Courtesy Karen Spirer
Have you ever wanted to learn to make kombucha or kefir at home? Do you need to know a little more about beekeeping before you commit to your own hives? Do you need some basics of canning before the next tomato crop? Cameron Kelly can hook you up.
A woman of many talents and interests, Kelly runs an organization called Skills Off the Grid. She sees herself as a middle person who responds to demand by matching people who want to know with people who have those skills. Using the networks she’s developed as a long-time fitness and social-dance instructor, Kelly arranges low-cost, convenient, small-group learning experiences on a wide range of topics. She often works in cooperation with local churches or a Westchester County-owned farm.
The skills people are seeking are often those that many people used to have not so long ago but that our communities are at risk of now losing.
“The people that still know how have no venue to share their knowledge,” she says.
Her own expanding interest in community sustainability, permaculture, gardening and the DIY “re-skilling” movement motivated her to create Skills Off the Grid. She’s also a member of the local Transition movement, which seeks to prepare us for a post-peak oil world. In addition, she was inspired by her visit to the urban gardens of Havana, Cuba, and by a similar organization, Brooklyn Skill Share.
This spring, Kelly will bring the curious together for two-hour workshops with a beekeeper, an expert knitter, a specialist in natural pest control, an herbalist and a pickle-maker. The workshops provide an orientation and a place to begin.
“I became interested in hosting courses and workshops that would teach skills that will allow people, if only in a small way, to ‘get off the grid,’” explains Kelly. “People are looking to learn do-it-yourself, hands-on skills.”
Karen Spirer, a natural-food chef who often runs classes on fermented drinks or food preservation through Skills Off the Grid, offers this easy-to-do-yourself spring salad recipe.
Recipe: Sweet-and-Savory Spring Salad
Use only the thinner, smaller radish greens from the bunch. The rhubarb can be raw or lightly steamed.
- 1 bunch of radishes, thinly sliced with greens torn
- 6 cups spring mix salad greens
- 3 scallions, thinly sliced
- 2 rhubarb stalks, sliced thinly
- 1/2 to 1 cup mint leaves, whole or chopped, to taste
- 2 T. lemon zest
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 6 T. combination apple cider and balsamic vinegar
- 2 T. maple syrup (or more to taste)
- 1 tsp. mustard
- squeeze of lemon juice
- 3/4 tsp. sea salt (or more to taste)
- pepper, to taste
Clean and cut all salad ingredients as indicated. Mix them with torn radish leaves and spring mix salad greens. Beat together the dressing ingredients with a fork to emulsify them, and drizzle on the salad to taste.