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.

Pre-Conference Workshops

March 10th, 2017, 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM – 3 workshops to choose from!

For registered attendees, details and logistics for these workshops can be found here.

Treating the Farm as an Ecosystem

with Special Guest, Gabe Browngabebrown
Friday, March 10, 2017, 9:30 to 4:30
At Living Web Farm, Mills River, NC
$55 with weekend registration, $70 without
Gabe’s Bio Here. Logistics & Details here.

Register Here

Soil, water, and sunlight.  It is from these resources that all life develops.  It is also from these resources that farmers make their living.  And in order to ensure both our current success and the sustainability of future generations, we must regenerate our landscapes. Learn about how Brown’s Ranch, located near Bismarck, ND uses cover crops, zero-till, crop and livestock diversity, pasture recovery, and high density grazing as key tools to increase yield, profit, and efficiency. Their ever evolving strategies have significantly improved the mineral and water cycles, allow for 9+ months of grazing, and increase the topsoil and thereby the health of the entire farm.

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Learn these replicable techniques in this full-day workshop, which will cover the following:

  • History of Brown’s Ranch
  • Soil Health: The soil beneath us is alive!  There are more organisms in a teaspoonful of healthy soil than there are people on earth.  Learn about:
    • Growing Topsoil
    • Cover Crop Mixes (to address resource concerns).
    • Armor the Soil: Keeping the ground covered at all times.
  • Animal Integration
    • Using livestock as a tool
    • Genetic selection, birthing dates
    • Benefits of species diversity
    • Holistic Management
  • Maximizing income potential through:
    • Stacked Enterprises
    • Synergy Between Enterprises

For farmers who are interested but need scholarship assistance, please contact or

author-hen-on-arm-3in-300-dipChickens & You:From Egg to Table

with Special Guest, Pat Foreman
Friday, March 10, 2016, 9:30 to 4:30
Franny’s Farm in Leicester, NC
$55 with weekend registration, $70 without
Pat’s Bio Here. Logistics & Details here.

Register HereThere is a back to the land movement and it’s happing in backyards and on small parcels across the world. Raising chickens is fun, empowering, and assures that your food is grown that way you want it: clean soils, heritage breeds, and with proper and high quality food inputs. Some people are finding they can’t eat commercial poultry because of food allergies and sensitives to the grain that the birds eat. With pastured production methods and heritage birds, you can become a backyard poultry grower and raise birds that you couldn’t otherwise source or afford. Learn everything you need to know from egg to table for small-scale backyard chicken operation including how to minimize work and maximize production and how to have fun doing it. Keep you and your family good health—occupy your backyard with chickens! In this all-day workshop, we’ll cover:
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The Art & Practice of Incubation: Incubation is critical to sustainability. Understand how to successfully raise replacement birds for the rest of your life. Through learning about embryology and seeing into eggs at different stages of development you will have the basics to become a solid incubator. We’ll cover:

  • Selecting eggs
  • The incubating process both artificially and with broody hens.
  • Broody hen management & feeding.
  • Hatching eggs (pipping).
  • The critical first week of chick-hood.
  • Chick nutrition for optimal health.
  • Primary chick health care.
  • Chick-ability and why you must understand it as a life or death matter

Yard Pastured Poultry: Learn how you can turn your yard into a mini pasture and raise heritage birds in small batches throughout the seasons for year-round food. Practical and effective ways to employ chickens on the farm, garden, and homestead. We’ll cover:

  •   Use your yard as a mini-pasture (including rotational grazing systems)
  •   Chickens build topsoil, enrich soil fertility, and control insects, including ticks and fleas.
  •   Home-grown food sources, how chickens forage, what they prefer to eat, and how to provide fresh graze.
  •   Fencing, what works, and what doesn’t.
  •   Handling and communication for trust, gentleness and an emotional bond.
  •   Birdscaping, which is planting trees, shrubs. perennials and annuals that your flock will perpetually love.

Home Processing—Using Tools You Already Have or Can Make: Process your own chickens for healthy, high-quality meat and bones. You don’t need thousands of dollars of equipment to process birds. Learn how to humanely, safely, sanitarily and skillfully process your birds. Harvest as needed or all at once. We’ll cover:

  •   The power of knowing your meat source, how it was raised, fed and processed
  •   The sacred significance of taking a life—so that you can live
  •   The science & chemistry behind skilled meat processing
  •   Processing equipment that you have—or could easily borrow
  •   Hand plucking made fun
  •   Super simple evisceration & an educational anatomy lesson
  •   Nutritional differences of meat from heritage vs. commercial breeds
  •   Cold shorting & effective freezer packaging for long-term storage


For more information and to register.


Beginning Forest Farming: Cultivating Crops Under the Canopy

Friday, March 10, 2017, 9:30 to 5:30
Location: Mountain Horticultural Crops Research & Extension Center, 455 Research Drive, Mills River, NC 28759
$55 with weekend registration, $70 without
Instructor Bio’s Here. Logistics & Details here.

Register Here

Most farms and homesteads in Western NC and the Southern Appalachians contain forested land. Forest farming is a practice of cultivating medicinal, edible, decorative, and handicraft crops under a forest canopy, a unique habitat to produce non-timber forest products and the Appalachian region contains native habitat for more than 15 forest farmable plants. Due to an ever-increasing market (one billion dollars annually in the US and rising), forest-based production can contribute to the financial equation for regional farmers.

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Yet forest farmers need technical, administrative, market, sales, and regulatory training.

This full-day workshop will provide an overview of forest farming from the forest floor to the shelf. We’ll explore the basics of growing woodland medicinals, the economics of forest products, value-added and natural product development, options for third party verification for forest grown products, and dialogue with advanced forest farmers. Academic and industry experts will address regionally adapted, sustainable forestry operations from propagating and cultivating, to harvesting, processing and marketing native herbs. Participants will gain in-depth knowledge on a variety of plants including ginseng, goldenseal, black cohosh, ramps, and more.

  • Session 1: Growing Forest Botanicals: Introduction to Forest-Grown Medicinals Including:  How to Grow, Harvest, and Dry the Plants Most in Demand
  • Session 2: Issues Specific to Ginseng Production Including: Unique Growing, Harvesting, and Drying Methods, Wildlife, and Protection Theft
  • Q & A: Question and Answer Panel with Speakers and Several Experienced Growers
  • Session 3: Rules and Regulations for Growing these Plants Including: State and Federal Regulations, GAPs and GMPs, and How they Apply to Growing Forest Botanicals
  • Session 4: Selling Your Product: Marketing and Branding Including: Value-Added Products, Markets, Consumers, & Third Party Verifications.
  • Session 5: Buyers Perspective Including: Large and Small Buyers, Local and Domestic
  • Q & A: Question and Answer Panel with speakers and industry experts

The goal of this workshop is to train beginning forest farmers, both novices and experienced farmers, landowners and land lessees, to develop income streams and economic growth while also promoting forest health and diversity.

This one-day workshop is offered in collaboration with the Appalachian Beginning Forest Farmer (ABFF) Program, which is dedicated to increasing opportunities for farmers and forestland owners in Appalachia and beyond who are interested in starting or expanding/diversifying a forest farming operation. Join the ABFFC coalition to become part of the movement! Info here.