Tasting vinegar with your eyes closed is not as bad as it sounds, promises Lisa Martin.

Martin, the Reynolds Homestead’s senior program manager, will present one of the programs at the Bushels & Barrels Sustainability Workshop on June 15. Her program on vinegar will include “kind of like a wine-tasting” — for vinegar.

The Sustainability Workshop will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Reynolds Homestead, before the Bushels & Barrel Festival, which will run at 4-10.

If you wonder, the "Sustainability Movement" has roots in the 1800s but really didn't gain momentum, environmental scientists observe, until 1970, the first year that Earth Day was celebrated. That also was the year Congress created the Environmental Protect Agency and the Clean Air Act. A couple of years later, the Clean Water Act was added.

In 1995, the United Nations General Assembly published "Sustainable Development Goals,"which were a list of 17 to be attained by 2030, dealing with air, water, land, food, energy and other elements to emerge from those philosophies. The workshops at Reynolds will approach topics that dovetail with those goals.

There are three blocks of time with two sessions in each block; attendees may choose three of the six offered sessions.

Block I, 10-11:15 a.m.

  • Creating a Sustainable Home Landscape. The Virginia Cooperative Extension will present this program about a sustainable landscape, which conforms to the environment surrounding it, requiring only natural inputs for maintenance and little to no additional support. It is sustainable over long periods of time and exists in harmony with the local ecosystem. It recovers quickly from natural disasters and bad weather.
  • Edible Wild Plants. Wyatt Bottorff will teach about local wild foods.

Block II, 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.

  • Growing a Garden of Health. Patrick County Master Gardeners will teach about plants whose benefits go beyond nutritional value, including lavender for lower blood pressure, Cat’s Claw for inhibiting blood clot formation and oregano and sage for lowering A1C and helping reduce blood sugar.
  • Organic Gardening at Home. How to bolster plant health and ward off pests without using synthetic fertilizers or pesticides.

Block III, 1:30-2:45 p.m.

  • The Low-Down on Vinegars. Reynolds Homestead staff will teach how to make flavored vinegars and salad dressing, which attendees will take home. It will include the differences in about 15 types of vinegars, including champagne, fig, balsamic and rice, as well as how to pair vinegars with meals. The tastes of those vinegars “is what’s going to be the greatest surprise,” Martin said. The most common vinegars, white and apple cider, “will make you pucker up, but a lot of the vinegars are very mild.” For example, she said, she recently made violet vinegar, which “had this really interesting sweet and salty taste to it” and “delicious in poppy seed dressing.”
  • Home Brewing. Southern Hills Homebrew Supply will teach how to make beer at home.

The cost for the full workshop (three sessions) is $30, or $10 for any individual session.

Light refreshments will be served during the workshop, and those purchasing a full-day workshop will receive a free boxed lunch.

Registration may be done through a mailed registration form, in person at the Reynolds Homestead or by phone at 694-7181 extension 21 or 22. Walk-in registrations also will be accepted.

The Bushels & Barrels Sustainability Workshop is sponsored by the Reynolds Homestead and One Family Productions. In the past, it has been held earlier in the day, but this year has been moved to later to avoid competing with the Virginia Covered Bridge Festival. “A lot of our volunteers and regular customers go to that,” said Sarah Wray, assistant program coordinator for the Reynolds Homestead.

After the workshops, the seventh annual Bushels & Barrels Local Food, Wine & Beer Festival will feature the bands Morgan Wade & The Stepbrothers (country, folk and high-energy Americana with Ed McGee on bass and Joe Link on mandolin); Prosperity’s Folly (blues, outlaw and Southern rock) and A.J. Ghent and His Singing Guitar (“neo blues,” a fusion of blues, funk, rock and pop).

Admission costs $20 in advance and $25 at the gate, which includes wine tasting and a cup. Designated-driver tickets (will not be served alcohol) will cost $12. Other ticket options are available; visit https://www.reynoldshomestead.vt.edu/programs-events/bushels-barrels/.

Bushels & Barrels will begin with a “farm to Table Dinner” on Friday, June 14, which includes a three-course dinner and Foothills Brewing beers on the grounds. Couldn’t Be Happier, a folk-country-rock duo from Winston-Salem, N.C., will sing.

Also during the events will be the second year of the Homestead’s No Business Mountain Home Brew Competition, said Wray, who added she’s expecting a lot of participation.

“Last year we were hoping for at least five, and we got 16 entries,” she said. The competition is open to “any home brewers that are around.”

Beers must be classified into one of four categories: light, dark, lager or other. The entry fee is $5 per beer, and each brewer is allowed to submit up to three different beers.

Entries must be dropped off through Sunday at: Reynolds Homestead, 463 Homestead Lane, Critz, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays; Foothills Brewing, 3800 Kimwell Drive, Winston-Salem, N.C., 4-9 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 4-10 p.m. Thursday and Friday, noon to 10 p.m. Saturday and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday; and Southern Hills Homebrew Supply, 5342 Franklin Road S.W., Roanoke, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

The homebrew competition winners will be announced during the Bushels & Barrels Festival.

Organizers still are looking for volunteers to help man the festival, Wray said.

Anyone who works a 3-hour shift will get free admission. For more information, visit https://bushelsandbarrels.weebly.com/2019-festival.html or call 276-694-7181.