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  • Jenny Hill

Want to DIY? These Workshops Can Help

For the 18th Annual Back to Basics, there are more than 45 workshops on a wide variety of topics. From Zero Waste to Gardening to Clean Energy, you can get your sustainability questions answered and learn some amazing new things. See the full line-up here. Over the next few weeks, blog posts will explore the workshops in more depth.  

This week we will explore the workshops on gardening, agriculture, and DIY topics. One of the most appealing aspects of Back to Basics is its depth of workshop presenters: from academicians to experts who work for non-profits or operate their own business to people who are passionate about sharing their hobbies, there is a myriad of approaches and styles which can instill inspiration, regardless of your background.

Planning a Sustainable & Productive Garden, with Laura Mendoza, owner of Great Roots LLC, is a great fit for people who are interested in using sustainable techniques to produce vegetables. She has a particular focus on working in small spaces. “People might be surprised to learn how some crops don't get along, while others can benefit from being planted side by side,” says Mendoza.

Jim Etzel, owner of Earth Is Our Home Environmental Solutions wants you to know you do not need to apply chemical fertilizers to have gardening success.  “I want to guide people toward a connection to nature through growing plants and creating habitats,” says Etzel. His workshop  Soil Health for Any Grower will focus on healthy soil systems for growing healthy food and creating healthy habitats.

Three other garden and homesteading workshops are especially for beginners: Saving Open Pollinated Seeds in the North with Zachary Paige of North Circle Seeds; Getting Started with Chickens with Amanda Montague, Bee’n Happy Farms & Dayle Shimek; and Beekeeping 101 with Daniel Harrel, Minnesota Hobby Beekeepers Association.

An especially timely topic, Jumping Worms, will now be offered as a virtual workshop. Please note this is an update from the printed Back to Basics brochure: Here is the revised workshop information:

S15. Jumping Worms in Minnesota: What to Know About These Emerging Species - Laura Van Riper, Terrestrial Invasive Species Program Coordinator, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Jumping worms are new to Minnesota. They eat mulch & strip vital nutrients from the topsoil. This makes it hard for plants to grow & increases erosion. Learn about the impacts of jumping worms, how to identify jumping worms, known current distribution, actions you can take & research & regulatory updates. 

Not a hands-on person? Knowledge is still power, so you may find the workshop Regenerative Protein: The What, Why, & How of Buying Meat with Dr. Anna Cates from the University of Minnesota invaluable as a consumer. Find out how what you choose as a protein source in your diet plays a role in your health and in your environmental footprint. This Happy Dancing Turtle blog post outlines some of the issues.

A small outdoor building with a lean-to

For those who are hands-on and have grown/preserved/created things that benefit from long-term storage, the workshop Earthship-style Root Cellar Creation will follow a real-life local project that used alternative building methods using recycled and repurposed materials. Douglas Weiss of Balsam Moon Preserve oversaw the project and says “I look forward to offering this workshop because it applies new simple, sustainable methods to build a time-honored structure for energy-free food storage.”

DIY energy saving–and warm feet–are two goals of the workshop Hydronics 101: In-Floor Heating with Ryan Hunt, HUG Hydronics.

Three gold-colored bars of soap in a stack

See a demonstration of a time-honored craft in Intro to Blacksmithing Volume 2: Unfinished Business with Doug LaBorde of Signature Blacksmithing LLC. Another time-honored craft will be demonstrated in Basics of Soapmaking with Debby Flowers of Ole Lake Farm. “Making soap is not as hard as you might think, but it is important to be safe,” says Flowers. Participants will leave with a soap sample.

Clean is a theme for Happy Healthy Home, a workshop with Christine Jones of Pure Soap Flake Company. Instead of soap, however, the focus will be on essential oil of orange. “This is an ideal workshop for people who want a more natural home,” says Jones.

Find registration information here. Registration has been brisk and several workshops already have waitlists. Find the schedule for the whole day and more details here:


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