Please click on the headings below for more information.Alcohol, illegal substances (by Florida law), firearms and dogs/ pets are prohibited at the event. Only Service Animals are permitted by law.
The dates for the 10th Annual Florida Earthskills Gathering are February 5-9, 2020.
This Florida convergence, taking place since 2011, is a unique mix of resident and migratory earthskills practitioners. The Florida-based instructors are joined by many instructors from other gatherings such as Rivercane, Falling Leaves, MAPS Meet, ROOTS Rendezvous, and Firefly. Many of the instructors and participants from northern latitudes journey south to enjoy the mild winter and beautiful environs that North Florida offers.
Each day at the Florida Earthskills Gathering starts with a community breakfast at around 7:30 (Wednesday's breakfast will be at 8). Morning Circle is at 9:00am (10 am on Wednesday). Aside from a later start on the first day (Wednesday) morning and afternoon classes are held from 10:00 am – 12 noon and from 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm. Lunch is on your own and dinner is served around sunset. Breaks leave time for games, trade circles, and visits to the AnceSTORE. Each morning opens with sunrise yoga, and evenings are rich with live acoustic music, drumming, dancing, storytelling, and friendship around the fire circles.
We’ll ring a bell to let you know when meals are ready, and we’ll blow a conch to open and close workshop blocks. A central info board provides class listings, directions to class locations, and other important information about the gathering.
Our Closing Circle is at 5pm Sunday.
We are fortunate to be returning to the lovely Wells-Humphries Farm, at 9744 228th St, O'Brien, Fl. 32071. ** Please follow signs for Earthskills after you turn off of Hwy 129. We will be re-routing folks around central O'Brien to limit traffic in residential areas.** Within five miles of the Suwannee River, this site contains both open pasture land and forested areas, as well as a nature preserve. This land has been in the family for several generations, and in the last 30 years, much care has been taken to estabish an ecosystem that supports diverse wildlife. Barred Owls, Hawks, and a resident aligator call this their home. Please help keep ths precious land in good shape for its inhabitants. Thanks!
Beginning on Feb. 4th at 2 pm, all registration takes place on site where only cash and checks are accepted, no cards.
We may accept food donations/trades by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
What to Bring
- Camping gear, with excellent rain proof strategy.
- Bedding for warm and very cold temps.
- Dishes, mug, and utinsels
- Headlamp/flashlight (red or blue night vision option is helpful)
- Comfortable walking shoes and mud boots.
- A cart for hauling gear/water to your camp.
- Bring a chair if you are uncomfortable sitting on the ground.
- This is winter in Florida – average temperatures range from 40 to 70, but it is not uncommon to have lows in the 30s or 20s, so bring warm clothes and raingear. It also may be quite warm, so layering is best.
- Day pack with water, snacks/lunch, extra layers, notebook and pen/pencil.
- Sun hat and sun protection.
- Bring Food: Lunch will be on your own and, though we have vendors selling food, they may not have the quantity or type of food that you are accustomed to. Bring your own alternatives and back up provisions. Especially if you want to have meat/ animal protein, please bring your own to supplement what the kitchen is offering, or plan to purchase what the vendors are preparing. Vendors may sell coffee, but it is best to have a plan to make it for yourself if needed.
- Bring Drinking Water if you perfer not to drink naural well water that may have a sulfer taste/ cloudy quality. It has passed the water tests required by the Suwannee County Health Department as of Jan 21, 2020.
- If you would like to hone your self-sufficiency skills and provide for others at the event, please consider setting up your own camp kitchen where you and a few neighbors could take turns cooking meals for eachother. (and making coffee/tea) We do get feedback that our community kitchen does not provide the amount or types of food that everyone prefers, so in order to encourage cooperation and take some pressure off the kitchen, please consider the gathering as an opportunity to practice these skills (with leave no trace protocal) and get to know your neighbors through planned meal sharing. Please contact a site coordinator if you would like to create an approved, safely spaced and operated, contained, fire for group use. A fire extinguisher will be required at any created camp kitchens.
- Bucket with snug fitting lid for packing out all trash.
- Cold showers may or may not be available this year, please plan to bring what you need for personal hygiene in case we are not able to provide showers. (Think five gallon bucket, wash cloths, quick dry camp towel, biodegradable soap, privacy screen, etc. )
- Review the class descriptions for those you are interested in and bring the tools or materials needed for the class. (commonly mentioned: sharp non-serrated fixed blade knife, drums, pruning shears (Felcos), sharp scissors, buckskin)
- Seeds for the seed swap (well-kept, less than 5 yr old, non-invasive seeds)
- Drums (to be played before 10 pm, unless scheduled drum circle is permitted to run later)
- Yoga mat for morning stretching clases.
- Swim suit (there are public access springs nearby)
- Bring items to trade simlar to those (and with the same exclusions) as you would find in The Guild (campstore) (see below).
- Pocket money for The Guild, some class materials fees and for purchasing lunch from food vendors.
What to Leave at Home
Please keep in mind that in Suwannee County, events of this size are required to have police officers present. If you are traveling from other states, please make yourself aware of Florida laws, especially around illegal substances. Furthermore, alcohol, illegal substances, and firearms are prohibited at the event. Dogs/ Pets are also prohibited at the event. Only Service Animals are permitted by law. Please see here for expected behavior of Service Animals.
Electronic devices of all kinds are discouraged, and generators are prohibited, (unless cleared in advance by the site manager for special circumstances). Please be mindful about headlamp use at night (no one wants to be blinded!) and limit artificial lighting in and around your camp. Please do not bring firewood for the gathering from more than 50 miles away, as it may harbor organisms harmful to the local ecology.
Tuesday night is a camp-wide potluck dinner, so bring enough food for yourself and some to share around. This potluck meal is participant organized and is an opportunity to meet your neighbors. Wednesday- Sunday, all instructors, work-traders, and campers will be invited to share in a community breakfast and dinner created in our donation- and volunteer-based kitchen. Lunch is on your own. Food vendors will be available for lunches, and some breakfast and dinner options. Coffee may be available by vendor. Full-day visitors may join up for evening meals and activities if they wish. If you have a large amount of foodstuffs to offer, please email email@example.com to donate or inquire about trade for partial admission.
Camping is primitive: there are no hookups of any kind. Camp only in designated areas to minimize disturbance to the site and to allow for the flow of the gathering. Please be mindful not to camp under the trees, as they may be shedding branches; we have found that even those branches/ trees that do not appear to be dead can come down unexpectedly. Camp only in designated mowed and cleared areas, no bushwacking for camp sites. Choose areas that are high and dry, as the land has many tempting grassy areas that collect water after a rain. Camping areas will be designated for family and vehicle camping. Cook fires are only allowed at approved camp sites and have strict requirements, including having a bucket of sand, easy to remove lidded five gallon bucket of water or fire extinguisher present at the fire. A drop-off zone will be provided for the tent camping areas, so please plan to haul your gear on foot or bring your own wagon. Unless you are in the car camping area, you will not be able to drive your gear to your camp site. RV/bus spaces are only available with special arrangements made well before the event. Vehicle camping areas do not have hookups and generators are not allowed, so please be prepared to dry-camp.
Arriving Early or Leaving Late
Campers are welcome to come on Tuesday (campwide potluck dinner, and Lighting of the Ancestral Fire at Sunset) and leave on Monday, the days before and after the event. Opening circle convenes at 10 a.m. on Wednesday. Instructors who wish to arrive early and work-traders involved in setup and breakdown will be given further instructions. Closing circle is around 5pm on Sunday and then dinner will be served around sunset.
Ride-Share and Parking
We encourage participants to ride-share in consideration of the Earth. If you have space for someone to ride with you to the event, or are in need of a ride, please add a post to our Facebook event listing, here.
We will have people to welcome you and guide you toward parking and camping upon arrival. When parking, please stay within the flagged areas to avoid impacts to the land. There will be limited parking for RVs and buses, with pre-made arrangements.
Children's Programs and Youth Activities
Kids programs at Florida Earthskills this year will include activities for infants through age 12! Youth Village will be a home base for kids, and will include a morning circle for youth, craft projects and lots of fun and engaging activities for children. Each morning, experienced instructors will take youth ages 7-12 on woods adventures for the Nature Immersion Program. They will play games, explore nature, and participate in skill immersions. Each afternoon, there will be a variety of classes geared specifically for youth. Special youth activities include art projects, child led choices, nature games, activities, archery, and more!
The themes of the classes and activities for the Youth Village this year will center around Wilderness Skills, Crafts, Painting, Games, Arts, Music and Movement, and Storytelling. Come out and play with us!
Please remember that all minors must have a legal guardian with them at the event unless other arrangements are made with the core organizing team well in advance. Children, who wish to participate in Youth Village, should be signed into Youth Village at the beginning of each adult class time. Children may only attend adult classes with a guardian or guardian-appointed adult or if previously discussed with the instructor. Please help your children be aware of potential hazards on the site. Parents are responsible for their children when they are not involved in youth village programming.
Teens are welcome to take classes with adults and to be a part of the larger community. If a teenager would like to volunteer to help in Youth Village they need to check in with Mandy.
Teen Camp is not a class, but a place where teens can gather and be listened to, supported, and mentored. Teens create their own community to work on projects, share food, sing, play games, or just hang out. The Teen Camp is staffed by experienced mentors, and we strive to create a safe space where our young adults can be themselves and gather with other teens. Staff models what it means to be vibrant and alive adults connected to the Earth and looking out for the village. Teens will be encouraged to attend regularly scheduled classes by day, and to enjoy the wide array of amazing teachers. In the evenings, teens will be able to have their own hang-out zone around their own fire. Come and create memories, and make friends to last a lifetime!
The Ancestor Fire
Together, our community kindles and tends the Ancestor Fire. It glows day and night; come sit a while and feed the fire and all our ancestors with your finest thoughts and feelings. In spirit, they will feel and know we try to honor them with our highest selves. It is sacred ground, consecrated as a place for people of all ages; dedicated to the teaching stories and life stories of us all, our songs and prayers, ceremony, councils and counsel, joy and laughter and grief, quiet reflection, a place for the wisdom in us all to emerge. It is a place for our village elders to gather in council, to revere our ancestors, seek wisdom and co-create with all a good life for all generations, born and yet to be born. It is a place for elders to hear your voice and for you to hear the village elders’ voices.
As we all continue to bless this ground, our prayers, songs, hearts and minds will be received and radiated by the flames that send them out to other fires where people gather for sacred purpose, projecting healing and blessings to help us in time of need. The fire freely gives our souls the warmth of the finest thoughts, feelings and words from all the ancestor fires ever tended in every land, among all peoples stretching back in time to our tribal origins.
Caring for the Land and Residents there
Our gathering site is also a family farm and a nature preserve, so please be mindful of your impact on the plants, animals, and people who call this place home.
Again, when parking, please stay within the flagged areas to avoid impacts to the land. Camping and fires will be in designated areas only. Please be respectful of areas marked "no access" or "private". Throughout the event, please do your best to avoid injuring any vegetation, especially the plants and areas that are marked or flagged. Please do not leave garbage or litter on the land. Harvesting of vegetation is not permitted unless approved by the land owners via the site coordinator.
Camp Fires will be limited to those designated by the Site Coordinator. Cook Fires, camp stoves and grills may be used with care in designated areas. A bucket of sand, easy to remove lidded five gallon bucket of water or fire extinguisher must be present in any camp where there is use of fire. At the end of the event, all charcoal must be burried and cook fire pits filled in.
Water and Energy
Please be kind to the land and pack out your belongings and trash. Please do not dispose of cigarette butts or any kind of garbage on the land. We require that you pack out all your own trash (or better yet, don't make any trash at all!). We strive for this event to be free of packaging and garbage of all kinds. Please bring a bucket with a snug-fitting lid to contain any garbage for the car ride home :)
Showers may be available this year, but please plan to bring what you need for personal hygiene. (Think five gallon bucket, wash cloths, quick dry camp towel, biodegradable soap, privacy screen, etc. )
First Aid and Hygiene
Wash your hands!
The gathering is graced by a fully stocked first aid station, complemented by the skills of herbalists, medics, and wilderness medicine practitioners. Our event is also within a short drive of an emergency room for more serious injuries or illnesses. We provide several hand washing stations at key locations such as the meal line, toilets, youth village, and first aid.
A community organized trade blanket usually happens several times during the event, usually in the hour before sunset. The trade blanket is an amazing opportunity to trade things you have made with your own hands, as well as tools, raw materials, books, used or new outdoor gear, food, clothing and other items of interest to natural, crafty earthskills folks. Same items permitted/restricted as at the AnceStore. There is also usually a trade bazaar, and a Freecycle area. These activities are community organized and facilitated.
Instructors and participants alike will have a place to sell their wares in The Guild. This is a place to sell handmade goods and trade wares appropriate to the skills being shared at the gathering. The store will be open at certain hours for customers to browse. Please price your wares taking into account that 20% will be used to cover the cost of running the store and sales tax. Examples of items to sell include handmade soaps, bee products, canned goods, herbal medicines, handmade or re-purposed clothing, buckskin, handmade jewelry, tools, books, music, handmade decorations, etc. The Guild will NOT sell artifacts, parts of protected or regulated species, firearms, illegal substances or alcohol (medicinal tinctures welcome). All sales are cash only, so bring some pocket money.
Leadership for the Florida Earthskills Gathering is shared by a core group of dedicated, community-oriented earthskills practitioners. Event leaders for 2020 are Jessie King, Kito Reed and Ross Morton. A great deal of guidance and footwork is added through the dedication of multiple coordinators and past organizers, providing many insights and perspectives that help to shape this event.