We hosted a big event here at our farm last weekend and the weather couldn't have been any more beautiful for it. 350 or so people from all across the country came to 'Learn How To Homestead In A Weekend' from some of the best self-sustainable living teachers there are.
Although it was held at our homestead, it was put on by Amy Fewell and her team at Homesteaders of America. They hold a much larger event every fall at a fairground in Virginia that I went to a couple of years ago (I will be speaking/singing this coming October). This was the first mini-homestead conference that Amy had done, and as far as I can tell... it was a big success.
For two days, lectures and speakers were sharing their wisdom and insights in the concert hall, hands-on demonstrations and workshops in two big tents, and a children's 'Kidsteader' program going on over at the Schoolhouse grounds.
Legendary farmer/speaker Joel Salatin spoke about raising salad-bar beef and gave a live chicken-butchering demonstration in one of the tents. Justin Rhodes spoke about pastured poultry, and dozens of other folks shared their wisdom on everything from bee-keeping and bread making, to homeschooling, and how to keep a milk cow. There were also lots of wonderful vendors who set up tents filled with things you might need on your homestead like walk-behind tractors, wood splitters, hand-dyed yarn, or newborn baby chicks.
On Friday night, I even got my guitar out and shared a few 'stories and songs from the homestead.' Honestly, it was one of my favorite shows I have ever played. The combination of where we were and the kindred spirits of the group I was singing for... and not only sharing songs from my heart, but also what is truly inside my heart, was incredibly powerful and inspiring, especially for me.
Having the event here at our farm also reminded me how many people all across the country (and beyond) are rethinking where their food is coming from. Especially after the last year. And they are also rethinking school and education for their children. The kind of work they do and where it has to be done. And what their home is for. Rather than just home being a place to stop off between work, running our kids to soccer practice, or just a place to sleep after a long day of 'going,' (which is how most of us live life these days)... they're realizing that home can and should be a place that is alive. A place where we truly 'live' and spend our lives. A place where we can raise not only our children, but a good portion of our food, and root ourselves not only in the land we live on, but also in the communities we live in.
Here is a short video that Amy and her team at HoA put together that shares some of the weekend's activities and moments.
There are also lots of other videos that some of the folks who attended have shared. There's oen by Kaylee from The Honeystead... Justin's from "Abundant Permaculture"... and a wonderful recap of the weekend that my nephew Mikel put together and shared from his point of view.
From our back porch, I could watch it all going on. But the best part was that I could walk out and sit in on many of the lectures and lessons myself. That I could 'learn how to homestead' with everyone else. I couldn't help but think how much my pretty bride would have loved this weekend. Especially since it happened here on our farm.
I feel pretty certain that this "learn how to homestead in a weekend" event will happen again next year at our farm. Who knows, it might turn into a few different homesteading events and other ways to use our concert hall and farm as a place where ideas and creativity grow in others. Where dreams take root in the hearts of people who come from near and far to be part of a day or weekend of learning or sharing. It has definitely caused me to rethink the possibilities here at the farm and why God has us here in this place, for a time such as this.
On that note, the weekend ended with a wonderful impromptu church service in our barn on Sunday morning, where Joel Salatin shared a sermon from the book of Esther to folks from all different backgrounds, religions, and denominations who were still in town after the conference had ended. It was a special way to end a very special weekend.
Thank you to Amy, and everyone on her team, and ours that helped to make the weekend happen. To learn more about future events at our farm with Homesteaders of America, or the upcoming national Homestead Conference in Virginia that I'll be speaking at this October, go HERE. And hopefully, in the coming weeks, I'll be sharing one of the new things that we've decided to start doing here as a result of the seminar and the folks we met over that wonderful weekend here on the blog...