The tomatoes are canned, the last nail hammered into the new coop, and the heat of summer has begun to fade. With fall’s seasonal pause comes an opportunity to gain new skills, revel in some inspiration for a big project (root cellar anyone?), and meet like-minded souls courtesy of festivals and events with a homesteading focus. Here’s a staff-curated list of the most notable.
1. Tour De Coop
Date: September 14
Location: Silicon Valley, Calif.
The Tour De Coop self-guided bike tour began in 2011 as a way to connect neighbors and deliver a little inspiration to the chicken curious with 11 coops and 20 miles of tours. But it quickly grew to include 230 miles and 10 tours along with gardens, beehives, and some of the most fetching urban homesteads. Participants register, receive a free, printable map, and then craft a path for their tour, which lasts from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. On the tour, participants can explore, learn, and make purchases from the locations (so attach your bike basket to ensure you have space for your goods).
2. Adirondack Rural Skills and Homesteading Festival
Date: September 28-29
Location: Paul Smith’s College; Paul Smiths, N.Y.
With the Adirondack Mountains as its backdrop, the Eighth Annual Adirondack Rural Skills and Homesteading Festival, hosted by Paul Smith’s College, features local craftspeople and homesteaders and a focus on educational demonstrations that highlight rural skills. Thanks to the college’s relationship with the surrounding community and its good fortune to be located in the nation’s largest publicly protected area in the contiguous United States, the festival attracts the region’s finest craftsmen and homesteaders. “Paul Smith’s College is very rooted in the local community. Homesteading is a big part of the lifestyle in the Adirondacks. We’ve never lost the hometown traditions,” says Shannon Osborne, chief marketing officer of Paul Smith’s College.
3. Southeast Regional Biodynamic Conference
Date: October 4-6
Location: Red Boiling Springs, Tenn.
Cost: $100 for the early bird fee
The creator of the Southeast Regional Biodynamic Conference, Jeff Poppen, is known as the Barefoot Farmer and owner of one of Tennessee’s oldest and largest farms, which uses the biodynamic method, one of the oldest organic methods of farming. This practice seeks a holistic, ecological, and ethical approach to farming and relies on the work of scientist and philosopher Rudolf Steiner who advocated for the integration of the spirit of nature to scientific understanding. For 33 years, the conference provides a three-day experience that focuses on education and fun. Over the weekend, Poppen educates attendees about the method, and attendees eat chef-prepared meals from the crops grown through the method, enjoy a barn dance featuring live music, and can camp overnight on the 250-acre biodynamic farm.
4. Homesteaders of America Conference and Fair
Date: October 11-12
Location: Warren County Fairgrounds Front Royal, Va.
Cost: $30-$50/person, $90/2 people
The Homesteaders of America Conference and Fair wears its homesteader sensibility on its sleeve. That focus allows those who are interested or part of the community to bond and connect with farmers, craftsmen, and vendors from places such as Tennessee, Maryland, Virginia, and New York. Expect to find handmade, wooden kitchen utensils from the Riverwood Trading Company, Knox Stoves, and social-media stars such as Justin Rhodes, a homesteader and YouTuber (The Justin Rhodes Show) with 475K followers. Rhodes offers a class on permaculture design and gardening with chickens, which provides ideas on how to landscape your garden using an ecosystem based on chickens. Before the conference begins, consider attending the Hands-On-Workshop on Thursday, October 10, which offers lessons on blacksmithing, raising domesticated livestock, and repelling predators from your homestead. Amy Fewell, founder of Homesteaders of America, says that for those who cannot attend, a membership ($35) allows individuals to access conference speaker lectures online. “It’s a year-long membership,” Fewell adds, “and as long as they have a membership, they can go back and watch the videos from this year’s event.”
5. Homestead Fair
Date: November 29-30
Location: Waco, Texas
Homestead Heritage is a Christian community focused on living an off-the-grid, agrarian lifestyle. Members created the Homestead Fair 32 years ago for their family and friends to get together and celebrate the end of harvesting crops. Today, the same spirit lives on, but the size of the fair continues to grow. Last year, 20,000 people attended, and this year fairgoers will get the chance to make cheese, perform yoga, learn how to train a horse, receive 101 tips on how to start a family homestead, and enjoy music from Homestead Heritage’s own Heritage Choir.