by Rita Gowler
Let me tell you the corny story about my experience with the Organic Growers School Spring Conference. The seed was planted in my brain about six years ago when I found out about Organic Growers School Spring Conference. I had seen the announcement in an email from Southern Seed Exposure. Immediately, I called my bud, Maria, and told her I herd about a good conference. We both have degrees in horticulture, but were working in other fields. We had to find out what’s the big dill about this conference.
At one point I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go, but she said, “Don’t be chicken!” So we farmed out the kids to neighbors and husbands and hopped in her Subaru Forester. Having roots in Atlanta, we drove up and stayed in a hotel the first year. Later, Maria transplanted herself to the Asheville area, so every year now, I drive from Atlanta and stay with her, making it a little more sustainable on my wallet.
Every year we plow our way through the catalog and harvest the best of the lectures. We glean all the information we can at workshops, even though at times we are a little sheepish. It’s food for thought. From the lectures, we have learned that mossing is a verb and that there’s mushroom for improvement in farming and gardening. We have become followers of Chuck Marsh and Zev Friedman. And you can’t go wrong with instructors named Frost, Meadows, and Eggers.
There are always a wide range of classes offered. It’s great, as well, mingling with the other attendants and finding common ground. We are definitely a breed of our own. While digging deeper and deeper into these meetings, we also decided to volunteer. We wormed our way into various volunteer jobs: monitoring a classroom became a good way to unearth some secrets about gardening and farming while helping out.
In no time, the ideas from the classes began to germinate at home. We added various plants from elderberry to filberts at our homesteads, became experts at composting and improved our soil tremendously. For our health benefits, we sowed seeds of Calendula and Echinacea. Straw became our friend. We fine-tuned our succession crops. We made a Hugelkultur and informed our families that we were not fermenting German beer. We even began eating our weeds like lambsquarters and dandelions instead of eradicating them. Applying what we have learned from the lectures is the cream of the crop. Lettuce never forget the skills we gathered. I think that we will be using these tools forever.
The Organic Growers School Spring Conference has become a perennial favorite of mine. I have loved every conference from my head tomatoes! For both of us, it has become a permanent part of our culture, in other words a permaculture. Most importantly, we learned to bee happy with whatever lecture we attended because they are all fruitful. I only wish my PawPaw could have attended. He was a farmer and an avid gardener. I certainly inherited my interest in plants from him. He would have agreed that this conference can’t be beet.
Organic Growers School is a non-profit organization providing organic education since 1993. Our mission is to inspire, educate, and support people in our region to farm, garden, and live organically.