Communities Sustainability

Make It, Don’t Buy It, With Living Web Farms

Make It, Don’t Buy It, With Living Web Farms

Building a wood fired oven. Photo courtesy of Living Web Farms

By Natasha Anderson

Many people like the idea of making holiday gifts instead of buying them, but lack the confidence and knowledge to do so. Three years ago, Living Web Farms decided to help by conducting a yearly skill share that would not only teach people how to produce a variety of gifts, but also provide a fun and relaxing social opportunity. The 3rd Annual Make It, Don’t Buy It Holiday Skill Share will take place on Tuesday, December 5, from 4:30–8 p.m. at 176 Kimzey Road in Mills River.

“The response has been enthusiastic,” says Living Web Farms education and outreach coordinator Meredith Leigh. “People seem to appreciate the projects, but also the chance to meet other people and share talents and stories. I think the idea of a community-based event centered around do-it-yourself gifts for the holidays puts the spirit back into giving.”

Skills, which are taught by farm staff and other artisans, vary from year to year so that repeat participants can always learn something new. Past projects include making and bottling hot sauce, making roselle chutney, blending and bottling spices, crafting hand-dipped and twisted beeswax taper candles, creating kusudama flower ornaments from recycled paper and producing leather barrettes.

Participants have also made candy, sauerkraut and herbal teas and learned felting and embroidery. Visitors can choose to move between demonstrations, getting an introduction to several skills, or maintain an in-depth focus on one.

“I think attendees enjoy the freedom of this event,” says Jessica Kaufman, owner of Waxon Batik & Dye Studio. “They can wander from spot to spot, or they can sit down and really immerse themselves in something they’re interested in. It’s really a sampler of lots of different ways to use your hands to create joy and meaning.” Kaufman, who has shared skills in the past, will return this year with another hand-dyed textile project. Though she is unsure what she will teach guests, citing both shibori kitchen towels and cloth napkins as possibilities, her enthusiasm is a sure thing. “As an artist and educator, this is the kind of event that really gets me excited,” she says. “We have so many talented people in our WNC communities, it seems like a missed opportunity to not gather and support each other in our passions and skills.”

Living Web Farms is an education and research organic farm. With more than 35 acres, four greenhouses, alternative energy innovation, pastured livestock, forest crops and diverse vegetable production, it is the leading demonstration site for effective organic farming in WNC. All food produced at the farm is donated to underserved individuals and families via seven North Carolina food banks.

A donation of $10 is suggested for admission to the event. For more information, visit or call 828.891.4497.

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