Sunday morning we headed back to the Pennsylvania Renewable Energy & Sustainable Living Festival (yes, we missed church) and got there as it was opening. Marlene had signed up for a 2.5 hour women’s workshop on basic photovoltaics. The boys and I went to a Vegetable Oil Fuel Shop Talk with Meghan Murphy from Ithaca Biodiesel.
The primary focus of the festival was alternative energy but there were also other seminars. For example, I sat in on two gardening presentations given by Lee Reich. Both were informative and inspiring.
The first seminar, titled My Weedless Garden is described as follows:
This slide lecture will introduce a novel way for caring for the soil, one that results in fewer weeds. My "weedless gardening" system is an integrated system that involves minimizing soil disturbance, avoiding soil compaction, maintaining a soil cover, and pinpointing watering. "Weedless gardening" takes care of the soil beneath trees and shrubs as well as in flower and vegetable gardens, and I'll show how I apply it to my new plantings as well as to maintain existing plantings. By emulating rather than fighting Mother Nature, plants become healthier and weed problems are minimized. The principles and practices are rooted in the latest agricultural research and also could be beneficially applied to sustainable, small farm systems.
Here’s a description of the other seminar, No Spray Fruits:
If you want to grow fruits, but do not want to spray, these are the ones to grow and this is how to grow them. In addition to some familiar fruits such as raspberries and blueberries, a few lesser known fruits -- including pawpaw, Nanking cherry, hardy kiwifruit, and medlar -- also are delectable and have no significant pest problems. This presentation will cover site selection, varieties, and, where necessary, pruning.
(I got my first ever taste of a pawpaw fruit after the "No Spray Fruits" seminar)
I have to say that the festival was not quite as good as I had hoped, but we still had a good time and learned a lot. One thing everyone in my family noticed is that people in PA seem more friendly than people in NY. Maybe it’s just people who attend sustainable energy festivals. And though there were some "hippie" types there, most folks were downright ordinary-looking, kind of like me. :-)
Speaking of hippies, we sat in on a 30-minute documentary movie titled, Living The Good Life. It was a film made in the 1970’s about Scott and Helen Nearing. The Nearings were not hippies but the back-to-the-land movement of the 1970s (which attracted a lot of hippies) was fueled to a degree by the couple’s 1954 book, Living The Good Life.
The Nearings worked hard, lived simply, and grew their own food. Principled and idealistic, yet pragmatic, Scott and Helen were, in many ways, exemplary agrarians. They were, however, not Christian agrarians.
Scott was 93 years old in the movie. He was still working hard in the outdoors, “living the good life” as was Helen at, I believe, 72. Near the end of the film Helen tells how someone once commented that when Scott passes, he will probably just say “hello” to Jesus and get right to work. The she tells of Scott’s reply that he would probably not say “hello” to Jesus and just go to work.
The quip met with laughter from many in the viewing audience, but I didn’t see the humor. It was a haughty comment, made by a mere man who, seven years later, would die and find himself in the presence of Jesus, the same Jesus who stands at the right hand of the Father, with all power and all authority in heaven and earth. No, I did not think the comment funny. I thought it foolish, and I felt a pang of sadness for Scott Nearing.
As I work at living the good life here with my family on this little spot of land, I do so with a full awareness that everything I enjoy in this life is a blessing from God. His grace and mercy sustain me. And were it not for Jesus Christ, there would be no good life.
We left the festival early in the afternoon and drove south, to Lancaster County.
(to be continued.....)
Click HERE to read Part 3 of this series.