Eco-Village’s Expanded Seminar Program for 1982

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During one of MOTHER EARTH NEWS' many seminars, learn how to build a log cabin by yourself.

If you’ve kept up with Mother’s Seminars for the last three years, you know that we’ve consistently tried to make each summer here at our North Carolina mountain property better than the previous one by continuing to pack more on-site, action-oriented, “get your hands dirty” learning into every class that we offer. Well, 1982 will be no exception.

The program changes we’re introducing this year will, we hope, make it easier for each participant to design a tailor-made vacation that fits his or her individual interests and schedules. For one thing, we’ve repackaged two of our most popular seminars as one-day lecture courses, which are to be followed by optional (first come, first served) two-day, hands-on practice sessions. Therefore, if you sign up for Cordwood Construction or Low-Cost Solar, you’ll have the choice of attending only the classroom day or of sticking around to apply your book learning in the workshop.

Furthermore, several of our seminars — Wood-stove Construction, Alternative Waste Management, and Meat/Dairy Production — will each feature two days of combined lecture and hands-on learning. Meanwhile, Earth-Sheltered Homes, which was probably the biggest-drawing class in last year’s lineup, will still provide three full days of instruction.

Of course, we’ll also offer an exciting array of one-day seminars, including our most popular classes from past summers and some intriguing new additions. For example, we’re introducing a series of one-day courses in around-the-homestead skills (such as welding, plumbing, and carpentry) designed to help homeowners handle a variety of maintenance and repair tasks.

As you might imagine, MOTHER EARTH NEWS’ seminar staff thinks this will be just about the most complete and flexible program we’ve ever put together. We’re already looking forward to sharing a lot of valuable information with our guests. Look over the following course descriptions, and make plans now to visit MOTHER EARTH NEWS’ Eco-Village during one of our 1982 seminar weeks: June 14-19, July 1217, or August 16-21. It may very well turn out to be a vacation that will positively — and permanently — affect the way you live!

Cordwood Construction

Learn this low-cost, anyone-can-do-it building method in the classroom and then try it yourself. Workshop participants will examine the cordwood structures we’ve already built at the Eco-Village and help MOTHER EARTH NEWS’ crew construct some new buildings.

Meat and Dairy Production

If the idea of complete food self-reliance (beyond gardening) appeals to you, this two-day seminar can help you get a homestead meat and dairy operation started. We’ll spend the classroom portion discussing the rudiments of raising such animals as cows, goats, and rabbits. The rest of the time is in “laboratory” sessions on making cheese, butter, and other by-products of a homestead livestock operation.

Alternative Waste Management

If you live in an area where the ground won’t percolate liquid wastes or where water is in short supply, this two-day seminar will show you (with the help of experts from North Carolina State University) how to design a system for household and/or industrial waste management that will work within your location’s limitations and in harmony with the environment.

Wood Stove Construction

This two-day combined lecture-workshop course will include detailed information on wood stove construction (from old water heaters, oil drums, etc.), as well as on their operation and maintenance. Be prepared to get your hands dirty.

Earth-Sheltered Housing

This popular seminar is conducted primarily in the classroom, but its three days are so information-packed that some folks have returned to take the course a second time! MOTHER EARTH NEWS’ experts will take you through the beautiful, energy-efficient earth-sheltered house they’re building on our property. They will also examine other options to help you decide whether this up-and-coming form of alternative housing is for you.

Stained Glass

Here’s a new class that will introduce you to a satisfying pastime that could earn you some extra dollars. In a single jam-packed day you’ll learn the basics of design, color, glass cutting, leading, and soldering. You will also make a beautiful handmade sun-catcher to hang in your window at home.

Chair Canning

Flea market and estate auction sleuths occasionally pick up lovely old wooden chairs. Unfortunately, these all too often disappear into the garage because their new owners can’t repair the rotted, sagging seats. Well, with the knowledge of materials and patterns gained in this one day course, you can make such white elephants into beautiful, functional pieces of furniture and learn how to turn this pleasurable hobby into a lucrative home business!

Log Construction

One of the simplest — and most time-honored — types of dwellings is the log house. Fortunately, you can build your own if you have access to woodland and a desire to make something that’s different from the “kit” log homes on the market today. Our instructors will show you how to select trees, how — and when — to cut and peel them and the best methods of notching, fitting and chinking the logs.

Low-Cost Solar

You can “solar-fit” your home, at minimal expense, using scrap materials. The lecture portion of this seminar will introduce you to the mechanics of sun power and workshop attendees will actually construct simple collectors. (Some folks might even want to buy their handiwork — paying only the price of materials — and take it home!)

Biodynamic/French Intensive Gardening

MOTHER EARTH NEWS’ gardeners will share their years of experience with you in one busy day by presenting demonstrations of double-digging and composting plus advice on planning your garden, intensive planting and using the harvest.

Solar Greenhouse

Our Solar Greenhouse class offers the groundwork you need to put a sun-catching addition on your house that will not only produce fresh food year round (MOTHER EARTH NEWS’ gardeners will be on hand to show you how), but help cut your home heating bills as well.

Wild Foods and Foraging

This class will teach outdoor enthusiasts and botanical gourmets how to find and identify the delicious greens, roots, seeds, berries, and nuts that are “hiding” almost everywhere and are free for the gathering. Class members will hike the Eco-Village’s wild-foods trails and then sample some mouthwatering foraged treats.

Rammed Earth Housing

After a short introductory lecture, you’ll get firsthand experience in one of the most inexpensive, natural home-building methods around by helping to pack soil for the walls of MOTHER EARTH NEWS’ new rammed earth solar greenhouse.


MOTHER EARTH NEWS’ instructors will demonstrate how to put together a simple, low cost forge, build a proper fire, identify different kinds of steel and fashion such tools as chisels and knives.

Wind Power

If you live in an area with steady breezes, this may be the seminar for you. The class will deal primarily with employing manufactured hardware, rather than with building your own wind plant from scratch. Instructors will also answer such questions as whether to choose an AC or DC system, and whether to invest in rebuilt equipment or buy the newest components.

Electrical Wok, Plumbing, Welding, Carpentry, Masonry, Heating and Air Conditioning

Here’s our new series of six one-day classes — which can be taken separately or in any combination you choose — designed to make the homeowner better able to handle general household maintenance tasks (or, when the job’s too big for you to manage, at least to know whether a hired pro is trying to rip you off).

Hydroelectric Power

Many landowners have small streams on their acreage that — once harnessed — could easily charge a few batteries or supply low-wattage power for an outbuilding or shop. The experts who erected a working micro-hydro station at the dam on MOTHER EARTH NEWS’ property will tell you how to evaluate the potential of your creek or river.

Experimental Vehicles and Alternative Fuels

During the morning session, you’ll watch MOTHER EARTH NEWS’ ethanol still in action and learn how to convert your vehicle to run on “corn power.” In the afternoon you’ll be introduced to the production of wood gas, and find out how this future fuel can be used now to power vehicles or even to provide electricity and heat for your home!

Small-Engine Maintenance

How many times have you gone out to turn the garden or cut some firewood only to find that the tiller or chain saw simply refuses to start despite your best efforts? This seminar will help you avoid such frustrating incidents by teaching you how to keep your small machines in working order.


If you’ve always wanted your own metal shop, this course could help make that dream a reality. Through lectures and hands-on demonstrations, we’ll show you how to shape molds and sand-cast molten aluminum and other low-temperature alloys.

Well Drilling

Here’s a new course for beginners who’d like to learn the money-saving possibilities of do-it-yourself water wells.

Personal Stress Management

Stress is an almost inescapable part of life. But, no matter what your life situation, you can learn how to deal creatively with stress and even to convert it to positive energy.


If you’ve been trying to lose weight or stop smoking — or control any destructive habit — you might want to consider self-hypnosis, a behavior modification technique that’s produced amazing results. Our instructor is a graduate member of the Association of British Hypnotherapists.