• Jenny Hill

Community Connections and Environmental Education Highlights of Spring Fair

Since its beginning over 15 years ago (!) Back to Basics has been about bringing people together to learn about resilient and sustainable living. We are thrilled to have an outdoor venue, Lakes Music & Events Park, this year to bring together more than 40 vendors. In this post, we are going to highlight some of the vendors who offer information, connections and education.


Resiliency and Community Connections


Faith in Action of Cass County is a non-profit organization whose mission is to “connect local resources to meet community needs.” If you are in need of assistance with transportation, chores, home repair, caregiver support, meal delivery, Faith in Action will match you up with a volunteer or help you make connections with community resources.


If you are someone who would like to volunteer to provide any of the services listed above, Faith in Action can help you find opportunities. But here is the kicker: if you have an urge to volunteer, but DO NOT have the interest/ability to fulfill any of the “usual” volunteer duties, talking to someone from FIA could lead to an all-new service or type of support.


Theresa Eclov, executive director of Faith in Action says: “We help match them with people who need that kind of help. Want to tailor the volunteer experience to what people want to do. EVERYONE has something to share–finding the niche–even clients volunteer. Matching people up keeps them connected to the community (i.e. resilient)--so many folks in rural areas are so giving, but these days questions/cautions about liability may make them hesitant.” Eclov describes FIA as the connector, providing opportunities for volunteers and people who need assistance. At the FIA booth at the Spring Fair expect to find “good information and good conversation about opportunities to help one another.”


The Cass County Falls Prevention Task Force will have information about three important programs in Cass County: the Fall Prevention program, Dementia related services and Cycling Without Age. Cycling Without Age is a program that brings a Trishaw (battery powered bike) to various communities in the county. The Trishaw, piloted by a volunteer driver, can comfortably seat two disabled individuals, giving them an outdoor “bike” ride. The Cycling Without Age program is supported by local organizations, including the Walker Lions. Stop by the Cass County Falls Prevention Task Force booth to learn more!


The Lakes Music & Events Park, where the Spring Fair is being held, is home to the Lakes Bluegrass Festival which will take place August 24 - 28, 2022. For lineup and ticket information, as well as to learn about volunteer opportunities, visit their booth.



Sustainability and Environmental Education


Several organizations offer specific, timely and targeted-to-our-area information about protecting our water and land resources. In other words: how to live, grow food, and recreate sustainably.


If you visit the Pine River Watershed Alliance’s booth, you can observe a 3-D interactive watershed model. Information on shoreline erosion, pollinator planting, stormwater and just, overall, being a better steward of land/living space will be available as well as friendly staff/volunteers to answer your questions.


Northern Waters Land Trust will have staff and information, bringing information on land conservation to preserve water quality with a watershed focus. Their service area includes the watersheds of Leech Lake, Mississippi Headwaters, Crow Wing River, Pine River, Mississippi River Grand Rapids and Mississippi River Brainerd.


Cass County Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Lake Technician Dana Gutzman wants us to remember that “prevention is key in the invasive species fight. Once AIS is in a lake, it can lead to whole lake ecology changes.” Using Zebra Mussels as an example, Gutzman details some common misconceptions. “Zebra Mussels make the lake more clear–why don’t we want that?” She points out Zebra Mussels eat zooplankton which baby fish usually eat. Clearer lakes impact vegetation growth–more light now (clearer) in deeper waters–equals an unintended consequence and a cascade of negative effects. At their Spring Fair booth which Gutzman will be staffing, you will find a game for adults/kids that helps identify where AIS may be found.”


Sustainable Farming Association - Central Chapter will offer a variety of information on soil health for conventional & sustainable farmers, educators, ag professionals and community members. In addition, you can learn more about their events such as the Minnesota Garlic Festival, the Harvest Festival, and the Minnesota Salsa Fest.


To learn even more about soil health and the importance of cover crops, you’ll want to take in two of the mini-workshops happening at noon and 1 p.m. At noon HDT Conservation Technician, Jim Chamberlin, will be teaming up with University of Minnesota Extension State Soil Health Specialist, Anna Cates, to explain how you can promote soil health in your garden or on your farm.

Following at 1:00 p.m., Natural Resources Conservation Service Conservationist, John Brezinka, will be demonstrating the rainfall simulator which compares infiltration and runoff from similar soils under different management scenarios. The rainfall simulator replicates 1” of rain in a short period of time and is an excellent visual demonstration on the power of soil to absorb, store and protect our valuable water resources. If you farm, garden, or eat food, you don’t want to miss this!


The Clean Energy Resource Teams offers a “pragmatic, cooperative, unbiased approach” to meeting people wherever they are on their clean energy journey. At their booth you will find information on energy efficiency, renewable energy and EVs (electric vehicles). Their resources cover both homes and businesses.

Central Minnesota CERTS is teaming up with Barb Mann and Doug Weiss of Balsam Moon Preserve in Pine River, who will have their 2019 Chevy Bolt EV on-site at the Spring Fair. Balsam Moon Preserve offers classes and activities focused on sustainability, simplicity and peace.


Thirty more vendors round out the line-up that you will find at the Back to Basics Outdoor Spring Fair on Saturday, May 21 from 10-3. In addition, you can take part in free mini-workshops and family activities. See the full schedule here. Hope you can join us!