Oregon Rural Frontier Homestead Festival

Aaron Imhof waits patiently for residents from Wheeler County to come and learn about aquaponics at the  First Annual Oregon Rural Homestead Festival in Fossil Oregon.

Oregon Rural Frontier Homestead Festival

Ingenuity Innovation Center was invited to participate in the first annual Oregon Rural-Frontier Homestead Festival, presented by the League of Oregon Rural-Frontier Homesteaders (LORFH) in Fossil, Oregon.  The event was held at the Wheeler County Fairgrounds on October 11, 2013.  Organizer Christine Smith, chair of LORFH, reached out to Kate Wildrick after taking a tour of Ingenuity in December 2013.

“Christine was very excited about aquaponics,” explained Kate.  “We both have a deep connection to what it means to live in a sustainable and self sufficient manner.  Over the next few months, the conversation evolved into looking at how we could work in developing a way to bring people to Wheeler County to show what incredible innovation exists there.  Christine made the brilliant connection that she could initiate developing an annual Rural Homesteading Festival much like Lyle, WA does with their Northwest Homesteading Fair.  We immediately signed up to become the first vendor and workshop presenter.”

Fossil, Oregon is located in Wheeler County in North Central Oregon and has a population of approximately 430 people.  This remote region has roughly one person for every two square miles.  Given the sparse population density, the county does not even meet rural requirements.  Instead, the State of Oregon has designated Wheeler County as Rural Frontier.

“After owning and operating Service Creek [located 20 miles away from Fossil on the John Day River], I had the incredible experience of meeting master craftsman, artists and downright genius innovators,” stated Kate.  “Being nearly two hours from a stop light required that you had to learn how to craft your own solutions with the resources you had in your community, and work with people you may or may not necessarily agree with.  The two and half years that I lived in the Basin deeply changed and affected me.  It gave me a deeper appreciation of what self reliance and sustainability look and feel like.”

A variety of skilled and talented vendors showed up to share their knowledge and experience around soap making, bee keeping, poultry raising and processing, food preservation, natural products, survival skills, and art.  Hands on demonstration workshops were conducted around aquaponics, food preservation, bee keeping and chicken processing.  The local 4-H group also engaged children of all ages in fun games and activities.

“We were very excited to show what aquaponics could do for a local area such as this,” stated Aaron Imhof.  “With water being a huge concern in this community, we loved showing what was possible with aquaponics.  Many were eager to learn more and luckily we were able to show what we have been able to accomplish in our greenhouse by showing them the Sustainable Today Program we were featured in.”

For more information about the festival, please click here or follow the League of Oregon Rural-Frontier Homesteaders on Facebook.