Stay tuned for the 2018 Spring Conference Information. It’s our 25th Annual event so it’s going to be good. Below are the details from the 2017 event.
2017 Conference Instructors
Alan Muskat, No Taste Like Home
Alan is a leader in the mushroom and wild foods movements and has been taking people “out to eat” for over 20 years. “Wild foods,” says Alan, “are a way of feeling at home in the world: that we are continually provided for and never alone.”
Alexander Meander, Ardea Homestead Sanctuary
Alexander Meander is a feral homesteader and advocate of Wild Nature. He and his partner Stacey dwell at Ardea, sixty acres of forest and field in Cleveland County, NC. Alex is (mostly) self-taught on a wide range of topics that, collectively, tend human biology through ecological stewardship.
Alice Percy, Fedco Seeds
Coordinator of the Organic Growers Supply division at Fedco Seeds in Clinton, ME with ten years of experience raising certified organic pastured hogs at Treble Ridge Farm in Whitefield, ME.
Althea Raiford, Gilliard Farm
Althea is a farmer, electrician, teacher, and retired US military. She draws continuous inspiration from the hard work and relentless spirit of those that came before her. Her passion to reclaim Gilliard Farms comes from her love and appreciation for her family’s legacy and her family’s future.
Amy Fox, Fox Farm & Forage LLC
Amy Fox, RN-BSN, is the owner of Fox Farm & Forage LLC which supplies several local farmers markets, specialty grocers, distributors, and numerous finer restaurants in the North Carolina Triangle area with a variety of gourmet mushrooms and foraged goods.
Andrew Goodheart Brown
Andrew, a 40 year resident of WNC, is a passionate home orchardist with over 46 varieties grown ecologically. He is an international consultant in small-scale sustainable agriculture projects, an endangered species observer, field biologist, naturalist, permaculturist, gourmet natural food cook, educator, gardener, and beekeeper.
Angie Lavezzo, Sow True Seed
As a gardener for over 20 years and a seed saver for 10 of those years, the magic of a sprouting seed is still Angie’s favorite thing. Her job as General Manager for Sow True Seed gives her a perfect outlet for her passion for seeds and plants, and good balance to her home life, where she is a farmer, beekeeper, maker of things, and an avid reader.
Benjamin Portwood, EYG Landscapes
Benjamin Portwood has been working with perennial agriculture, edible landscaping, and rainwater harvesting since graduating from Montsant Permaculture Institute in 2007. He is passionate about many permaculture practices, including rainwater harvesting.
Brandon Greenstein, Organic Growers School
Brandon is the Home-Grower Programs Director for OGS, developing new initiatives to provide services to home-growers. His background is in Renewable Systems, Earth Works, Energy, Water, Homesteading, and Permaculture. He offers consulting, design, and technical services for the creation of low impact and energy conserving systems through his company, Integrated Ecological Solutions.
Brant Bullock, King Family Farm & SPN
Brant Bullock, his wife and two kids operate the King Family Farm in Piney Flats, TN where they breed and raise poultry, swine, and beef. After being frustrated with the direction of industrial farming, they decided it was their mission to engage in traditional and sustainable farming methods.
Brian Rosa, BE New Organic World, LLC & Vermicycle Organics
Brian has more than 25 years’ experience in waste reduction and the composting industry. He is recently retired from NCDENR as the “Organics Recycling Specialist”. Over the last decade, Brian has delivered organics waste solutions to urban and agricultural clients across the globe.
Camperbob Jarrell, Goat Wagon Studio
Camperbob Jarrell has been tying and untying knots since way back in the last century. From field to forest to stone carvers studio, he has learned a thing or two and is happy to share the practical knowledge gleaned from successful (and unsuccessful) knot tying adventures.
Chris Link, Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy
Chris Link manages operations at the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy Community Farm, working to grow the infrastructure and Beginning Farmer Incubator Program. He holds a degree in planning & landscape architecture from Clemson University.
Chris Owen, Spinning Spider Creamery
Chris Owen and her family started working with dairy goats as a 4-H project and grew their passion into a successful artisan goat dairy, Spinning Spider Creamery. Their herd has become well known for its national champion Saanens. Raising goats with an eye toward conformation, productivity and health is the foundation of both their business and their family lifestyle.
Chris Smith, Sow True Seed
Chris Smith is an enthusiastic grower and permaculturalist from a green-thumbed family. He has immersed himself into the world of seed and southern growing. On his urban homestead, Chris is experimenting with landraces, selective seed saving, crop trials, grow outs and edible seed oils!
Christina Newhouse, Smoky Mountain High Tunnel Initiative
Christina lives on a four-acre farm in Murphy, NC alongside numerous animals and lots of green things. In 2014, she started a microgreen farm business called MIGHTY Greens Microgreens. Her goal is to foster small farm viability that caters to a local market and bring innovative techniques to our area.
Chuck Marsh, Living Systems Design/Useful Plants Nursery
Chuck Marsh is a pioneering Permaculture teacher, designer, community organizer, and horticulturist. He founded Useful Plants Nursery and is a senior partner at Living Systems Design. He works locally with Grow Food Where People Live and internationally with the Jamaican Sustainable Farm Enterprise Program.
Clark Barlowe, Heirloom Restaurant
Clark began his culinary career in his hometown of Lenoir, NC, where his family, which can be traced back 7 generations in North Carolina, was a constant source of inspiration for traditional Southern cooking techniques and ingredients.
CoreyPine Shane, Blue Ridge School of Herbal Medicine
CoreyPine Shane, RH (AHG) is Director of the Blue Ridge School of Herbal Medicine and has taught herbal medicine across the country and in Europe. He has spent over 20 years helping clients by artfully blending Chinese and Western herbal traditions with a focus on local plants.
Craig LeHoullier, Author
Craig LeHoullier, author of Epic Tomatoes and Growing Vegetables in Straw Bales, specializes in heirloom tomatoes. He is a tomato nut with a huge tomato and pepper and eggplant collection. (He also is the guy who named the Cherokee Purple!)
Dan Hettinger, Living Web Farms
As manager of the Living Web Farms Biochar facility, Dan and the crew are committed to implementing appropriate projects that close waste streams and maximize on-farm efficiency.
Dan Kittredge, Bionutrient Food Association
Dan operates a 24 acre farm which has 2.5 acres of intensive vegetable production. His is the Founder of the Bionutrient Food Association. He speaks to growers across the US.
Deanna Riggan, Momma Dee’s Remedies
Deanna Riggan runs Momma Dee’s Remedies:Gardening for your Healthcare and offers classes for kids, teenagers and adults on her homestead in Enka-Candler. She is a graduate from Warren Wilson College in 2011 where she was on the garden and herb crew. Deanna has apprenticed on farms around the world.
Diana McCall, Black Mountain Parks and Recreation
Diana manages the Dr. John Wilson Community Garden in Black Mountain which is home to nearly 70 gardening families, over 100 fruit and nut trees, mushroom logs, a native species trail and a biodynamic donation garden. Her work includes school garden programs, expanding community gardens, and partnering with numerous institutions to educate her community on how to grow, access and prepare healthy food.
Diane Almond, Bee City USA, BeeHab
Diane has kept bees for 16 years. As Master Beekeeper and Master Gardener she’s led workshops across the state, and is dedicated to demonstrating that, as her honey label proclaims, “We Are ALL Keepers of the Bees.”
Eatherly Schultz, Floressence Flowers
Eatherley Schultz has a background in organic farming, horticulture, landscape and floral design (all things plants!). She has worked on many vegetable and flower farms, nonprofit ag groups, owned a landscape design company, managed a 250 acre medicinal herb farm & currently owns Floressence Flowers
Eric Walker, University of Tennessee
Eric Walker was born and raised in Middle Tennessee on a tobacco and beef cattle farm. He has an Extension and research appointment with the University of TN and University of KY in the areas of tobacco and specialty crop production, including industrial hemp.
Gabe Brown, Brown’s Ranch
Gabe Brown, of Brown’s Ranch, is regenerating landscapes for a sustainable future. Gabe is a cover cropping and soil-building pioneer, speaking all over the world about the advantages of soil health. A North Dakota farmer with over 5000 acres in production, Gabe teaches techniques, that when applied in concert, can achieve similar success anywhere. The results of increased production, profit, and quality of life is the very definition of sustainability.
Holli Milner, Author
Holli studied Bilology at Georgia Southern University. She has written extensively on how agricultural practices affect soil microbial communities and health through the input of pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, and cycling of crop rotation.
Holly Rippon-Butler, National Young Farmers Coalition
Holly Rippon-Butler is the Land Access Program Director at the National Young Farmers Coalition. She also currently farms with her parents on their third-generation dairy and beef farm in Upstate New York.
Holly Whitesides, Against the Grain
Holly Whitesides farms in Zionville, NC. Against the Grain is a 35 acre diversified, direct market farm which is Certified Biodynamic and Organic. In addition to vegetables, the farm also produces Animal Welfare Approved chicken, turkey, pork, beef and goat.
Ira Wallace, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange
Ira Wallace, author of Vegetable Gardening in the Southeast, is a Master Gardener and a worker/owner of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. She serves on the boards of Organic Seed Alliance, Virginia Association for Biological Farming, and Organic Seed Growers Association, who are the lead plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Monsanto.
Jane Henderson, Commonwealth Farms
Jane has designed with local, seasonal floral materials for over 30 years. She grows cut flowers on 1.5+ acres in Concord, NC. Inspired by the daily gifts of Nature, she uses various strategies of season extension in order to provide unique floral designs 356 days a year.
Jeanine Davis, North Carolina State University
Jeanine Davis, Ph.D., is a researcher and extension specialist with NC State University where she runs a program dedicated to organic agriculture and alternative crops (e.g., hops, truffles, stevia, herbs). She is the lead author of Growing and Marketing Ginseng, Goldenseal and co-owner of Our Tiny Farm.
Jennifer Gerrity, Mountain Rose Herbs
Jennifer Gerrity is the Executive Director of Operations of Mountain Rose Herbs and has been with the company since 2004. She assures the overall inner workings by overseeing the staff and production with a special interest in procuring high quality organic herbs, spices, and teas for customers.
Jeramy Stauffer, Nanostead LLC.
Owner of Nanostead, a small scale living company, Jeramy has been building green homes in WNC for 12 years. Along with his wife and 2 children, he lives on a small farm in the Shelton laurel community of Madison County where they raise sheep and have a large garden.
Jill Sidebottom, North Carolina Cooperative Extension
Jill has worked for 28 years with the NC Cooperative Extension Service, currently in Mills River. She knows all about the pests and diseases of NC’s Christmas trees and forests, plus plenty about the beneficial pollinators native to our region.
Jim Adkins, Sustainable Poultry Network USA
For over 35 years Jim’s passion for heritage breed poultry has ignited local and regional food movements. He is the founder of the Sustainable Poultry Network, committed to “breeding, growing, and marketing poultry that can naturally reproduce, and be genetically maintained.”
Jim Hamilton, NC Cooperative Extension
Jim Hamilton is the County Extension Director for Watauga County and has worked with ginseng for the last 5 years. There he conducts or coordinates a wide variety of workshops and classes on wild ginseng harvesting and propagation.
Joel was raised on a farm in Southern Indiana where his family ran a small engine business and an organic vegetable farm. He has been using, maintaining, and selling high-quality garden tools for over 35 years.
Josh Fox, Fox Herbs & Acupuncture LLC
Josh Fox is a licensed acupuncturist and herbal clinician at Fox Herbs & Acupuncture, incorporating Chinese medicine and Western herbal studies into his practice. He is a core faculty member of the Blue Ridge School of Herbal Medicine and Daoist Traditions College of Chinese Medical Arts.
Jovan Sage, Activist
Jovan Sage is a food and social justice activist, and community and political organizer, as well as a pickler, fermentator, jam-maker, and herbalist. Her background in diversity and sustainability includes work as a food retail professional, a Network Engagement Director for Slow Food USA, and consultant with local, national and international non-profit organizations on sustainable food and agriculture.
Kim Bailey, Milkweed Meadows Farm
Kim has worked as an environmental educator for over 20 years. She first visited the monarch overwintering sanctuaries in Mexico in 2002 and has since co-led several trips to the area. She now grows milkweed, wildflowers, fruits, and vegetables at her family’s farm in Fruitland, NC.
Kimberly Woods, Homeopathy a Revolutionary Medicine
Kimberly Woods has completed master programs with two world renown European homeopaths. For 25 years, she has helped thousands of individuals suffering from severe physical problems to psychological illnesses.
Mark Dempsey, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association
Mark Dempsey is the Farm Services Coordinator at Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, helping farmers implement conservation practices and transition to organic production. His background is in soil microbiology, weed science, and cover crop research.
Mark Hare, Haiti Network, PCUSA
Mark Hare is the son of a Presbyterian minister. He started his international service with the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic. He became an Agronomist in Nicaragua in 1998 then to Haiti and the Dominican Republic in 2004. Since then he has served with the Farmer’s Movement of Papaye in Haiti.
Mateo Ryall, Herbs and Roots Nursery
Mateo Ryall has been learning about plants, mushrooms, trees and nature for the past 20 years while studying with some of the couintry’s top herbalists. He has taught mushroom identification and medicinal uses classes in western North Carolina. He owns the organic nursery and permaculture design business Herb and Roots and offer internships at the nursery where students learn about plant propagation, botanical and mushroom identification, herbalism, medical mycology and permaculture .
Matthew Bennett, Sundance Power Systems
Hailing from Athens, Ohio, with 22 years of solar experience, Matt joined Sundance Power Systems in 2014. Previously, he founded Dovetail Solar & Wind and became a NABCEP Certified PV Installer in 2003. He enjoys hiking, paddling, playing Ultimate and working on his homestead in Madison County.
Matthew Raiford, Gilliard Farms
CheFarmer Matthew Raiford, is the executive chef and owner at The Farmer and The Larder, featured in January 2016’s Garden & Gun as one of the South’s most exciting new restaurants. A classically trained French chef, Matthew served as the program coordinator and associate professor of Culinary Arts at the College of Coastal Georgia. Raiford is a farmer at Gilliard Farms in Brunswick, Ga. where he is the sixth generation to farm on the land that has been in his family since 1874.
Meagan Roberts, Upper Yadkin Heritage Poultry
Meagan Roberts is owner of Upper Yadkin Heritage Poultry in Happy Valley, NC. With her husband and children, she raises rare and endangered breeds of heritage chickens on pasture. She also teaches Sustainable Agriculture in Morganton, NC.
Meredith Leigh, The Ethical Meat Handbook
Meredith Leigh has, over the past 13 years, worked as a farmer, butcher, chef, teacher, executive director, shop owner, co-op founder, and writer, all in pursuit of sustainable food. She is a single mom, raising two boys, and is the author of The Ethical Meat Handbook.
Michael Farrell, Cornell University
Michael Farrell is the Director of Cornell University’s Maple Research & Education Center in Lake Placid, NY. There, he taps approximately 6,000 maples, 700 birch trees, and several dozen black walnut and butternut trees every year.
Michael Hopping, Asheville Mushroom Club
Michael Hopping is an amateur mycologist new enough to the field to remember what it’s like to be clueless. He has been an identifier for the Asheville Mushroom Club for three years. Along with Alan and Arleen Bessette he is at work on Mushrooms of the Carolinas, to be published by UNC Press.
Miguel Castillo, NCSU
Miguel S. Castillo is originally from Loja, Ecuador. He joined NCSU in 2013 and is an Assistant Professor of Grassland Agro-Ecosystems at the Soil and Crop Sciences Department.
Mike Weeks, Fifth Season Gardening Co.
Mike Weeks has been serving WNC farmers and gardeners for 13 years. He is the manager and owner of Fifth Season Gardening and is passionate about bringing knowledge to beginning and advanced gardeners in a language that is easy to comprehend.
Nancy Basket, Artist
Nancy Basket learned to make her first pine needle basket in 1980. For the past 15 years, she has shared her basketry and storytelling at Primitive Skills gatherings, Powwow, and through the National Indian Education Association.
Nancy Lee Adamson, Xerces Society & USDA NRCS East National Technology Support Center
Nancy is a bee biologist who supports conservation on farms through USDA-NRCS and is a Pollinatior Conservation Specialist with the Xerces Society.
Natalie Bogwalker, Wild Abundance School for Permaculture and Homesteading
Natalie Bogwalker practices and shares skills she considers vital to humanity’s future. She is the founder and director of Wild Abundance, a school focused on skills empowering adults and teens in using permaculture, primitive skills, organic gardening, wild foods and medicine, and farmsteading. Natalie also coordinates the Firefly Gathering.
Ned Ryan Doyle, Our Southern Community
Ned was an original Mother Earth News EcoVillage Research Center staffer and a workshop leader at Midwest Renewable Energy Fair for Humanure Composting. He has been a sustainable living advocate to 35 years. He was the former coordinator of the Southern Energy & Environment Expo and producer/host of Our Southern Community radio.
Noelle Fuller, University of Georgia
Noelle Fuller is a master’s student at the University of Georgia, with an interest in medicinal herbs, plant science, and nutrition. Her graduate research involves comparing the plant yield and the amount and composition of essential oils between holy basil varieties.
Osker Brown, Glorious Forest
Osker manages Glorious Forest, where he is working to develop wild staple foods, silvopasture, and coppice systems in rural Madison County.
Pam Dawling, Twin Oaks Community
Pam Dawling is the author of the book Sustainable Market Farming: Intensive Vegetable Production on a Few Acres. She also writes for Growing for Market magazine and manages the growing crew at Twin Oaks Community in central Virginia.
Pat Sommers, Natural Selections Nursery, Plants of the Southern Highlands
Pat Sommers owns Natural Selections Nursery where she grows Southern Appalachian native perennials from seed and spore. She also serves on the Asheville Botanical Garden’s Board of Directors and helps maintain the gardens there.
Patricia Allison, Earthhaven Ecovillage
Patricia Allison began teaching Permaculture Design Courses in 1994 and from there put down roots at Earthaven Ecovillage, a Permaculture-based intentional community near Black Mountain, NC. The focus of her teaching is the cultural underpinnings of sustainability, focusing on changing our everyday decisions to create a joyful and abundant future.
Patricia Kyritsi Howell, BotanoLogos School of Herbal Studies
Patricia Kyritsi Howell, RH (AHG), a practicing herbalist with more than 22 years of clincial experience, is the director of the BotanoLogos School of Herbal Medicine in the north Georgia mountains. Her book, Medicinal Plants of the Southern Appalachians, is an essential reference for regional herbs.
Patryk Battle, Living Web Farms
Director of Living Web Farms. Patryk has worked for 40 years in all aspects of our food system to create socially and environmentally just and regenerative systems. He loves to cook and eat but often misses lunch! He is considered an expert on organic pest solutions.
Philip Renshaw, North Carolina Department of Agriculture – Meat and Poultry Inspection Division
Philip Renshaw is the Food Compliance Officer for NCDA, Meat and Poultry Inspecion Division. He is an expert on meat inspection laws and poultry products laws.
Phyllis Stiles, Bee City USA
The North American Pollinator Protection Campaign named Bee City USA® & Bee Campus USA founder/director, Phyllis Stiles, US Pollinator Advocate for 2015. Stiles has served non-profits in fields ranging from natural resource and farmland protection to civic leadership development.
Rachel Shopper, Naturalist
Rachel has lived and traveled extensively and studied permaculture design in Nicaragua and Asheville. She is an instructor at Muddy Sneakers and Forest Floor Wilderness. Rachel’s passion is connecting people with the natural world and all its wonders, and with themselves on a deeper level.
Richard Boylan works as an Area Extension Agent in the Watauga and New River Headwaters region to grow opportunities for diversified and sustainable agriculture. He also grows garlic and other crops in Watauga County at his Otus Branch Farm.
Robert Kane, Activist, Author
Robert Kane has a degree from NC State in Political Science: Law and Justice and has worked in State politics and public healthcare. Robert’s dedication to social justice is what drives his research and activism around medical marijuana. He has recently completed his first novel, “McTrumpet: A Love Story About America,” which will be released in early 2017.
Sam Humphrey, Farmer
Sam is very passionate about sustainable agriculture and pasture-raised poultry. Most recently, he was raising about 8,000 laying hens on about 200 acres of pasture. A graduate of Warren Wilson College in Environmental Science with a concentration in sustainable agriculture, he brings his passion to the classroom.
Sarah Eshan McKinney, Old World Honey
Beekeeper at Echo View Farm, Wild Mountain Bees President, instructor, and all the magical things involving bees, queens and bee supplies! Owner and Beekeepr at Old World Honey. Storyteller.
Sunil Patel, Patchwork Urban Farms
Farmer, permaculturalist, and food thought-leader, Patel has studied natural farming methods throughout the U.S. including 4-season biodynamic vegetables, managing a grass-fed dairy, making artisanal raw milk cheese, natural building, and helping maintain permaculture sites. Hailing originally from Pittsburgh, PA, he now lives in Asheville where he’s launched Patchwork Urban Farms.
Susannah Fotopulos, Plant the Seed
Plant the Seed is a not-for-profit program that creates outdoor classrooms in community and school gardens to educate and empower under-resourced young people. Susannah Fotopulos is Founder and Director.
Suzanna Denison, WNC FarmLink
Suzanna Denison is the land access coordinator for WNC Farm Link, a partnership facilitating successful relationships between farmers looking for land to farm, and landowners aspiring to keep their farm and forest land in agriculture.
Tim Burke, Idle Acres Farm
Tim has been a farmer, a father, a builder, a cook, a lover of all animals. Todays incarnation: a turkey farmer and a renovation contractor. He owns Idle Acres Farm in Nebo, NC.
Tim Spira, Author
Tim Spira shared his passion for plants with students, colleagues, and the general public for more than 30 years, including 9 years as a faculty member at Georgia Southern University and 22 years at Clemson University. He has authored two wildflower books.
Tom Celona, Nutty Buddy Collective
Tom Celona has been planting and maintaining perennial food installations in Asheville for five years through the Buncombe County Fruit and Nut Club. The club operates exclusively under volunteer effort and without grants. He is an owner of Nutty Buddy Nurseries and the Nutty Buddy Collective.
Trad Cotter, Mushroom Mountain
Tradd Cotter is a microbiologist, professional mycologist, and organic gardener who has been studying native fungi in the Southeast for more than 22 years. In 1996 he founded Mushroom Mountain, which explores applications for mushrooms in various industries and currently maintains over 200 species of fungi for food production, mycoremediation, and alternatives to pesticides.
Vail Dixon, Simple Soil Solutions
Vail Dixon is a regenerative farmer and holistic grazing mentor. Founder of Simple Soil Solutions, she specializes in repairing damaged soil biologically . Her farm is a regional training center for regenerative farming that integrates Holistic Management, Permaculture, and Biological Farming.
Vanessa Campbell, Full Sun Farm
Vanessa Campbell, along with her husband, has been growing vegetables, cut flowers, and strawberries in the Asheville area since 1996 and has been a board member of the Organic Growers School since 2010. She uses natural growing methods and sells her bounty at two farmers markets and through a small CSA.
William Padilla-Brown, MycoSymbiotics
William Padilla-Brown is a Multi-Disciplinary Social Scientist. He directs a non-profit in New Cumberland called Community Compassion, and Operates MycoSymbiotics LLC, a small mycological research and mushroom production business.
Zev Friedman, Living Systems Design
Zev Friedman is a leading permaculture designer, researcher, teacher, and writer in western North Carolina. He grew up in a patch of kudzu in Sylva, NC and received his B.S. in Human Ecology from University of North Carolina Asheville. Zev specializes in hands-on, in-depth education in permaculture and earthskills.