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Experts educate festival-goers on environmental topics

Experts educate festival-goers on environmental topics


Our Town Correspondent


“There is no Planet B,” as one saying goes.

Organizers of Mother Earth News Fair — people like Nancy Heeney, the Fair’s assistant producer — are getting ready to give people an opportunity to join them at Seven Springs Mountain Resort to learn about ways to make sustainable lifestyle choices and, therefore, help the planet. 

This year, the fair is to be held at Seven Springs from noon to 6 p.m. Sept. 13, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 14 and from 9 to 5 p.m. Sept. 15.

The fair’s itinerary includes approximately 150 hands-on workshops, lectures and in-booth demonstrations from experts. Festival-goers can learn about topics such as preparing and preserving food, organic gardening, homesteading, renewable energy and small-scale livestock.

Local and national speakers will also be offering presentations and workshops. Dan Chiras of the Evergreen Institute, for example, will discuss “money-saving hacks” in his presentation, “Free Heating and Cooling for Life.” He’ll cover how to design/build a home or rehab an existing one so that it will naturally stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

“You can drastically cut down on heating and cooling costs while increasing the comfort of your home by following key design principles,” Heeney said.

Maria Noel Groves will offer a presentation called “Backyard Medicine,” in which she’ll discuss herbs and their various uses.

“When it comes to ‘health-boosting remedies,’” Heeney said, “we have multiple speakers discussing different approaches to a healthier lifestyle.” 

Those include Hannah Crum (“Kombucha and the Human Microbiome”); Janice Cox (“Garden Herbs for Health and Beauty”); and Frances and Jeff Tacy (“Hemp 101”).  

Other presenters will be featured throughout the three-day event. 

Classes are popular, too.

“Our hands-on classes have grown exponentially,” Heeney said. “It’s such a great opportunity to try something out right there at the event and have guidance from an expert on the subject. At each fair, we find more ways to create personal and interactive classes that dive deeper than a presentation. At Seven Springs, we will have a range of workshops — classes on all-natural deodorant and lotion, surviving the wilderness, homesteading success, hand-stitching leather and so much more.” 

Not all events and activities are designed for adults; children and teens are welcome to participate as well. The Kids’ Treehouse Club offers children an opportunity to interact with animals, cook healthy foods, plant seeds and more. 

“Making the event kid-friendly is important for a variety of reasons,” Heeney said. “Showing kids how to do things for themselves and their community builds important life skills, and shows them that the first step is always giving it a try. We make sure the presentations are diverse in subject and applicable to any age under 17.” 

The event will also include a marketplace, where hundreds of exhibitors, artisans, authors and entrepreneurs will sell items such as crafts, foods, books, solar energy systems and more. 

Heeney said she hopes attendees will take a moment to visit the fair’s new perennial polyculture guild. 

“Up on the hillside, just a few steps away from Helen’s restaurant, we worked with Darrell Frey of Three Sisters Farm and Bioshelter to install a very simple perennial polyculture guild (Darrell is also the author of ‘Bioshelter Market Garden: A Permaculture Farm’),” she said. “The plans for this little project came together last minute, so there was not a lot of promotion before the Fair. Still, several attendees caught wind and showed up to help us dig and plant. 

“Designed to mimic natural polyculture, the 20-foot-by-36-foot guild included the seven forest layers: a tree, understory trees, shrubs, vines, herbaceous plants, ground covers and underground. Attendees learned basic concepts and principles as they worked that relate to food forests and permaculture design. Plants included a semi-dwarf apple tree, Jerusalem artichoke, Daylily, currant, gooseberry, wild indigo, comfrey and bronze fennel. This year, we will be adding to the plot, including the installation of a raised garden bed utilizing logs that will be inoculated with mushroom spores.” 

For the complete schedule, visit and click on “Pennsylvania.” 

Seven Springs, Heeney said, is “where it all started.” But the groundwork for the fair was laid decades earlier, when the magazine hosted visitors each summer at its Eco-Village in North Carolina. 

The fair beckons approximately 15,000 people to the resort over the three-day weekend. Ultimately, Heeney said, the fair serves as a way to create “self-reliance and communal interaction.”  

That, and to help support and care for the planet.   

“Mother Earth has provided so much for us,” Heeney said. “It’s our responsibility to practice sustainable systems so we leave the same flourishing Earth to future generations of not only human beings but all species and organisms.” 

Tickets can be purchased in advance at or by calling 800-234-3368. Tickets can also be purchased in-person at the gate. Children ages 17 and under are free, and students and military receive a discounted admission rate.

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