HOMEGROWN Village is about to make its third appearance at Maker Faire Bay Area. Here’s how they describe their presence at the Faire: “The HOMEGROWN Village at Maker Faire Bay Area is an opportunity to connect people with the story of our food, from the bees that pollinate to the farmers who harvest. Learn how tilling a few square feet of city soil creates a vibrant urban farm, how to grow veggies vertically, how to home-roast coffee beans, see noodle stretching demos, and so much more. The makers, presentations, and hands-on workshops in the HOMEGROWN Village offer something for anyone with an appetite for DIY and good food.” I sat down (OK, it was over email) with HOMEGROWN Village “Shepherdess” Cornelia Hoskin for a little pre-show Q&A. – Gareth
First off, tell us a little about yourself. What is your background and how did you get involved in this work?
I’m one of those lucky people who has always matched my profession with what I’m intrigued by and what I love doing. I was in the music business because I have a passion for loud, heavy rock and roll. I opened a couple of prepared food businesses because I’m obsessed with tasty food and can put together a few decent meals. And I’m The HOMEGROWN Shepherdess at Farm Aid because I care deeply about good food and seeing family farmers prosper (my grandfather was a farmer and I spent a lot of time on the farm). Turns out that, happily, my music industry background plus food entrepreneurship made me the perfect person to launch HOMEGROWN back in 2008.
What exactly is HOMEGROWN Village? What are some of your main offerings?
The HOMEGROWN Village is a chance for people to come face-to-face with the sources of their food. When you get to scratch a goat behind the ears while she gives her milk, then watch that milk become goat cheese…you have a genuine and intimate relationship with that cheese. It will never taste better. We aim to create that kind of transformation in people through all kinds of making: learn how to compost and you’ll understand good soil; learn how to grow a vegetable and then save its seeds and you’ll appreciate the craft of farming; bake a loaf of fresh bread and you’ll have a changed understanding of flavor, sustenance and how incredibly rewarding good food can be. The HOMEGROWN Village is a feast for all senses – come hungry!
What are some the aspects of your work with HOMEGROWN that you find most interesting?
The most rewarding thing for me is the chance to shed a spotlight onto the worlds of the creative, innovative and kickass characters who gather on the web site. Urban homesteaders, back-to-the-landers, crafty grandmothers, plucky entrepreneurs, and fearless beginners all mixing together in this rich stew of adventure. It’s thrilling, honestly.
How long have you guys been doing Maker Faire?
This will be our third year. We’re definitely family now. :)
Can you tell us a few highlights of your Maker Faire experiences?
The Swap-o-Rama-Rama last year was a life-changing event for me because of the eternally patient volunteer who taught me how to sew a simple tunic. She alleviated my fears of the sewing machine and of not making the perfect garment, and I’ve been sewing regularly ever since.
What do you have in store for this year’s Faire that you’re most excited about?
We have a terrific representation of urban homesteaders and farmers this year. Ruby Blume from The Institute for Urban Homesteading, Heidi Kooy from The Itty Bitty Farm In The City, and Rachel Brinkerhoff and Esperanza Pallana from The East Bay Urban Agriculture Alliance will all be presenting information and activities that show how our food can be super local – even for city slickers. Oh, and Swap-o-Rama-Rama!
Since this is Food month here on MAKE, if you could talk a little bit about the idea of food as a rewarding form of making, and why…
I hope that I covered some of this in the first answer, but… I say it a lot: We all eat. For many of us, convenience has overshadowed quality. We put food into our bodies without thinking about how it was made and how well it provides nutrients for us. Sometimes we forget to even taste our food. Taking the time to make a good meal with ingredients that were grown and made with care can be like seeing new shades of color for the first time. The explosion of flavor from a freshly-picked cherry tomato that you grew on your patio… The shitake mushroom that you just sliced off of the log you’ve been watering and tending in the shady corner of your yard…the pickles that you made from a farmers market haul in late July… When you become an active participant in the making of the food that passes your – and your family’s – lips, life has never tasted sweeter!
Cornelia Hoskin is the “Shepherdess” of HOMEGROWN Village, an organization created by Farm Aid to foster a community for celebrating the “culture” in agriculture and for sharing skills like growing, cooking, and food preservation.