Fresh ideas for how to live lighter on the planet, a sampling of the area’s local cuisine, and some of the region’s best live dance music are all things residents have come to expect from the annual Great Lakes Bioneers Conference. And this year’s event shouldn’t disappoint when it kicks off this Friday on the grounds of Northwestern Michigan College.

How-to’s on residential solar energy, home mushroom cultivation (edibles only, of course), and vermicomposting (composting indoors with worms) are just a few of the workshops planned for the weekend. And this year’s lineup of satellite broadcasts from the national Bioneers conference in San Rafael, California, will feature keynotes from Michael Pollan (author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma) and Dr. Andrew Weil, one of America’s most prominent integrative physicians.

"This year’s conference offers more activities and workshops during more parts of the day than ever before," says Sarna Salzman, one of the organizers of this year’s Bioneers conference. "We are inspired by the speakers beamed from California, but we also realize that sitting in an auditorium for four hours is not everyone’s cup of tea."

Three nights of live music will break up the jam-packed lineup of workshops and speakers. The acclaimed one-man jam band, Keller Williams, provides the official Bioneers kickoff concert on Thursday night at the Traverse City Opera House, while a talented roster of folk musicians from Earthwork Music, a local musicians’ collective, takes the stage Friday night with performances by Seth Bernard, May Erlewine and Breathe Owl Breathe.

Funk band, Jamie Register and The Glendales, closes out the weekend entertainment on Saturday night.

For a complete lineup of workshops and entertainment at the 2009 Great Lakes Bioneers Conference, or to register for the event, visit

Quick Links to More Fun in the Traverse City region

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