As a mom with a full-time start-up job, my desire to live off the land is largely aspirational. I do keep six lovely chickens, who are remarkably easy to care for, and have a small garden which I tend to neglect (the chickens enjoy it, though!) But there’s so much more I could do, and it’s good to have goals. Good thing the East Bay Mini Maker Faire will be there to inspire me, and everyone else, to become real urban homesteaders. Let’s take a look at some of these Makers.
First off, let’s talk about getting to the Mini Maker Faire. Farmers may drive big ole trucks, but urban homesteaders bike. Which is a good thing, because there’s not remotely enough car parking near the school to accommodate the crowds we’re expecting. Fortunately, the East Bay Bicycle Coalition will be there to take care of your bike during your visit. They have graciously offered to provide secure bike parking, and since they’ve done this before and know what they’re doing, it will be organized and efficient. Repeat after me: I WILL BIKE to the East Bay Mini Maker Faire.
Once your ride is in good hands, head on over to the Alameda County Beekeepers, to learn about the huge impact these tiny buzzing creatures have on our lives, and how they can be a part of your life. This is no nostalgic revival trend; this beekeeping group was founded in 1916 and has been operating since. Bees’ recent troubles — of the mysterious disappearance variety– have made beekeeping more popular lately, not just for honey fans but for gardeners and all plant-lovers who think that thing called pollination might be kind of important. Let the ACB show you what it takes to keep a swarm, and even what to do if you have an unwelcome hive in your yard (they’ll happily take them off your hands.)
Next up is my favorite. Mario Klip from Holland Hen Houses is going to bring a few coops, and hopefully a few hens, and all of you Bay Area foodies who’ve been thinking about the joys of fresh-from-the-nesting-box eggs can ask Mario everything you need to know about raising chickens. I can personally attest to fact that it’s cheaper to just buy your eggs at the supermarket, but that the moment you reach under your girl and feel that warm, hard, ovoid object, you will be so delighted you won’t care. Not only are the eggs great, but hens are hysterical pets. Mine insist on coming in the house and acting like they own the place. But don’t take chicken keeping lightly; do it by the book or you’re almost certain to face heartbreak. Come by and ask Mario how to do it right.
Next is a chance to learn from the youngest makers. The Kindergarten class at Park Day School will demonstrate how to make butter from cream but simply shaking the cream in a jam jar. They will have baguette slices for actually tasting the butter and jam jars for you to take some home with you. What could be sweeter, and more fun with your little one?
Speaking of jam jars, sweet, and fun, do we have the best jam-making teacher ever! Tim O’Reilly is famous as a computer book publisher, the CEO of the company that produces Maker Faire and MAKE magazine, and generally a convener of the geeks we like to watch, but he’s also famous for his jam and scones, which have been written up not only in Cooking for Geeks (which hit the New York Times bestseller list) but also in a Wired magazine profile. Tim is going to show us his secret to great jam in a demonstration workshop at noon on Sunday in the Magnolia building. He is bested only by his colleague Dale Dougherty, the father of the Make movement and head of the Make division at O’Reilly, who will be on hand to show us how to press your own apple cider. Dale’s cider demonstration is at 1 pm in the Magnolia building. Plan to come early for both of these; we have very limited seating.
So now your home makes its own honey, eggs, butter, jam and cider. Shouldn’t it capture its own water, too? Two fantastic Makers will be on hand to help with this one. The lovely folks at WaterWorks held a festival of water-wise strategies, and are bringing a few of the best exhibits, including a system for growing veggies on a small footprint, an all season rain-catcher/clothes-dryer/garden sculpture, and play-pump that lets kids bounce on a horse’s back and watch the pump work. To complement their work, Greywater Action will be on hand with a life sized greywater system, mini-water harvesting system, and a model composting toilet. Learn how these simple practices can transform your home water systems from wasting and polluting water, to conserving and protecting it. You’re really urban homesteading now!