Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

January 14, 2014

Sustainable living conference comes to west side of Indy

By Brenda L. Holmes brenda.holmes@flyergroup.com
Westside Flyer

---- — PLAINFIELD — With more and more people attempting to reduce their carbon footprint, a new conference was born here in the Heartland of America — the Midwest Sustainable Education Conference.

The event took place this past weekend in Plainfield. It was the brainchild of sustainable living experts Rick Beach, Darby Simpson, and Jason Akers. Beach is from the Perry Township area of Indianapolis, Simpson lives outside of Martinsville, and Akers is from Western Kentucky.

“This is our first conference,” Akers said. “We’re hoping to have more of them in various spots around the Midwest.”

The three men met while searching through online forums and reading similar pod casts over the past few years.

During the conference, the organizers presented information about permaculture, homesteading, gardening, fruit production, small scale meat production, rotational alternative energy sources, aquaponics, personal security, and much more.

“We’ve created a well-rounded program,” Akers said.

The three-day event brought more than 50 people to learn more about sustainable living.

“We didn’t know what to expect,” Akers said. “We’re very happy with the turnout. We have a good mix of people new to the subject and those who want to know more.”

He said having a conference like this is one way to get more ideas of practical applications that can be done in any home.

“We get ideas from each other,” Akers said. “We find out what other people are doing and then may want to try it ourselves.”

The mid-day meal on Saturday was catered by Fermenti Artisan which operates out of the City Market downtown. It was all locally produced organic food from about four or five farms in the area. The chicken served was produced on Simpson’s farm.

“This food turned out to be so good,” Simpson said. “They made a maple syrup roasted winter squash. I need to figure out how they made this and make more.”

The menu contained smoked chicken salad made with homemade mayonnaise, freshly baked bread, salad, and the winter squash.

Simpson said he first started looking into where food came from after his son began to have ear infections at an early age.

“My 9-month-old child kept having ear infections,” he said. “The pediatrician wanted to have surgery and put tubes in his ears. I thought that was a pretty radical thing to do for ear infections so I started to do some research.”

He said he learned that many children began to have the same problem just after switching from breast feeding to formula.

“Kids would get a lot of upper respiratory infections,” he said. “We took him off formula and began to give him organic whole milk. We figured we had nothing to lose.”

Simpson said the ear infections cleared up and his son, who is now 13, has never had an ear infection since. He had also always wanted to start a small farming operation on his family farm. Now he produces chickens, turkeys, pork, and beef.

Beach is a lifelong gardener who has become involved in permaculture for the last five years. Recently, he received his official permaculture design certificate from the Geoff Lawton’s Permaculture Design Institute.

Permaculture is a branch of ecological design, ecological engineering, and environmental design that develops sustainable architecture, and self-maintained agriculture systems modeled from natural ecosystems.