The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Acres USA conference

Acres ConferenceMark and I thoroughly enjoyed attending the Organic Grower's School in Asheville this spring, but we hadn't planned to seek out any similar experiences.  When a flyer for the Acres USA Conference showed up in our mailbox, I was all set to shred it for mulch, but Mark noticed that the conference was being held just an hour away from his Mom's house (and she is overdue for a visit.)

I was still dubious until I noticed that Harvey Ussery would be presenting.  Even though Harvey Ussery isn't very well known, I consider him the best homesteading author writing today.  I've just about given up on magazines, but every now and then I'll open Mother Earth News or Backyard Poultry Magazine and flip through the table of contents.  My eye zips past repeats of the same old information and then invariably lands on one article worth reading.  Every single time this has happened for the last two years, the author of the article has been Harvey Ussery.

Radionics"That's nice," said Mark politely when I enthused about the possibility of hearing Harvey Ussery speak.  "Wait, what does that say?"  I'd turned the page to the preconferences, and Mark was suddenly riveted.  "Radionics?!  That's the first time I've ever seen a course about radionics at a mainstream conference!"  Suddenly interested, Mark reminded me that the accountant we visited this spring chastised us for not writing as much as we should off on our taxes --- this conference would definitely count as a tax deduction.

So who else will be attending?  For those of you with more mainstream tastes, the conference has Joel Salatin, Francis Thicke, and Gray Graham as keynote speakers and a huge array of lecturers and workshop leaders.  They'll be showing the films Farmageddon, American Meat, and Queen of the Sun, and attendees will get a chance to pick the brains of "world-class teachers/consultants/farmers" at consulting halls.  Maybe we'll see you there?

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Marks's Mom is lucky to have a visit. I had to visit the website to find it is in Ohio. I had thought his Mom lived in Kentucky and was jealous.
Comment by Maggie Sun Oct 2 12:32:21 2011
Maggie --- The confusion is understandable since Rose Nell comes down to Kentucky now and then. I wish we could just drop everything and visit you, but we'll see you at Thanksgiving presumably!
Comment by anna Sun Oct 2 13:35:48 2011

They are peddling way to much quackery on their site for that, IMO. If you browse through their book section you'll find texts on bogus sciences like homeopathy, biodynamics, dowsing and "subtle energies" (whatever those may be?!).

The human health section alone contains "gems" that advocate e.g. chelation therapy (commonly used to remove heavy metals from the body) for a host of other ailments, or the regular ingestion of hydrogen peroxide.

It does make me wonder about the quality of their total portfolio.

Comment by Roland_Smith Sun Oct 2 18:59:46 2011
Semi-mainstream, I guess I should have said. :-) In addition to all of the non-scientific stuff, they have a huge range of books by really well respected agriculture gurus like Joel Salatin. And they certainly have a lineup of speakers at the conference that I can't complain about, even if Mark ends up learning about dowsing while I'm taking in permaculture. It's the combination of the non-scientific and the scientific that make the organization so fascinating, really.
Comment by anna Sun Oct 2 19:48:39 2011
Hey, our phone coop uses dowsers to locate their buried lines. I dowsed a well at a house I built. I was a skeptic until the forked branch almost pulled out of my hand.
Comment by Errol Sun Oct 2 20:47:36 2011

Is biodynamics mainstream? Or, more importantly, do biodynamic farms get better results? The principles of a farm as closed system seem reasonably sound to my untrained mind...I don't know much about the potions that farmers apparently use.
Whenever I hear old farming traditions doubted, I think of places in Asia that have been feeding lots of people on not alot of land, for hundreds of years -- without anything that didn't exist the immediate environment. I'm sure there were droughts, floods, years when bugs prevailed, but in general...biodynamics works, non?

Comment by J Sun Oct 2 21:58:09 2011

Daddy --- That's fascinating! I guess that does make dowsing relatively mainstream. I have to admit, I'm still pretty dubious... :-)

J --- Biodynamics is one of the topics I mean to research one of these days. I honestly don't know enough about it to say whether it makes scientific (if counterculture) sense or whether it's New Age woo woo. :-) I'm also not sure if the techniques recorded in books like Farmers of Forty Centuries would count as biodynamics, or whether it's just traditional organic gardening. So...I don't know? :-)

Comment by anna Mon Oct 3 07:31:31 2011

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