Homesteading Workshops and Bios

Homesteading Workshops at Homegrown 2016


A Taste of Homebrewing: an Introduction to Making Beer at Home with Evan Barker($10/person)

An introduction, with limited tastings, to the world of homebrewing.  Topics include: Brewing Process, Basic Ingredients, Beer Styles, Fermentation, Sanitation, and Sensory Evaluation.  By all means, this is not for experienced homebrewers, though we will be performing an all-grain brew onsite during the gathering.

Evan Barker Grill

Evan Barker is an Ecologist, a tinkerer and homebrewer.  A mad scientist at heart, he completed a B.S. in Environmental Science at DePaul before joining up with Pizzo & Associates.  He now helps to manage hundreds of natural areas and coordinate prescribed burns throughout the region.

Evan Barker



Eco-Scarf: Natural Dyes and Silk Scarves with Kristin Bogdonas ($10/person)

Dyeing with natural pigments is a fun, safe way to add beautiful colors to your clothes, naturally! Use various plant materials such as cabbage, turmeric and indigo to dye silk scarves to keep for a summer must-have for yourself or give away as a gift. Provided with $10 workshop fee: an 11” X 60” silk scarf and choice of dye stuffs.

Homemade Saurekraut Workshop with Kristin Bogdonas

Go through the steps of making Golden Sauerkraut and how to keep your vessel free from unwanted contaminants. The importance of using top-quality cabbage, salt and water will be discussed as well as what to do about mold growth. Handouts and taste-tests of the finished product are included.Kristin Bogdonas Jars

Kristin Bogdonas is the Unit 7 Nutrition and Wellness Educator for University of Illinois Extension serving Henry, Mercer, Rock Island and Stark counties. She focuses her efforts on developing healthier communities and promoting healthy lifestyles through a preventive approach. Bogdonas prefers to reach her audiences through face-to-face, interactive programming as well as web-based platforms and social media outlets. A long-term goal is to create a generation of conscious consumers and promote the local economy and local food movement by improving food experiences through hands-on, evidence-based programming that is fun and innovative. She contributes to two blogs, Illinois Nutrition Edition and Turnip the Beet!. She enjoys yoga, hiking, cooking new foods, gardening, fermentation, traveling and spending time with friends and family.

Kristin Bogdonas




Plug Into Electric Cars with Tim Cuga-Moylan and Niki Moylan

An introduction to electric cars and the benefits of ownership.  This hands-on workshop brings you up close with the Tesla Model S and the Smart For Two Electric Drive.  The Tesla showcases that an electric car can be everything and more than its combustion counterparts; the Smart car brings in the budget end of things while still showcasing the power and agility that the electric motor has over the traditional engine and transmission.  Tim and Niki will discuss what it’s like to live with electric cars as your daily drive and what makes them perfect road trip cars despite the thinking otherwise.


Tim and Niki live in Chicago and have been driving electric cars for almost 3 years.  Tim is an electrician by trade and currently works for a contractor designing and modeling electrical systems for new construction projects.  He is also an instructor at IBEW/NECA Technical Institute where he teaches computer-aided drafting and 3D modeling classes.  Niki is a high school English teacher as well as an athletic coach at Amundsen High School.  They went through their 200-hour yoga teacher training together and both have a deep fascination with the natural world and how we connect to it.  They enjoy finding ways to incorporate efficiency in their lives and continue to explore how to be better stewards of our planet.



Solar Homes 101 with Alex Cole

An introduction and description of solar energy, the history of the Illinois Solar Energy Association (ISEA, and an open exhibition of the Solarhouse, a self-contained demonstration lab containing both photovoltaic (pv) and solar thermal panels. There will also be a charging station for festival goers.

Solar Home Alex Ciole

Alex Cole has a diverse range of experiences in multiple fields and different cultures. Currently he works for Ailey Solar, a solar PV designer and installer where he designs systems and leads a small sales team. His passions are renewable energy, social enterprise, civic tech, community engagement, open source and decentralizing technologies. After studying history at DePaul University he traveled through Latin America for a year and a half, taught English in Santiago, volunteered on organic farms in Bolivia and Argentina, and hiked over 150 miles through national parks.

Alex Cole




Leather Bowl Making with Tracey Dobson

 Transform rescued leather scraps into sweet little containers for small everyday objects. Tracey has plenty of leather to choose from and is happy to share, so there is no cost for this workshop. In line with the weekends homesteading focus Tracey will give a brief talk on her personal philosophy of home and open the table to hear yours!

Dobson Bowls

Tetra Garden Tote Workshop with Tracey Dobson

Get your up-cycling on by turning two juice/milk tetra packs into one garden tote!

Dobson Container


Tracey Dobson teaches upcycling workshops, most often making 31″ lotus flowers from drill gauges (as featured at Homegrown 2015). In 2009 she created a line of jewelry inspired by surplus hex nuts. Since 2013 she has been working with people in their homes, making them functional and beautiful. Since 2015 she has been journeying down paths of philosophy, meditation and yoga. These have led to her newest adventure, learning to facilitate Dance Meditation Technique TM. Created in Detroit, she is excited to be bringing it to Chicago!

Tracey Dobson




Workshops with Master Naturalist Dan Fitzpatrick:

 Dan Fitzpatrick SteamPit

Underground Steam Pit Feast with Dan Fitzpatrick

In this activity we will earn how to cook foods in underground in a steam pit, then have a feast. We will also cover a few other primitive cooking methods and harvest any local wild plants in the area to eat. The pictures above cooked my thanksgiving turkey, potatoes, and squash.

 Dan Fitzpatrick SteamPit2

The Gift of Fire with Dan Fitzpatrick

In this workshop I would like to help participants understand how to produce fire from natural materials gathered around them.  The method for starting the fire focused on would be the bow drill, however hand drill, and fire piston will also be covered.  Participants will be given the opportunity to make their own bow drill sets from cedar boards provided.  I will also have some other wood sets available to try out. Bring a sharp knife if you have one.

Dan Fitzpatrick FireCoffee Roasting and Tasting with Dan Fitzpatrick

Roasting your own coffee is the best!  You should totally do it!   It tastes way better and you end up going to Starbucks a whole lot less.  Roasting can be done in a pan, on a stove top popcorn popper, in an air popper, in the oven, or in a professional roaster. We will cover the basics and of course taste samples of single origin fresh roast from all over the world!!


Edible Plants with Dan Fitzpatrick
We will go out and learn a dozen or so plants together and eat a few. We may also spend some time making baskets, bracelets, and other useful items from the local plants. Or perhaps spending some time in meditation and communication with our instincts about a plant.


Dan Fitzpatrick has taught the subjects of  Physical Science, Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Anatomy, Environmental Science, Agriculture, and Agricultural science for 12 years. He is a 5th generation farmer with experience growing commercial crops, livestock, bees, orchards, and maple sugar.  Dan is also a master naturalist, hunter safety instructor, trapper safety instructor, and in the apprentice group at Tom Brown’s Tracker school.






Paper Making with Gretchen Fitzpatrick

Learn to make decorative paper out of scraps of paper, natural grasses, plant and other natural fibers. Each participant will make their own paper, which will need an extended drying time before using.


Aromatherapy 101 with Gretchen Fitzpatrick

What is aromatherapy and how do you use Essential Oils? Learn about the different properties of oils, how they can help your body and mind, and how to use them in daily life.


Henna Body Art (price per design)

Creating designs for women’s hands and legs with henna paste or mehndi is a popular practice in India. Gretchen introduces the traditional art of henna designs that incorporate intricate designs as temporary tattoos. Henna is highly regarded in Ayurvedic medicine for its ability to eliminate infection and impurities and soothe the stomach. The fragrant white blooms of the henna plant are even used to make perfume.

Gretchen Fitzpatrick HennaGretchen Fitzpatrick


Soap Making with Kate Jakubas

Soap making is a simple way to reduce the number of consumer products you buy and increase your control over the ingredients and products you use to clean your home and body. This workshop provides an overview of what soap is, how it works to clean homes and bodies, and how it is made. Safety in using caustic lye is stressed while participants are able to try making soap for themselves and take some home.


Green Cleaning 101 with Kate Jakubas

Are you concerned about conventional cleaning products with fragrances and ingredients detrimental to human and environmental health? Looking to save money and simplify? Worried about allergies? This workshop provides the building blocks for home cleaning using simple ingredients such as soap and baking soda. Learn what ingredients to use in different areas of your home, take home a reference for common cleaning situations, and make your own all-purpose cleaner and a laundry powder to get started on the path to better cleaning.


Kate Jakubas is the founder of Meliora K, a green cleaning products company, with the mission of increasing consumer understanding of product ingredients. Her technical expertise is in the chemistry of green products, with a BS in Materials Science Engineering from UIUC and a Master’s in Environmental Engineering from IIT. Kate’s teaching background comes from time spent running a physics outreach program, where she discovered and practiced her passion for explaining technical scientific concepts to a wide audience.

 Kate Jakubas



Beekeeping with Jana Kinsman

Jana will cover the basics of beekeeping, such as hive placement, resource management, and startup costs! She’ll also talk about hive components and basic colony behavior. Any and all questions are welcome!


Jana Kinsman has been keeping bees in Chicago since 2012 when she placed ten beehives in eight different community garden and urban farms in the city, and in the past couple of years she has expanded to rural IL. She loves both! With the help of interns and friends all riding bicycles, Jana tends to the beehives and also visits schools and summer camps to teach kids about the importance of pollinators. Jana lives on the south side of Chicago and enjoys teaching everyone about the joys of these incredible pollinators with whom we share our world.

 Jana Kinsman



Shrubs with Sarah Mallin

Have you ever sipped a shrub? Not the bush out in your front lawn, but a fruit syrup, preserved with vinegar and mixed with water or alcohol to make a tangy, refreshing beverage. An old-fashioned favorite, shrubs have steadily made a comeback in the last several years—especially on cocktail menus—but they aren’t solely the province of mixologists. Making a shrub syrup at home is a fun way to preserve and play with seasonal fruit, and you can make them with practically any fruit you have on hand. In addition to drinks, you can use the brightly flavored syrup in salad dressings and homemade jam, or as a glaze for meats. We’ll also talk about tinctures, elixirs, syrups and other ways to harness the magic of nature into beverages.


Beyond Pesto with Sarah Mallin

Think pesto and most thoughts turn to verdant, fragrant basil. But the word pesto simply refers to the aromatic paste that results from pounding or crushing each ingredient down to its essence. Pesto based on cilantro, arugula, parsley, wild nettle, red peppers, or pistachios creates wonderful canvases that enable fresh flavor combinations to shine. Join Sarah in a sensory treat in creating and tasting bold interpretations of pesto!

Some of the produce will be coming from The Physic Garden at The Pie Patch ( in Back-of-the-Yards, Chicago and some from Stonehouse Farm gardens and woods, as well as other friends’ local farms.


Sarah Jane Mallin—is a chef, farmer, artist, and owner of Pyrite Sun. She create experiences and sensory art through food and gardens, and teaches cooking at the Fearless Food Kitchen, an extension of the Peterson Garden Project in Chicago. Pies, curated meals, colorful salads, amazing dressings and sauces, and abundant edible gardens are her mediums to connect you more intimately with how you eat and how plants grow. Sarah specializes in art- and healing-related events where the food interacts with the conversation and experience of an event. A thoughtful meal is an extraordinary opportunity to learn about each other and our own senses.

Sarah Mallin



Chicken-Keeping with Jennifer Murtoff

This class is designed for curious folks who are considering getting chickens, as well as for those who already have their own birds. Learn how to raise chicks, care for adult birds, and keep your neighbors happy!



Chicken Coop Basics with Jennifer Murtoff

This class addresses what you need to know about building a safe and comfortable home for your hens. You’ll learn the basic needs of backyard birds. Find out the essential components of a coop, things to avoid when choosing construction materials, important construction tips, and see different coop styles. (Chicken-keeping class is a prerequisite.)


Jennifer Murtoff of Home to Roost LLC is the MidWest’s only chicken consultant. Jennifer provides compassionate, homespun consulting and emergency care for backyard chickens in the Chicagoland area. A farmer’s granddaughter, Jennifer’s passion for fowl developed as she acquired a number of kinds of birds in south central Pennsylvania. Her flock included chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, quail, peafowl, pigeons, and golden pheasants.


She offers information and resources on chicken care from chick to adult, and, while not a veterinarian, she provides emergency advice and troubleshooting, as well as avian veterinary referrals. Jennifer leads workshops on backyard chickens; does presentations for garden groups, schools, and other interested parties; and assists families with their own flocks.


Jennifer Murtoff



Recycled Materials Shag Rug with Monika Neuland, a Social Practice artist with a 20-year history of manifesting creative work spaces that center around access in the arts and materials reuse. Through The Social Fiber Project, Monika creates welcoming habitats, specifically designed to discover what art and creative industry can do for people who have no regular access to social, economic or educationally driven upward mobility.

Monika Neuland Cat

“Creating opportunities for people to create and participate instead of consume, I use art to redistribute energetic connections in people and communities. Using this idea as an internal compass, I have undergone a personal reevaluation system of what is “high” or “low” in art, and also in human experience. I see creation and participation as wealth, and conspicuous consumption as poverty.”


The Social Fiber Project is an interactive mobile textile studio, centered on material reuse and access in the arts. It holds repurposed fiber drives where people can drop off old clothes, textile materials, upholstery samples, draperies, yarn, wool roving and notions. The project leads workshops in converting the old materials into the building blocks of new high end products: RecycloRya Rugs, Handwoven yardage and handwoven pillows, technicolor quilts, Recyclo-yardage and table linens.

Monika Neuland



Why Homegrown and Handmade with Deborah Niemann

Why on earth would anyone want to have a garden, milk goats, or bake bread from scratch? Learn why homegrown and handmade food is not only cheaper but better for you and the environment. The author of Homegrown and Handmade, Deborah will have her book available and is happy to sign them for you!


The Natural Home Dairy with Deborah Niemann

With the partnership of a few animal friends, you can produce all of your family’s dairy products while letting mothers raise their own babies as nature intended. Discover how to choose dairy animals, how to share milk with babies, and what equipment you need to make all of your dairy products. Recipes included!


Goats as the Centerpiece of a Diversified Homestead with Deborah Niemann

Did you know that goats can provide you with milk, meat, and fertilizer? We’ll quickly cover the basics of raising goats and then talk about what it takes to make your own soap and a variety of cheeses, yogurt, butter, buttermilk, and meat, including summer sausage or charcuterie. We’ll also discuss whey and milk as fertilizer, as well as the basics of composting, so you’ll never need to buy fertilizer again.

Deborah Niemann is a homesteader, writer, and self-sufficiency expert. In 2002, she relocated her family from the suburbs of Chicago to a 32-acre parcel on a creek “in the middle of nowhere”. Together, they built their own home and began growing the majority of their own food. Sheep, pigs, cattle, goats, chickens, and turkeys supply meat, eggs and dairy products, while an organic garden and orchard provides fruit and vegetables. A highly sought-after speaker and workshop leader, Deborah presents extensively on topics including soapmaking, cheesemaking, raising livestock, and composting. She is the author of Homegrown and Handmade, Ecothrifty, and Raising Goats Naturally.;

Deborah Niemann