A DIY smorgasbord

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

I’m proud of the year’s supply of garden-grown garlic bulbs hanging in our shed and the servings of beefsteak tomato sauce stacked in the freezer, but if the apocalypse ever came knocking, our household would still be sorely lacking when it came to storing up supplies for long-term survival.

And while the focus of the seventh annual Cascadia SkillShare & Barter Faire taking place Sept. 15-16 at a scenic locale near Lake Whatcom isn’t necessarily on how to emerge unscathed from the end of the modern world, many of the workshops and events that will be taking place during the two-day festival are indeed designed toward the concepts of self-reliance and resilience.

Food-wise, community presenters from both Whatcom and Skagit counties will be focusing on everything from seed saving to making fruit wines, dehydrating, water bath canning, mason bee harvesting, cider pressing, growing mushrooms, fermentation, pickling, microclimate storage, freezing, chicken and duck care, and edible and medicinal plants.

Sheep shearing, creating medicinal salves, naturopathic medicine, making a DIY solar home heater from trash, permaculture, blending essential oils for pain and anxiety relief, using local herbs from the forest for first aid purposes, and holistic self-assessment are other offerings on the DIY smorgasbord designed to promote both new-fangled and old-timey skills.

For those who’ve already put their know-how to use, the bartering faction of the event will allow you to share what you’ve got with others—whether it’s braids of garlic, stewed plums, backyard eggs, arts and crafts, or tools and building materials—while taking home other things you need or want.

“I traded my excess organic meat for homemade jam, jewelry, yarn, dried fruit and more last year,” SkillShare kitchen coordinator Naomi Siegel says. “I just made a few dozen jars or rhubarb jam to bring this year.”

Because organizers see bartering as a great way to meet people and perhaps get some treasures with no (or little) money passing hands, a dedicated period is scheduled at the end of the day to allow everyone time to get in the barter zone without having to miss out on a workshop or other happening. Barterers can rent a table for an extra fee, or if their supplies are limited, simply roam around the zone with their wares.

Food vendors, a beer garden, a fire pit sing-along area and numerous musicians will also help make the faire one to remember. As for me, I’m wondering what Floyd Garner’s “Preparing to Prepare for Disaster” workshop is all about—you know, in case it helps me conquer the apocalypse.

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