Thursday, April 17, 2014

Mark your calendars!

The Third Annual Mid-America Homesteading Conference will be held Saturday, August 30, at Joliet Junior College. This is again Labor Day weekend. We are currently working on getting speakers and putting together the schedule. Stay tuned for more details soon!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

It's a wrap!

The 2013 Mid-America Homesteading Conference is now history, and according to the evaluation forms, informal conversations, and Facebook comments, it was a success. Speakers and attendees (who came from as far away as Louisiana) enthusiastically shared information with one another. Thanks to the generosity of local Big R and Tractor Supply stores, as well as Baker's Creek Heirloom Seeds, a few lucky attendees also took home some cool prizes.

The DIY track was popular, as everyone learned about canning, soapmaking, making sorghum syrup, and more. We were excited to have a camera that gave every attendee an up-close-and-personal view of exactly what was being demonstrated. Here is a picture from the session on making mozzarella --

Many thanks to our volunteers Karen and Jane, who did everything from registration to making last-minute copies and helping with set-up and break-down.

Plans are already underway for 2014, so if you have suggestions for changes, as well as speakers and topics, be sure to let us know by commenting below!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Last minute details!

In less than two days, we'll all be at the conference! Here are a few things you might want to know ...

  • We will be providing a continental breakfast, lunch, and afternoon snacks.

  • If you haven't registered by tonight (Thursday night), we ask that you wait and pay when you arrive at the conference Saturday morning. We can take cash and credit cards. 

  • To make it easier for you to find the conference, we will have signs on Houbolt Road and on campus. The conference center will be on your immediate left as soon as you walk into T building.

  • Remember to bring your extra seeds for the seed swap!

And another great bonus for all attendees -- Mother Earth News magazine sent us enough copies of the August/September issue for all attendees to get one!

If any questions come up for you, just ask in the "Comments" below! We're looking forward to meeting everyone and learning a ton!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Swag and freebies and registration

Although we think that the great variety of speakers and information is the best reason to attend the Homesteading Conference, it is just a bonus that we are getting samples and raffle items for attendees. Baker's Creek has donated a variety of seed packets so that everyone can pick their favorite or perhaps something completely new that you've always wanted to try. Food Saver has donated the coolest little bag openers so that you no longer have to stab your vacuum-sealed freezer bags with a knife to open them.

Those who attend the gardening sessions will have the opportunity to win a variety of prizes such as gardening gloves from Ryobi or a copy of Heirloom Gardener magazine. And we are continuing to work on getting more donations of great products for you to sample.

Don't forget! The deadline for the early bird registration discount of $75 is tonight at midnight, so register now to save $14.

If you were planning to attend Sunday's post-conference Goat Workshop, there are only two spots still available as I type! If you attempt to sign up and the workshop is full, Paypal will not let you know until you attempt to pay, at which point it will tell you that the inventory is at 0.

If you happen to have visited the Contact page on our website in the last few days, you may have seen nothing on the page! It came to our attention yesterday that our contact form had disappeared. Apparently the company that made the form has disappeared from the planet, and their forms disappeared from the Web. We now have a brand new form on that page so you can contact us privately. But as always, you are also welcome to comment on each of our posts on here or on our Facebook page.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Early bird deadline approaching

The deadline for the early bird registration discounted price of $75 is Wednesday, July 31, which is only one week away. On August 1, the price will go up to $89. Click here to register now.

Your registration includes admittance to six, one-hour sessions throughout the day. During each hour, you'll have the opportunity to choose between three different tracks: livestock, gardening, and do-it-yourself. In the livestock track we'll be covering everything from bees to cattle. In the gardening sessions you'll go beyond the basics to discover what you need to know for successfully growing your own produce, such as companion planting, composting, pollinators, and extending the growing season. And the do-it-yourself demonstrations will include soapmaking, canning, and making mozzarella. Click here to check out the complete schedule.

We're also providing morning snacks, lunch, and afternoon snacks. If you prefer a vegetarian lunch, be sure to put that in the comment section of the registration.

And don't forget about the seed swap we're hosting this year. Bring your extra seeds to share with other attendees!

The room block and website conference discount at the Hampton Inn also expires on August 1. After the first, you will still be able to get the discount if rooms are available, but you will have to call the hotel directly. Click here to go the Hampton website and make your hotel reservations now.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Participate in our seed swap!

 Rainbow Inca Corn

If you have more seeds than you can use or if you just want to share a few, there will be a seed swap at this year's conference. We will have a table set up where you can leave your seeds and pick up seeds that have been left by others. You can bring seeds in their original packets, or if you'd like to spread the joy, you can put a few in envelopes that are clearly marked with the variety and the year they were harvested, as well as any notes you want to include on growing, harvesting, or other tips for success.

Want to know more about seeds swaps? Check out this article. If you have any other questions, don't hesitate to ask in the comment section below!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Schedule is up! And registration is open!

The 2013 schedule has been posted, and we have some exciting additions and changes to this year's conference. Several attendees last year suggested live demonstrations, so you will get to see the actual process of canning, soapmaking, and mozzarella making.

Cathy Lafrenz will be doing a two-hour canning demonstration first thing in the morning. Cathy is a veteran canner and canning instructor, and she said it couldn't be done in an hour, so this session will span the same time as two other sessions. After lunch, Michael Boehle will show attendees how to make mozzarella cheese followed by Donna O'Shaughnessy doing a soapmaking demo.

This year we have also allowed 15 minutes between sessions instead of 10 because you asked for it. With only three rooms all next to each other, we didn't think you would need more than 10 minutes last year, but we understand the desire to network more and check out the books in the conference bookstore.

The Hampton Inn across the street from the college is once again giving us $20 off the regular room rate, and as with all Hamptons, your stay includes a hot breakfast. Knowing that our conference spans a holiday weekend, the rate is good from Friday night through Monday morning, in case you want to be in town for the whole weekend.

We are very excited about this year's schedule and speakers and are looking forward to meeting everyone on August 31!