Hope, Hops and How to Forge a Sustainable Life Mother Earth News Fair, Seven Springs, PA, 12-14 Sept 2014

by: EJ on 09/23/2014

Today's blog comes to us from Rob West, Director of Collaborative Publishing and Special Sales, who reports back on his baptism by fire at his first Mother Earth News Fair. 



After 22 hours of travel the New Society team woke to the sun breaking through the mist at Pennsylvania’s Seven Springs resort, home of the Mother Earth News Fair.

Eleven New Society authors wowed the throngs of homesteaders, herbalists and eco-DIYers with over two dozen talks to thousands of attendees.

New Society veteran Dan Chiras, author of nine New Society books including The Homeowner’s Guide to Renewable Energy:Revised and Updated Edition, launched the fair with a hope-filled keynote talk on the fight over the future direction of world energy production. On the Saturday he put in five talks on home- and business-scale renewable energy production, and still managed to field questions from eager readers at his own booth.


Douglas Stevenson delved into the history and evolution of The Farm Then and Now: a Model for Sustainable Living, packing the house with MENers contemplating a model for sustainable living.

There was nary a dry eye when Pam Dawling surprised 13-year-old speaker Eleanor Wilkinson with of a signed copy of her book Sustainable Market Farming: Intensive Vegetable Production on a Few Acres. You can read all about how Pam’s writing has influenced this bright, independent young farmer on Pam’s blog. Pam packed out her own talks on fall vegetable planting, with over 300 people flooding out the doors of one session.

Darrell Frey, author of Bioshelter Market Garden: A Permaculture Farm and veteran of every single MEN fair, once again generously bestowed decades of knowledge and wisdom on the crowds.

Lisa Kivirist and partner John Ivanko, authors of Farmstead Chef, ECOpreneuring: Putting Purpose and Planet Before Profits, Rural Renaissance:Renewing the Quest for the Good Life and the forthcoming spring 2015 title Homemade for Sale, wowed the crowds with dynamism, chemistry and experience-based knowledge born of their twenty-year journey to homestead self-sufficiency.

Jeanine Davis, co-author of Growing and Marketing Ginseng, Goldenseal and other Woodland Medicinals taught me and a room of eager brewers how to grow hops. Insatiable demand had her book selling out of the MEN bookstore halfway through her signing, and eager listeners packed her subsequent talks, hoping to scoop a copy from the free draw. 

Sylvia Bernstein explained the ins and outs of Aquaponic Gardening: a Step by Step Guide to Raising Vegetables and Fish Together to hundreds at the outdoor GRIT stage —including the dozens of folks who couldn’t fit under the overhang, and stood in the rain to hear about the massive productivity of combining hydroponic vegetable production with fish farming.

Dawn Combs’ new book Conceiving Healthy Babies: An Herbal Guide to Support Preconception, Pregnancy and Lactation, still warm from the printer, was a huge hit, as were her talks on adrenal health and her virtual herbal medicine walk, which gave attendees a taste of her forthcoming spring 2015 New Society book Heal Local:20 Essential Herbs for Do-it-Yourself Home Healthcare, on growing and maintaining a home herbal medicine chest.

Cindy Conner talked about how to Grow a Sustainable Diet:Planning and Growing to Feed Ourselves and the Earth, led hands-on workshops revealing the secrets of her scheduling and tracking systems for food growers, and chatted about how to set-up Seed Libraries:And Other Means of Keeping Seeds in the Hands of the People to safeguard our common agricultural heritage.

Victoria Redhead Miller, author of Pure Poultry:Living Well with Heritage Chickens, Turkeys and Ducks, fielded questions from nearly five hundred domesticated-bird aficionados, providing tips from how to protect against predators – guard donkeys anyone?! -- to selecting duck breeds for maximum egg production.      

On the New Society Publishers front, acquisition specialist Ingrid Witvoet heard pitches from budding authors and tracked down purveyors of must-have information that will grace the future New Society Publishers' book list, and mapped out fresh book ideas with experienced authors.

When asked by one author how we measure success at such an event, looking out over the crowds of people arm-deep in sauerkraut crocks, feet muddy from cob building and energized by Joel Salatin’s table-thumping call to action to improve our lives and our collective world, I responded:‘Connecting with these people is success. It’s what New Society does.”  

See you in Topeka, Kansas next month for the next wonder-full Mother Earth News Fair!




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