Home sweet homestead: Urban Homesteading Fair sparks sustainability

The jumping off point: If you’re looking to grow your own food or make more sustainable home choices, The French Broad Food Co-op’s Urban Homesteading Fair can help you turn your home into a homestead. Photo courtesy of French Broad Co-op.

Want to add some chickens to your back yard, some fermentation to your kitchen or honey bees to your garden? Whether you have a sprawling lawn you hate to mow or a patch of grass in need of a purpose, the French Broad Food Co-op’s Urban Homesteading Fair has what you need to turn your home into a homestead.

“A lot of people are drawn here because there are likeminded folks who want to leave little trace on the earth, but still sustain themselves and their family and their community,” says Clare Schwartz, French Broad Co-op front end manager and outreach coordinator.

The Urban Homesteading Fair encourages people to go beyond just thinking about sustainability by giving them the tools they need to create change in their own lives. More than 30 vendors and educators will gather outside the co-op on Biltmore Ave. in downtown Asheville on Saturday, April 19 to offer fun and practical ways to be self-sufficient.

Several honeybee experts will be on hand to share the fundamentals of starting an apiary and ways to appreciate the role that bees play in our local ecosystem. There will also be information on how to raise poultry, generate alternative energy and integrate permaculture practices into a homesteading plan. For people who want to focus their efforts in the kitchen, local educators will share the basics of fermentation, growing mushrooms and making mead.

“It was a huge success last year and we’re just trying to make it bigger and better every year,” says Schwartz. The fair, now in its second year, will expand to the Build it Naturally parking lot next to the co-op, allowing for more vendors and some small livestock. Sacred Mountain Sanctuary will sponsor an interactive kids village so that children can have fun with sustainability while their parents pick up tips for bringing the concepts back home.

The fair reflects Asheville’s growing interest in homesteading and sustainable lifestyles, says Schwartz. “Every day there’s more people changing hobbies and careers and going into more self-sustaining lines of work,” she explains.

The Urban Homesteading Fair is a jumping off point for people who want to grow their own food, raise animals or make changes to their kitchen routines. It’s also a good old-fashioned block party. A chef’s tent will offer food and local beer while reggae band Dub Kartel performs classic dub rhythms. Traditional dancers will whirl through the crowd as neighbors gather together to share homesteading tips.

“The springtime here — when the leaves are all coming out and trees are all flowering — it just really reminds people why it’s so special to live here,” says Schwartz. “We wanted to create a forum to connect a lot of those people.”

French Broad Food Co-Op’s Urban Homesteading Fair will be held outdoors Saturday, April 19, from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. at 90 Biltmore Ave. frenchbroadfood.coop


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