Broad array of helpful workshops at the fair

• 11th Annual Illinois Renewable Energy and Sustainable Lifestyle Fair Aug. 11-12 at Ogle County Fairgrounds

By Drs. Robert & Sonia Vogl
President and Vice President, Illinois Renewable Energy Association

Interest in native plants has risen as a result of the drought, which has not only been hard on crops, but is predicted to cause a rise in food prices.

While many habitats have been stressed, one that survives despite the stress is native prairies. Tim Lewis will make a presentation at the 11th Annual Illinois Renewable Energy and Sustainable Lifestyle Fair (Aug. 11-12 at Ogle County Fairgrounds in Oregon, Ill.) focusing on energy conservation with drought-resistant native plants.

Lewis encourages people to incorporate native plants to reduce pesticide use, use less water and reduce energy consumption.

Judy Speer will provide an introduction to permaculture; Judy and Jack will suggest we let nature be our guide; and Caron Wenzel will explain both their geodesic greenhouse and ways of “going green.”

Organizations with prairie interests that have contributed to the success of the event include the Prairie Preservation Society of Ogle County, Nachusa Grasslands, the Byron Forest Preserve District and the Oregon Park District.

With food prices on the rise, some food sessions should prove both interesting and helpful. Mitch Heldt will share techniques to pump, meter and distribute nutrients in a hydroponic farm without electronic controls.

Interest in where food is coming from and what’s in it has also risen. Other food-oriented components of sustainable lifestyles will be addressed by Roland Wolff, who has also processed small livestock and will discuss wild venison acquisition and processing; Sylvia Woo, who will present the history, process, science and benefits of fermented foods; Linda Conroy, who will cover wild weeds and herbal remedies; and Bud Wiener, who will demonstrate how to make healthy homemade peanut butter along with providing a wealth of peanut information. Lin Vogl will also share her experiences with weekend homesteading.

In addition to the many workshops about sustainable living, others will focus on efficiency and renewable energy. Several educational institutions with renewable energy and sustainable living programs that will help those seeking more in-depth learnings include Rock Valley College, Lake Land College and Northern Illinois University. Dr. Dwight Mayberry will relate the story of Eswood School’s obtaining and using a refurbished wind generator to become energy independent.

While our programs focus on providing information, the sessions are informal, allowing for discussions with presenters. It is also a social event, a time for sharing interests with others and meeting old friends.

A new addition of forums/discussion sessions toward the end of the fair will provide opportunities to explore ideas in-depth. Each will focus on a specific topic, including energy, wind and solar, transportation, building construction, food and lifestyle, and nature and psychology.

Space will also be provided for participants to bring photos and examples of their renewable energy systems to share with others.

While we do not expect the grid to collapse as in India or Rockford recently, people still should give thought to backup power, even if it is only for a few hours. David Fink will provide examples of backup power systems.

Other workshops from previous years are being offered for those who missed them. The workshop program is posted in The Rock River Times (see ad on page A5) and on

Major sponsors of the fair are the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, The Rock River Times, Clean Line Energy Partners, the Kickapoo Nature Conservancy and Ogle County.

Ogle County Fairgrounds is at 1440 N. Limekiln Road, Oregon, Ill. Fair hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday, Admission is $5 for one day or $7 for two days per adult; $3 for one day or $5 for two days per youth; and free for children younger than 12 when accompanied by an adult; and free for Illinois Renewable Energy Association members.

Drs. Robert and Sonia Vogl are founders and officers of the Illinois Renewable Energy Association (IREA) and coordinate the annual Renewable Energy and Sustainable Lifestyle Fair. E-mail

From the Aug. 8-14, 2012, issue

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