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Mother Earth News Fair is Sept. 20-22 at Seven Springs

| Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

The public will have the chance to learn more about sustainable living at the 4th annual Mother Earth News Fair to be held Sept. 20-22 at Seven Springs Mountain Resort.

“Seven Springs is honored to host this event,” Seven Springs chief executive officer Eric Mauck said.

“It is a perfect fit, as it echoes our commitment to developing sustainable, forward-thinking practices, and our responsibility to conserve our natural resources,” he said.

The event is presented by Ogden Publications' “Mother Earth News,” the largest and longest-running publication about self-sufficient lifestyles.

“Last year, we had 17,000 attend the fair. Our attendees run the gamut, from (those in need of) encouragement to plant their first tomato plants, to more experienced folks who want to build a completely off-the-grid homestead,” said Brandy Ernzen, brand manager for Ogden Publications.

“Some want to save money, while others are concerned about the environmental impact of their lifestyle,” she said.

Visitors can attend more than 200 hands-on workshops that cover organic gardening, cooking and food preservation, renewable energy, homesteading, small-scale livestock, green building and remodeling, natural health and green transportation.

“I think attendees recognize that the fair is a place for everyone on the path to sustainability and self-reliance to explore their options, gain confidence in their own skills, and network with others interested in the same topics,” Ernzen said.

Local and national experts on sustainable and rural lifestyles will lead the sessions.

Candy DeBerry, an associate professor of biology at Washington and Jefferson College will be speaking at the event for the third consecutive year.

DeBerry said she is passionate about ecological gardening for biodiversity, and regularly speaks to community organizations about native plants, environmentally friendly gardening and creating habitats for wildlife.

She will conduct the presentation, titled “Attracting Pollinators to your Garden,” which will focus on how to use native plants to help attract bees, flies and other insects to one's garden by providing nectar, pollen and nesting sites in gardens.

While most people know that bees help to pollinate plants, DeBerry said other animals, including wasps, butterflies, moths, beetles, flies, hummingbirds and bats also are important pollinators, she said.

“Even if someone lives in an apartment they can put out a window box that supports pollinators,” DeBerry said. “Everyone, by choosing what they plant carefully, can attract and support these beautiful critters that we depend on, as well.”

Another returning presenter is Barbara Pleasant of Floyd, Va., who is one of the most experienced garden editors at “Mother Earth News.”

Pleasant said she has studied and practiced organic vegetable gardening for 30 years.

Her popular “Garden Know-How” column in the publication recently won a Silver Award of Achievement from the Garden Writers Association, she said.

It will be Pleasant's fourth time speaking at the event.

She will present four different lectures including “Organic Gardening for Newbies – Avoiding Beginner Mistakes.”

Pleasant said that many people contact her for advice who have made gardening mistakes due to her book on starting a vegetable garden, her column in and her website.

She said the lecture will focus on some of the most common mistakes people make. Pleasant will also be presenting what she called one of her favorite lectures, “Compost Your Way to Better Soil.”

“It's an ever-changing world so the talk is not the same each year especially with more biodegradable packaging coming out each year,” she said.

Pleasant will also conducting two more lectures — “Getting Started in Organic Vegetable Gardening” and “Managing Your Homegrown Food Supply.”

Ernzen said the entire event is for all ages.

“We are family-friendly, with children (ages) 17 and under getting in free all weekend,” she said. “It's common to see three generations attend the fair together, even though they might be interested in completely different topics from one another.”

Children have their own stage with hands-on activities, which include learning about chickens, vermicomposting (composting with worms), starting garden seeds, and dyeing alpaca fiber.

“We also have quite a few alpacas and heritage-breed livestock on-site, and they're quite popular with both children and adults, since they don't look like standard county-fair type breeds,” Ernzen said.

In addition, the fair will host an heirloom seed display, vendor and livestock demonstrations, a green shopping pavilion, and local and organic food options.

The fair is open noon to 7 p.m. Sept. 20; 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sept. 21, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 22.

The Seven Springs Mother Earth News Fair is sponsored by Botanical Interests, Brinsea, Earthineer, Meyer Hatchery and Mockingbird Meadows.

To purchase advance tickets, go to or call toll-free at 800-234-3368.

Linda Harkcom is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.