Mother Earth News Fair Review (Seven Springs, PA 2017)

Mother Earth News Fair Review

(Seven Springs, PA)

2017

mother earth news fair

I can’t believe it was already a week ago (last weekend) that I worked in a vendor booth at the Mother Earth News Fair for the 2nd year. This has become one of my favorite events to work! The first year at the event, I met some wonderful people including the women from Pittsburgh’s “Farm to Table of Western, PA.” Last year, I was amazed at how many vendors participate in this fair.

On a side a note, I’ll explain why I loved this event even more this year!  We all know that life isn’t always pleasant and peachy by any means, it also doesn’t always go as imagined or planned. (This has been especially true for me probably for about the past two years.) Sometimes we get to a point, before we hit a breaking point where we finally have to figure out what brings us any type of happiness… I was outside thinking one day when I thought, what is simple that makes me smile that makes me proud of myself?  Gardening…it’s such a small part of my life, but it was something that I knew that I enjoyed and wanted to learn more about. It all started with me planting small things from time to time, year to year. Nothing crazy, just mosty container gardening. Last year, I started to add a few perennials around the yard. This year, I decided early this summer that I wanted to take a basic gardening class. I was interested in creating a good soil. (Money is always tight, and always seems to be an issue and holds me back from many things. I researched and found a reasonably priced class and decided to register for it.) It was probably one of the best decisions and investments that I have made in a long time! I was so excited to attend! (I was the student that got there early and sat in the front row! A little nerdy, I know, but that’s okay in my book, haha!) This class was wonderful and I looked forward to attending it each week! Sure, you can read, watch YouTube videos, and learn online, but it felt really great and did me a world of good to take an hour for myself a week, with no interruptions, and educate myself in a roomful of individuals with the same interest as me. 

This experience gave me the confidence to expand and fill my backyard with new and old favorites of plant, flower, and vegetable varieties.  I felt that it wasn’t a waste of money because I at least had a little bit more confidence and knowledge now that I could take of care of these plants.  It’s the best feeling waking up, looking out your window and admiring the shapes, colors, and beauty these creations of nature provides us.  Also, there is fun in picking and cooking with your own herbs and vegetables!  It’s a hobby that I love and continue to learn more about!

Now, back to the Mother Earth News Fair Review! (Sorry for the long explanation and venting!) So knowing what I did from attending the event last year, I was kinda in (nerd mode) again and researched the fair weeks in advance. I looked at their website, printed out maps, calendars, and schedules for workshops. I also researched some of the speakers and got my highlighter ready for what I was interested in!

Unfortunately, I did not have time to participate in any of the workshops while working, but the research still paid off because as I took a break on Sunday, I was able to make a beeline and gather information from the booths that I knew I wanted to visit. One thing that I appreciated that Mother Earth Fair did was keep vendors in a similar set up from the year before. That way if you do have limited time, you can make sure that you hit up your favorite booths if you remembered where they were set up from the year before.

Seven Springs was a great location! It was gorgeous up there! The weather cooperated and we had chilly mornings and beautiful days! I would take that drive in the morning any day.  Such a burst of refreshing air, with leaves starting to change colors…Beautiful!!!  The venue was packed with people who varied from locals to visitors from various states. The pictures from the workshops were also filled. If you love gardening and sustainable living, this is one event that I highly suggest you go visit!

There are Mother Earth News Fairs held in Kansas, Texas, North Carolina, and PA. Some of my favorite booths that I visited this year were: Funky Fresh Family Farms, Farm to Table Western, PA, The Gardener’s Workshop, Sow True Seed, Mockingbird Meadows Farm, Metalledwith, The Bookstore, Fruition Seeds, Mother Earth’s Natural Organic Root Cider, (I’m not sure if it was this or the Fire Cider that I had from the Herb Angel, but I noticed a huge improvement in my sinuses over the next few days without having to take anything for them.) I’m anxious to plant my Marshmallow seeds that I purchased from Herb Angel. Sacred Plant Traditions was another booth that I enjoyed. The lady working the Harris Seeds booth was so friendly and she hooked me up with free purple carrot seeds! I’m also looking forward to learn more about the PA Women’s Agricultural Network and see what they have to offer and how I can educate myself in the future through their workshops.

The 2017 Mother Earth News Fair in Seven Springs was a success for the booth that I worked for, as well as a whole for the entire fair. I could’ve definitely spent 3 days learning new and different things each day, as well as attending workshops or taking it day by day to spend time at vendor booths and have time to talk to them and generate connections and network. Thanks, Mother Earth News for a great fair at Seven Springs! I’m already looking forward to attending next year!

Here are some pictures of me before arriving to the fair and our vendor booth at the fair.

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National Pollinator Week

National Pollinator Week

If I’m not working, reading, or writing, then you can most likely find me outside. I’ll be pruning and dead heading plants or flowers, pulling weeds or tilling soil, planting new plants and flowers, or feeding and watering the ones that I have.

How have I never heard of National Pollinator Week? It is an International celebration! As I researched to learn more, I found out that it started in 2006 by the US State Senate to bring awareness and recognition of how important pollinators are to our world and how valuable they are to our ecosystem. This year it was celebrated June 19-25, 2017.

You may be thinking to yourself, “What are pollinators?” Birds, butterflies, beetles, bats, and bees are all pollinators. These pollinators sustain our ecosystems, help plants reproduce, and help with our food supply. Did you know that our landscapes could collapse if it wasn’t for these pollinators? They are very important for us and our environment. The website pollinator.org has tons of information and promotes “National Pollinator Week.”

We need pollinators and pollinators need us! Many pollinator populations are declining due to loss of nesting habitats and feeding. We can help pollinators by providing them with proper plants. Planting and placing plants in home gardens, schools, farms, and near highways will help supply pollinators. Other ways to help them would be to buy locally, shop at farmer’s markets, spread the word and create awareness.

There are Eco-regional planting guides available online and there is even an app for your phone to help you determine and decide what plants will attract pollinators.

Recently, I’ve been hearing a lot of people talking about the importance of native and heirloom plants. It is a good idea to incorporate these types of plants into your gardens. Bees have been, and still are on a decline, and now I’m beginning to hear that monarch butterflies are on a decline as well. Monarchs love milkweed. This plant in your yard will provide monarch butterflies with food.

If you are asking yourself how to create an environment for pollinators, you can plant a variety of flowers that bloom throughout the seasons of spring through fall. Also, limit the use of pesticides. Make sure to provide shelter and water for pollinators. Just as we need water, water is important for wildlife and nature as well.

It can be quite enjoyable watching pollinators connect with nature. You can watch them by going for a walk, or just sitting outside and paying attention to your surroundings. Look at the plants, flowers, animals, and pollinators around you. Take it all in, and in no time at all, you will be connecting yourself back to nature as well!

The website pollinator.org suggests some great ways to create awareness to others by providing ways to show the importance of pollinators. Some of their suggestions were using a symbol or pictures of pollinators next to the foods that they pollinate. Another idea was hosting a cooking class or creating a menu that showcases the food we eat to bring awareness to people as they sample and taste foods that we enjoy. Pollinators are important in that they help produce what we need to be able to have foods, spices, beverages, and even some medicines. This makes the situation more realistic knowing that if pollinators keep declining, we will have less of these foods, spices, and medicines in our daily lives.

It is important to bring awareness not only one week out of the year, but throughout the year. We need to educate not only adults, but children as well, because they are our future!

What are some of your ideas to bring awareness to others about the decline and importance of pollinators to others? How do you celebrate National Pollinator Week?

April Showers, Bring May Flowers…

April Showers, Bring May Flowers…

Hello everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful and enjoyable weekend! Although it was a rainy Saturday, Sunday was absolutely gorgeous out, and I hope that you did something that made you feel happy and put a smile on your face!

After debating back and forth about attending the Penn State Master Gardeners, Garden Marketplace at the ice rink at Shady Side Academy, located in Fox Chapel, I decided to go by myself and check it out. Let me tell you, that I am so glad that I went! Gardening is one of my favorite hobbies. I, by no means, am a professional gardener, but I get so much enjoyment while I’m outside planting things and watching them grow! I was completely overwhelmed not only by all of the gorgeous plants, flowers, and herbs, but by the friendliness, kindness, and knowledgeable gardeners and vendors that were there. There were native plants, unique varieties, perennials, annuals, and herbs galore! I was so excited walking down each aisle, imagining how I could landscape these beauties of nature into my own secret garden one day.

When I first walked into the Marketplace, I noticed the local daffodil society’s annual show and competition. I never realized how many different types of daffodils existed. There were some really pretty varieties that I have never seen before.

After walking through the aisles two times, I went back around and made a few purchases. I loved the idea of them having a plant check, (similar to a wine check, only instead of wine, it is for your purchased plants.) This was such a great idea, because it isn’t always easy carrying around a bunch of plants of different shapes and sizes. This Marketplace, really put me in a wonderful mood!  (All that beauty and the wonderful smells!)

On Sunday, I woke up knowing that I needed to plant what I purchased on Saturday. That required adding additional dirt/soil in my flower beds so that I could begin planting. Instead of making things easy on myself and just buying an already prepared soil mix, I tried to make a more organic mix on my own. I mixed organic topsoil, mushroom compost, and organic gardening soil. I will say this process took a lot longer than anticipated, but hopefully in the end, it will be worth it, and my perennials will grow back year after year. Knowing that May is here, I wanted to hang up my hummingbird feeder. I made my homemade hummingbird food and hung up the feeder.  Now, the waiting begins in hopes that the two hummingbirds from last year return again soon! I’ve always wanted a space that I could create with flowers that would attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Today, I planted a butterfly bush, bee balm, bearded tongue penstemon, two types of salvia, english daisies, and blonde platinum lavender. Also, pineapple sage, mint julep mint, pesto basil, and rosemary to start off my herb garden. After the outdoor gardening, I spent some more time planting several seeds that I had from packets. I’ll be anxious to see what grows, since I tried planting many things that I’ve never tried before. You can never have too many plants or flowers, and I can’t wait to add more beauty to my garden throughout summer! Have a great 1st day of May everyone! 

Here is just the initial start of my garden…

My Secret Garden

As summer comes to an end, one thing that I was quite passionate about was my garden and my flowers.  This is a place where I would not think, but just take in the beauty of each delicate plant.  I found a sense of peace and pride watching the beautifully colored blooms, vegetables, and herbs grow throughout the summer.  Their vibrant colors could brighten any dull day.  The gentle breeze brushing through the air brought a sense of calmness, and watching the bees pollinate the flowers provided me with happiness and left me with a smile.

Throughout the summer, I had two loyal hummingbirds that would make an appearance daily.  Seeing them fluttering around the feeder was an added bonus to the day!  I will share my hummingbird sugar water recipe with you that I used in my hummingbird feeder to attract them.

In addition to the beauty of my plants, hanging birdfeeders and windchimes were the perfect accents to create some fun to my backyard environment.  The animals can be quite entertaining.  We were fortunate here in PA to have a beautiful summer, but I am more than ready to move on to my favorite season fall!

Sugar Water Recipe for Hummingbirds

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  1. In a pot, add 4 cups of water.
  2. Heat the water to a slight boil.
  3. Take the pot off of the burner and add the 1 cup of sugar.
  4. Stir the sugar and let the sugar water cool before pouring it into the hummingbird feeder.

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(Look very closely to see the hummingbird!)