Learn country living skills at annual expo in Stanwood
This annual event, hosted by the Stanwood FFA and presented by the WSU Skagit County Extension and other local groups, will be held from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 28 at Stanwood High School, 7400 272nd St. NW.
It's a veritable festival of agricultural learning not just for farmers and ranchers, but for gardeners, foodies, locavores and fans of urban homesteading, said Washington State University livestock advisor program coordinator Joan DeVries.
"City people who just live on a little lot could come and find 40 classes they can take," DeVries said. "You cannot leave our day and not have a great day."
Attendees get to choose from more than 150 classes in raising beef, horses, poultry, sheep, goats, pigs and fiber animals such as alpacas, plus growing and preserving food and tending honey bees.
Gardening classes include drip irrigation, managing good and bad bugs, composting, backyard hens, flower arranging, and classes on how to grow tomatoes, grapes, dried beans and giant pumpkins.
Foodies should take note of the event, too, with sausage-, cheese-, jerky- and cider-making classes, plus sessions on local grain grinding, smoking fish and barbecue.
Early registration for $55 goes through Dec. 31 and includes five class sessions, a catered hot lunch and an all-day trade show with 60 vendors. After Dec. 31 the cost goes up to $60.
The first 200 students ages 12 to 18 who register and pay $10 will receive a sponsorship to cover remaining attendance costs.
Eat-local advocates have helped make the homesteading lifestyle popular among non-farmers, including the fans of the annual Dark Days of Winter Eat Local Challenge, founded in Snohomish County and hosted this year by the Not Dabbling in Normal blog at notdabblinginnormal.wordpress.com.
Myriad books on growing and raising your own food have come out in recent years, including "The Urban Farm Handbook" by Seattle Sustainable Eats blogger Annette Cottrell, who will present two sessions at the country living expo.
To register for the expo, go to skagit.wsu.edu/CountryLivingExpo. Call 360-428-4270 to request a registration form by mail.
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