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NWA Farm School and Homesteading Conference Coming To Bentonville Apr 15-20

A Note from the Organizer

The NWA Farm School and Homesteading Conference is coming to the Benton County Fairgrounds on Apr 15-20, featuring full-day intensives, workshops, and more for anyone interested in farming and homesteading.

Here’s a note from the Mechel Wall, the organizer and founder of the event.

What is all the Excitement About Homesteading?

What is a “Homesteader” and why does everyone want to be one?

The lessons learned in the Great Depression were a part of life in the 1940’s. Children still remembered hunger. The mantra of “use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without” was the principle everyone lived by. Years passed and people relaxed a little as more affluence spread. The 1950s rolled around and the economy grew, people had more disposable income, but parents still had that mantra ingrained in their DNA. Then it became “uncool” in the 70s to get your manicure ruined in the dirt, food was readily available at the grocery store and people were trading in the agricultural lifestyle for the city lifestyle. Parents didn’t see the need, nor did they have resources to teach those “old ways”. They were busy and had better things to do: travel, explore, and enjoy city life. As those grandparents from the Great Depression were laid to rest, so were those old ways.

Something has shifted.

Things that sounded like a great idea 50 years ago are proving to not be so great. Large metropolitan areas that traded farmland for cityscapes have become food deserts. People forgot that their food came from farms. Over the past decade or so a new trend in development has popped up all over the nation: Agrihoods. Neighborhoods with space for agricultural activities. Tiny footprint homes are all the rage, indoor plants are a big deal, backyard gardens are big business and homesteading is even bigger in terms of interest and involvement.

Families are leaving the city and heading back to the country. That just doesn’t work for everyone though. So, can you still live in a city and be a Homesteader? Of course!

Apartment dwellers can have small hydroponic gardens, windowsill sprouts, and microgreens year-round. Anyone with some patio space and sunlight can have a patio garden and even some fruit trees! Wait till you see what options there are now! Apartments and Condominiums can set aside space for community gardens and edible landscaping.

What about backyard gardeners, are they homesteading? Yep. If you’re providing any of your own food, produced in your own home/yard, you are in some measure “homesteading”.

So who is this NWA Farm School and Homesteading Conference for? EVERYONE! We have classes tailored to city dwellers, small backyard gardeners, Bella Vista Gardeners, small market gardeners, and even “Farm School classes” for full-fledged farmers.  

If there are any DIY wanna-be's who wish they had the skills to do basic repairs around their home or build simple structures at home, in the yard, or even on the farm: We have the solution. We have booked a full day for a hands-on, tool-wielding construction 101 class.

Have you seen the beautiful Barn Quilts around Benton County and wanted to have one on your home, business, or family farm barn? Yep, we have a class for that too.

Do you want to learn about herbs, house plants, raised beds, soil blocking, finding a balance in life, fencing, elderberries, drip watering systems, food storage, the barter system?

This is just a fraction of what we will be bringing to the Ozarks April 15-20 at the Benton County Fairgrounds.

We will have a Jr. Farm School for kids who want to learn about homesteading on their level while their parents are taking a deep dive. They’ll get to hug cows and baby goats, play with chicks, make things, learn things, and have their own tailored program.

We will have a Farm to Table on Thursday evening (ticketed event) and live music on Thursday and Friday evenings - free to everyone.  Food trucks will be on-site Thursday, Friday, and Saturday with a zero-waste goal for the event.

There is one class at the end of the event on Friday (no ticket required) for developers and builders. We will have a panel set up to discuss strategies that will facilitate leaving green space in developments, incorporating edibles into the landscape, the benefits of Agrihoods, and how to keep food production a part of life in every neighborhood. This will be Friday, April 19 in the Auditorium Building 1 from 5:00-5:30 and everyone can stay for some Food Truck food and live music on the lawn.

There are Homesteading Conferences popping up all over the country. Even Country Singer Rory Feek hosts a conference each year on his homestead in TN.  I attended that one 2 years ago and the cost was significant! We don’t need to travel across the country to be taught by the experts: we have them right here. They live here, they farm here, they teach here and we are going to learn from those who have boots on the ground and are living the lifestyle every day. Many of our classes will have a “hands-on” portion. This event is happening at the Benton County Fairgrounds April 15-20 and we plan to get better every year. We hope to underpromise and over-deliver this first year and it will be an event people will not want to miss.

Mechel Wall
Organizer and Founder