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Back to Basics scheduled Feb. 1

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Back to Basics for 2014 is featuring presentations including past favorites on soap making and solar power as well as new presentations on home brewing kombucha (a tea like drink) and cold fusion research being done in Pine River.

There are 30 workshops and around 30 vendors at the event. Some of the presenters will be giving attendees items to bring home with them.

“Abbie Schramm’s Soapmaking 101 workshop will let participants make their own goats milk soap to take home,” said Colin McLain, Research and Outreach Journalist with Happy Dancing Turtle (HDT). “Megan Goplin is hosting a Home Brewing Kombucha 101 workshop and each participant will be able to make their own kombucha starter (called “scoby”) and take it home.”

Attendees might be surprised to find that this year’s event will also feature a workshop discussing research being done on cold fusion as an affordable and renewable source of energy. Even more surprising is the fact that this discussion will feature details of cold fusion research being done in Pine River.

This year’s keynote speaker is Katy Smith, the 2011 Minnesota Teacher of the Year. Her topic is titled “Strong Roots: Growing the Future”.

Tickets for the workshops are $25 for the full day or less for single or double workshops. For those not interested in workshops, there are also a vendor’s area that is free to attend.

One popular vendor is Jim Fruth of Brambleberry Fruit Farm of Pequot Lakes where attendees can buy preserves, syrups and vinegars. Fruth is also hosting a double workshop on no-weed gardening.

According to McLain, there were fewer than 60 attendees during the first year of Back to Basics, but due to increased popularity over the years the number is expected to swell to 150-200 participants. Participants in the past have received seed packets and homemade spice packets just for attending. This year they will receive homemade comfrey salve and mint lip balm made from beeswax harvested on the HDT campus.

The event is held in the Pine River-Backus School Feb. 1 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Some workshops fill up fast, so attendees are encouraged to sign up soon.

Travis Grimler can be reached at Follow him on Facebook.