Sunday, March 31, 2013

Kentucky Green Living Fair - 2013

This weekend we attended the Kentucky Green Living Fair, presented by Sustainable Kentucky. The event was held in Somerset, Ky at The Barn at Redgate. With 16 workshops, 70+ vendors, and more than 1,000 attendees, from six states, I think it is safe to say this the event was a success.

As always, my focus for the fair were the workshops. I find that an event like this can be a source of a lot of great information, for a small investment. That was certainly the case for the Kentucky Green Living Fair, especially considering the nominal admission fee.

The workshops were held in three indoor classrooms as well as one outdoor area. All of the workshops I attended were in the same room, but Andrea indicated that the other rooms were similar in size and layout. The rooms were relatively small, with seating for 44 people, which proved to be insufficient for some of the workshops.

Only 45 minutes was allotted for each workshop, which did not seem to be enough time. I know that some of the presentations were shortened, to fit into the allowed time. I also noticed that by the time one workshop ended, there was already a line forming of people waiting to get into the room for the next one.


So You Wanna Keep Bees? - Walter T. Kelley Company

The turnout for this workshop wasn't great, with approximately half of the seats remaining empty. However, it was offered again later in the day, which likely resulted in the crowd being split. Also, I find that often the first workshops of the day aren't as crowded as those later in the day.

As expected, the material covered in the workshop was very introductory, and was aimed at those unfamiliar with beekeeping. Even though we do not have bees, I have attended enough workshops on the topic that these introductory workshops rarely offer a significant learning opportunity. I keep attending, them, though, as there are always new pieces of information to be learned, since each instructor has a different system, and each presentation has a different focus.

The workshop covered beekeeping basics, such as equipment, site selection, sources of pollen, etc. The focus was on Langstroth hives, which makes sense because those are the most commonly used type. One of the interesting tips that was given was to use hummingbird feeders, slightly modified, to provide the bees with a source of sugar water outside of the hive when pollen isn't available. My favorite part of the workshop, though, was the photo she showed of a cat, sitting on the top of a beehive.

DIY Solar - Dan Adams and Don Adams of Earthineer

Based on my knowledge of the turnout for this workshop at other events, I knew the room would be packed. Several people stood for the duration of the workshop, because there were not available seats.

Dan began by explaining that the presentation was an abbreviated version of the normal presentation, due to the time restriction. Luckily, however, Dan and Don were both available at the Earthineer booth to answer questions throughout the day. Also, most of the material covered in the presentation is available on Earthineer, making it easily accessible for anyone interested in the topic.

Even though I had never attended the DIY Solar workshop, as I've always been busy attending other workshops when Dan and Don were presenting, I was familiar with the material through the blogs and videos posted on Earthineer. The workshop has made me think that maybe DIY Solar isn't beyond my abilities, especially if starting small, possibly from a kit. I spent some time after the workshop chatting with Don about some of the options, and may very well consider purchasing a kit in the future to try my hand at assembling a panel.

Season Extension with High Tunnels - Allison Wiediger of Au Natural Farm

There was a good turnout for this workshop, with approximately 3/4 of the seats filled.

This workshop was very enjoyable, primarily because the presenter was so high-energy and fun. The focus was primarily on the use of high tunnels by market gardeners, for season extension, and therefore increased profits. I was impressed with many of the results she reported, and can see how the use of high tunnels could certainly benefit anyone selling produce or flowers to the public.

The focus wasn't entirely on market gardeners, however. There was a brief discussion of cold frames and quick hoops, both of which are good options for backyard gardeners. I would like to eventually look into installing a small hoop house. The possibility of being able to harvest fresh peppers into December is very appealing.

I also want to do some research on the organic fertilizer that the Wiediger's use on their farm. Replenish 3-4-3 is made from composted chicken manure, which they apply twice a year to the soil in their high tunnels.

Backyard Poultry 101 - Geoff McPherson of Good Life Ranch

The turnout for this workshop was also good, with only a couple of open seats.

This workshop was originally scheduled to be presented by Chuckle Patch Farm. Something apparently came up, however, and the McPherson's were contacted the day before about stepping in. Geoff did a great job, especially on such short notice.

One of the interesting things about this workshop is that ducks were highly recommended as an alternative to chickens, for those interested primarily in egg production and insect control. While I don't think that we'll every abandon our plans to acquire chickens, it is possible that we'll consider adding a couple of ducks to our flock at some point down the road.

One of the other points that was discussed briefly was raising chickens on forage only, with no supplemental feed. It was indicated that the chickens can indeed survive with no supplemental feed, although egg production will be reduced. This was something I was happy to hear, especially since we will not need maximum egg production for our own use.

I hoped to stop by the Good Life Ranch booth after the workshop to get some information on the breeds that they raise. When the time comes to acquire chickens we would like to find a local source for acquiring them, so we're on the lookout for places in the area selling heritage birds to talk to and visit prior to that time.

In addition to the workshops I attended, Andrea attended Fermentation 101, Organic Gardening 101, and The Home Dairy. There were also two workshop sessions during which there was nothing scheduled that I was particularly interested in. I planned to attend some demos during those times, but  I'm not sure those all happened as scheduled. Nothing was going on when I dropped by the first one on my schedule, so I ended up just browsing the vendors instead.

There were more than 70 vendors at the event, which I was impressed with. Most of the vendors were set up outside, although there were a few booths inside. We stopped by several booths, where we picked up information and talked with the vendors. Of course we also made a few purchases of local products.


Field to Fork Festival - Deborah, of Halcombs Knob was on hand to promote the 2013 Field to Fork Festival. She was also accepting early registration for the F2F workshops, which we took advantage of. In fact, she said that we were the first to turn in our registration forms, guaranteeing that we'll have a spot in our workshops of choice at the festival.

Rock Bottom Stables & Soap Company - I was surprised to discover that Rock Bottom is located in London. It turns out that I have driven by their retail location several times, yet had never noticed it. I picked up some of their peppermint lip balm, and plan to visit their store in the near future to buy a few other items. I am especially interested in picking up some shave soap, as I haven't really seen many other locally produced options.

Sadistic Mistress Sauces - The Sadistic Mistress booth was one I had been looking forward to visiting since seeing them listed on the Kentucky Green Living Fair website. They make a variety of hot sauces, which were available to test and purchase. Rather than test them all, I described what I was looking for, and found that the suggested sauce was idea for my needs. I picked up a bottle of Psalms 22:1, which is made with ghost peppers, estimated at 1.6 million on the Scoville Scale.

Bill Best, Heirloom Seeds - Andrea had previously attended a seed saving workshop by Bill Best. He is well known in this area, especially for his heirloom beans, which I hear he is passionate about. He was selling his book, Saving Seeds, Preserving Taste at the fair, so she picked up a copy.

Earthineer - Dan went all out with the Earthineer booth. In addition to promoting the site, he was giving bokashi composting demonstrations throughout the day. Don (aka GrumpOldMan) was on hand to show off a couple of their DIY solar panels. Jereme (aka RedHeadedYeti) was there to talk about mead making. I dropped by the booth several times to chat, and spent the last hour or so of the fair there talking to Dan and Don, as well as a couple of other Earthineer members who were at the fair as attendees.

JD Country Milk - We stopped by the JD Country Milk booth just to chat with them for a few minutes. As I've mentioned on the blog before, I prefer buying their milk whenever I can. I talked to them about their tours, and was told they will be having another this fall, which I'm hopeful that we can attend.

Pike Valley Farm - The Pike Valley Farm booth is another that we stopped by just to chat. We have visited the farm a couple of times in the past several months, and have switched to their chicken breast as our preferred brand. Since attending the Raising Heritage Poultry for Profit and Pleasure workshop I had been wondering what breed of chicken is sold by Pike Valley, so that was my primary question for them. I was a bit disappointed by the answer, although not at all surprised. They raise Cornish Cross, which is the breed most commonly raised as a meat bird. They did say that they would like to raise a heritage breed, if they were able to find a market.

Story Magazine - I wasn't familiar with Story Magazine before seeing them listed as a vendor for the fair. They were giving away free issues of the magazine, so we picked up a couple to see if it is something we might be interested in subscribing to.

Caught Wild Salmon - Andrea had picked up some Caught Wild Salmon when we last visited the Marksbury Farm store. She hasn't tried it yet, so we stopped by the booth where she tried a sample. We did discover that they use Hickory for their smoke, which might be a bit of a concern since Andrea has a Hickory allergy. We need to find out what is is specifically that she is allergic to, and whether the smoke will carry those same allergens.

Chuckle Patch Farm - We didn't get to talk to anyone at the Chuckle Path booth, because they were so busy. We did pick up some information, however. It looks like they might be a possible source for acquiring chickens. We will have to schedule a visit sometime, to get a look at their operation and talk to them about their breeding methods.

My hope is that the 2013 Kentucky Green Living Fair was the first of many similar events. The fair was well organized, especially for a first time event. The turnout was impressive, which makes me hopeful that we will continue to see more local fairs and expos throughout the state. I will be eagerly watching the Sustainable Kentucky webpage for information on future events.

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