place. Now is the time to plant flax here in Virginia in Zone 7, but due to the difference in climates, they had planted it in the fall and it was beginning to flower now.

The Ploughshare Institute, located about an hour away, had a big presence at the Fair. With their booths and a stage that showcased their speakers, people were able to get a good feel for what they were about. On Saturday I found a quiet place to sit outside on the grass before I had to give my second talk of the day. It so happened that I could hear the speaker from the stage just on the other side of the wall through a large vent. He was talking about sustainable gardening and was saying everything I would say! When I went back in, the talk was over, but I discovered that it was the Ploughshare stage and that Jacob Klingensmith had been the speaker. I met him later. No wonder I liked those people. You can learn more about my time in Texas at Homeplace Earth.

Before I left Texas I was able to visit the Homestead Heritage Craft Village, home of Ploughshare Institute. This place is the work of a community of folks devoted to sustainable practices themselves and eager to teach others. Bryan Welch wrote about Homestead Heritage in the June/July 2013 issue of the Mother Earth News. You can read his article here.

Maintaining a homestead takes time and effort. Sometimes we can get so caught up in what needs to be done in front of us that we don’t take time out to step back, meet new people, and learn what others are doing. A Mother Earth News Fair is the perfect place to take that needed break. You will meet like-minded people, have your ideas reinforced, and be exposed to new ones. I hope to see you there sometime!

Cindy Conneris the author of Seed Librariesand Grow a Sustainable Dietand has produced DVDs about garden planning and managing cover crops with hand tools. Learn more about what she is up to at Homeplace Earth. Read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS postshere

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