From goat training to bee keeping

Where can one learn how to train goats, practice organic insect control and stage a natural, do-it-yourself burial all in the same day? There will be ample opportunity to do so at the fourth annual True Nature Country Fair, presented by the Organic Growers School on Sept. 25 and 26. There, attendees can learn about a wide array of funky and useful topics at nearly 50 workshops covering facets of sustainable living from raising cows to Ayurvedic healing.

For those with green thumbs — or those wishing to cultivate one, the gardening element will be strong says program manager Karen Vizzina.

"The premiere attraction at the fair is called 'in the garden,' and it has a lot to do with the things that a gardener would do in the fall," she says. "We focus on greenhouse building, how you can maintain a crop through the fall and winter, as well as seed savings."

Though one might think that building a greenhouse is solely for the well-heeled and savvy gardener, Vizzina indicates otherwise. Using materials like plastic and piping, a hoop-house style greenhouse large enough to sustain a family can be erected in a short amount of time — for approximately $150 in parts.

What of the goat training? Vizzina says that teenager Miranda Norlin, a homeschool student who plans to become a vet, will teach some of the skills she uses to train her own goats to help with chores on her family's property — with, according to the program — a bit of goat psychology thrown in.

Also on the agenda is a crash course in "Backyard Economics," taught by permaculture expert Chuck Marsh. He'll teach you how to integrate edible and medicinal plants into the home landscape.

And speaking of permacuture, Zev Friedman will be on hand to talk about his Forest Cuisine project, a fascinating approach to raising native edible plants that also help to heal our native ecology.

Looking to finally get into composting for a healthy garden? That's there, too. Want to raise chickens on your property while avoiding pissing off the neighbors? Yep, there's someone at the fair to show you how to be a lawful leghorn keeper.

Vizzina says that, while already accomplished do-it-yourselfers will find plenty to hone their skills. She also notes that novices to the arts of gardening and sustainability methods will find inspiration to jump right into projects that might have seemed beyond their reach.

Part of the focus of the fair, she says, is to "celebrate a life in connection with the earth. Even if you simply grow a tomato or have a bed that gives you fresh lettuce and spinach over the winter, you're brought back to that connection," she says.

The True Country Fair will be held at the Big Ivy Community Center in Barnardsville, 20 miles north of Asheville. Daily admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children, with an additional fee of $5 per class. For more information, visit

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