Class and Half-Day Workshop Descriptions
25th Annual Spring Conference // March 9–11, 2018
Optional Half-Day Workshops
Equipment Repair & Maintenance
Save time and money by doing your own repairs. Diagnose and repair common problems with 2 and 4-stroke engines. Avoid costly repairs by learning maintenance, proper fluids, and appropriate settings. A two-wheeled tractor will be on site for demos.
Fermenting at Home
These living foods are rich in vital elements that aid gut health, brain development, mood, and overall well-being. Expect start-to-finish instructions including hands-on demo, list of equipment and materials, detailed techniques, handouts, questions, and troubleshooting. You’ll soon be fermenting!
Diane Almond & Sarah McKinney
Learn what’s involved with the magic of honeybees–time, money, equipment, and management options and issues to enjoy and sustain healthy hives. Class will be taught through powerpoint, beekeeping equipment, and handouts.
Growing Fruit & Nut Trees
James Geoffery Steen
Plant and maintain your own fruit and nut trees, whether in the backyard or on the farm. Covers: varieties of edible bushes, vines, and trees from A to Z; pruning and training young fruit trees; and grafting apples to take home.
Tree Identification in the Southern Blue Ridge
Learn about families, genera, and species of regional trees and practical tips to aid in identification. The details of leaves, twigs, bark, seeds, and smells will help you develop a deeper relationship with the wide range of our rooted neighbors.
Increasing Farm Profits
The goal is to keep more money in our pockets! Get excited about record keeping, finding your actual costs, and analyzing your farms numbers. Make data driven decisions and implement new strategies with big financial impact. Group exercises, brainstorms, handouts.
Building Soil Health
Step-by-step, A-Z explanation to implement a no-till system on your farm or homestead. Assess your resource concerns, conduct testing that mimics nature, discover soil baselines, use biological organic additives, and create a solid plan with best practices for your specific systems.
Learn about do-it-yourself propagation, growing, harvesting, processing, and use of over a dozen important plants. Grow these useful plants in your own home and garden and improve your health and your family’s health… Right here, right now!
Foundations of a Citywide Food System
Patchwork Urban Farms is working to create the foundation for a sustenance food system for the city of Asheville. Learn about the history and vision of the project, how to get involved, and how to support its future trajectory.
Forageable Communities – Cultivating a Resilient Future Together
A forageable community is a collective of local food businesses working to increase the public’s active participation in local foodways by enhancing place-based programs and regional resilience. Learn more about projects in Morganton, Durham, and Asheville. Become a catalyst in your community!
Community Leadership & Participation to Increase Food Access & Quality
Ameena Batata & Olufemi Lewis
Transforming social systems is required for long-term food systems change. This change must involve power and decision-making among ALL community members. Explore promising approaches and collaborations in WNC and discuss strategies for cultivating food equity and sovereignty in our region.
Edible Parks & Public Perennial Foodscapes
Perennial edible landscapes provide pollinator support, ecosystem services, and food, all while enhancing outdoor recreation experiences. Learn how-to and why-to create food abundance for all to enjoy, while drawing the human animal back outdoors. Plant a legacy to benefit future generations.
The ancient art of mead making mixes honey with fruit, flowers, roots and herbs to create beverage bliss. We’ll cover handling, harvesting, and preparing ingredients including ratios and qualities of sweeteners and yeasts, and bottling and storing. The focus is on wild, open, and cultured fermentation.
Holistic Homestead Nutrition
Holistic human nutrition through the lens of a homestead ecosystem including: body, soil, garden and kitchen. We’ll discuss crop planning guided by nutrition, nutrient cycling, microbiomes of the earth and the gut, cooking skills, and how to have a thriving life.
Canning, Pickling, and Preserving
Description coming soon…
Healthy Soul Food
Gene Ettison & Hanan Shabazz
Description coming soon…
Acorns served as the predominant staple food for our species for millennia. In this class we will discuss all aspects of harvest, storage, processing, and cooking this abundantly available high quality food.
Introduction to Birds & Bird Language
Luke Cannon & Clint Corley
Come join us for this remarkable and fun presentation on the lives of birds, their vocalizations and how we can interpret their meanings for greater understanding of the natural world.
Wild Tales – Strange but True Adventures in the Natural World
Have you ever dined with a groundhog, been swallowed by a snake, grappled with a swarm of bees, or read handwriting on the back of a trout? Natural history, traditional lore, regional dialects, soulful harmonica riffs, and belly laughs await.
Come practice the fine art of fire building! Participants will collect and prepare fire materials, learn about the benefits and uses of different fire structures, and light and tend a fire.
Stay Sharp! Blade & Tool Care
Tool care and maintenance for the homesteader, outdoor enthusiast, gardener, and hunter including blade angles, varieties, and maintenance tips. Learn to sharpen knives, trimmer, chainsaws, shovels, razors, and more.
Growing Cut Flowers
Annie Louise Perkinson
Grow cut flowers for market sales every week. Learn about season extension, crop planning, harvest and packaging, best practices, and tricks of the trade.
Essential Tools for the Small-Scale Vegetable Farmer
Discover the essential tools and equipment needed to operate a small market-vegetable farm. We’ll cover tool application, selection, ergonomics, use and maintenance.
Introduction to Biodynamics
Biodynamic Farming is a method of organic production that includes tracking the lunar and planetary cycles and the use of natural preparations to increase nutrition and fertility. Learn basic production, preparation application, and certification details.
Beginning Farm Marketing
Explore the various market channels available to market farmer: wholesale, farmers markets, CSA, and farm stand — attributes, limitations, possibilities. How might these options fit your business, crop mix, and temperament? What is your value statement and why do you need one?
Vegetables, Hops & Industrial Hemp-Variety Trial Results for Your Farm
Local, replicated, and unbiased variety trials are one of the most important services for experienced growers. Learn about the results from regional trials and provide feedback for upcoming trials. Come prepared to share your own experiences and learn from others.
Large-Scale Medicinal Herb Farming
Learn about the ins and outs of medicinal herb farming on a large scale. We will cover necessary equipment and infrastructure, land considerations, processing, labeling, marketing, and governmental regulations.
Organic Pest Management
Explore: What diseases and insects are significant for vegetables and fruits in the Carolinas? Which tools you should have in your pest management toolbox? How should organic growers navigate regulations specific to pest management and pest control materials?
The Art & Science of Cover Cropping
Limit erosion, suppress weeds, enhance nutrient and water availability, increase nitrogen, and improve soil health through effective use of cover crops. Learn planting strategies using a no-till drill, seeding rates, and seasonal, home-made blends for maximum benefits.
Principles of Biological Farming Systems
Efficient and ecologically sensitive production happen as we learn about what plants need to flourish. Create those conditions by exploring practices and strategies to maintain air, water, life, minerals and food in the soil.
From Africa to Appalachia
Discover the traditional sustenance gardening techniques of West Africa and their relation to modern farming in Appalachia. Learn about the historical crops that made their way from Africa to the US and the array of nutritious varietals useful in the garden.
Organic Gardening 101
The basics of starting and maintaining an organic vegetable and herb garden including starting seeds under cover, soil preparation, setting seedlings, and direct sowing. We’ll also discuss composting, mulching, weed control, watering, harvesting, and storage of your crop.
Hear stories from her inner city Bronx farm and from around the country as growers are changing the narrative of food, land, and farmer from from one of “impossible and demeaning” to respectful, honorable, and important.
Growing Sweet Potatoes from Start to Finish
Grow your own sweet potato slips; plant them, cultivate healthy crops, and harvest good yields. Learn to select suitable roots for growing next year’s slips as well as how to cure and store roots for top quality and minimal losses.
Herbs, Slavery & the South
Newly enslaved Africans carried fragments of culture, music, folklore, social structure, and spiritual beliefs to the plantations of America. These African roots were passed down in a rich and lasting oral tradition that survives today. Discover this ancient art of healing.
Rebecca R. Word
Learn the basics of natural healing and at-home applications to foster vitality. Discover the differences, strengths and weaknesses of healing modalities such as naturopathy, herbs, homeopathy, acupuncture, functional and integrative medicine, and how they work. You are your own best doctor.
Medicinal Plants – The Human Connection
Expect lively and informative as well as practical, scientific, and cultural knowledge of useful wild plants.
Growing Your Medicine
Cassandra Lee Nicholson
Integrate healing plants into YOUR life, landscape, and permaculture design. We’ll cover research-based mental, physical and emotional benefits of growing herbs as well as tips to select easy-to-grow perennials.
Grow & Press Your Own Seed Oil
Growing and pressing edible and cosmetic oils is much easier than you think. Discover suitable regional nut and seed crops; the benefits and challenges; a seed press demo; and samples. Support regional food systems by pressing your own oil!
Seed to Stem – Using the Whole Plant
Get as many yields from a single plant by applying a stem to stamen mentality. Okra seed flour, pickled radish pods, winter squash seed oil, blueberry leaf tea and roasted broccoli stems. Unlock the secondary and tertiary yields from crops.
Introduction to Homestead Dreams
Planning can help manifest your desires. Discover your values, skills, and resources as you chart a path towards your vision. Enhance your confidence, hone your focus, boost your creativity, and generate inspiration for the lifestyle you imagine.
Sustainable Living for Urban Homesteads
You can live a natural life in the city! Tales from my urban homestead including: rocket Mass heater, natural building, charcoal-creating cookstoves, solar ovens, food drying, water catchment, orchards, propagation, perennial staple crops, and how to skin a squirrel.
Is BioChar a Revolution?
Soils catalyzed with Biochar are resplendent with billions of microbes, millions of fungi, and thousands of other organisms. Learn the history, humanity, and adaptability of this biological material (BIO) that has been converted to charcoal (CHAR), which is directly linked to available carbon.
A primer for successful development of your gridless homestead. Topics include whether or not to buy land, how to produce an income from heritage trades, and how to embrace the pioneer spirit while also living in modern times.
Backyard Rabbitry for Food
Learn how to raise meat rabbits for food on the homestead. Short history of meat rabbit breeds and production. Review of breed selection, feeding, health, production and housing considerations.
Understanding the Nutritional & Ecological Benefits of Locally Finished Beef
Providing information and introducing systems to produce locally finished beef. Alternative production systems will be discussed including benefits to the environment and implications for human health.
Understanding Rumen Function
Are grass-based diets superior for ruminant animals? We’ll break down the fascinating world of the rumen, how it works, how animals absorb nutrients, the effects of grass vs. grain, the implications on animal and human nutrition, herd performance, and carcass quality.
Local Meat Enterprises
A systems view of evolving local foodshed dynamics, as they pertain to specialty meat production. We’ll discuss what can be learned from the successes and failures of the high-welfare protein sector, and look through the lens of community-driven economic development.
DIY Water Systems for the Homestead
Beth & Shawn Dougherty
Versatile, resilient water systems are essential to truly sustainable farming. We’ll review twenty years of hacks for capturing natural water sources (rainwater, ponds, streams, springs), and employing low- or no-energy-input water systems for gardens and livestock.
The Homestead Dairy Cow
Beth & Shawn Dougherty
Safe, wholesome raw milk is rocket fuel that powers the whole homestead. Explore selecting, buying, and caring for a cow. Also, the basics of grazing, fencing, milking, shelter, breeding, calf care, and feeding calves, pigs, poultry and garden with extra milk.
Mushroom Identification 101 – How do I Know if it’s Edible?
Identify mushrooms that are common in the Southern Appalachians. Look at the features that are used to differentiate mushrooms and learn to distinguish some of the most important fungal families. Suitable for mushroom beginners.
How to Grow Mushrooms on Logs & In the Garden
Successfully grow shiitakes at home by learning to select logs, choose spawn varieties, tools and techniques for a winter inoculation party, maintenance, and harvesting. Once your mushrooms are “planted,” be rewarded with 3-5 years of tasty, nutrient-rich harvests.
Farming with Fungi
Discover integrated mushroom cultivation, regional varieties, and specific techniques for operational farms to add this money-making, value added product.
Reishi – Magic, Medicine & Mystery
A look at the medicinal benefits of the Ganoderma mushrooms through the lense of Western science, Chinese medicine, Daoist philosophy, and energetic medicine.
Learn the basics of this essential design system. Develop a toolkit for designing your home, gardens, and life. Using common-sense principles, you will learn to see consequences before acting, therefore avoiding mistakes and saving time, energy, and money.
Patterns in Nature & Their Applications
Numerous patterns exist in nature, waiting to be discovered by the interactive observer. Learn to look at those patterns and discover practical ways to apply them in designing your landscape, farm, and life.
Nomadiculture – Permaculture for Non-Landowners
From guerrilla gardening and grafting to gleaning and wild-harvesting, mushrooms grown in buckets to permaculture in pots, there’s no need to wait for the homestead of your dreams. Explore the use of permaculture principles, strategies, and techniques for non-landowners.
John Henry Nelson
Understand how to manipulate the landscape for the best possible homestead or farm design. Plan for water harvesting, terracing, swales, ponds, wetlands, irrigation, water resiliency and more, using hardscaping and earthwork design techniques.
Carbon Farming, Mutual Aid & Democratic Renewal – Societal-Scale Permaculture
Will humans survive? Will we find ingenuity for a future? Ecosystems use nested layers of co-operation and lots of experimentation. Delve into permaculture at a societal and global scale: transformative physical, social, and economic strategies to help systems rapidly adapt.
Shrubs, Trees & Cover Crops for Pollinators, Predators & Parasitoids
Nancy Lee Adamson
Native shrubs, trees, and annual cover crops support pollinators, can provide additional income with nuts, berries, or ornamental cuttings (such as pussy willow or oakleaf hydrangea), as well as crucial watershed protection. Support the bees, wildlife, and your own abundant harvests.
Holistic Gardening – Pollinators, Beneficial Insects & Companion Plants
Discuss the benefits of attracting pollinators and other beneficial insects to your vegetable gardens such as boosting natural pest control, increased yields, and overall beauty. Learn the plants to choose and how to landscape to maximize their potential.
How Gardeners Can Save the World
An overview of pollinator decline, why pollinators are essential to planetary resilience especially in the face of climate change, and how gardeners can contribute to reversing pollinator declines in meaningful and impactful ways.
Getting to Know Your Pollinators
Jill R. Sidebottom
Bees? Wasps? Flies? Beetles? Many of them mimic each other! Which are pollinators? Which are beneficial? Which are scary? Get to know what’s buzzing around your flowers in WNC, how they help you, and how you can help them.
Organic Approved Pesticides – Minimizing Risks
Jill R. Sidebottom
Organic approved pesticides can still have an adverse effect on bees and other pollinators. Learn which organic materials may cause problems, how to minimize those risks, and some alternatives.
Monarch Habitats & Their Farm Benefits
Growing milkweed and providing a succession of nectar plants through the season can not only enhance monarch habitat but attract other pollinators and beneficial insects, create agro-tourism and environmental education opportunities, showcase land stewardship efforts, and provide marketable products.
We’ll discuss the why’s and how’s of raising turkeys (up to 3,000 birds) as a viable business for homesteaders and farmers. Specifics include: how to choose breeds, where to source poults, and best practices for housing, feed, husbandry and processing.
Basic Poultry Husbandry & Management
Best practices in caring for chicks including housing, husbandry, feed, biosecurity and disease prevention.
Your Poultry Options – Science, Secrets, Politics & What Poultry Option is Best
Properly selected and managed, poultry serve as wonderful tools for the sustainable homestead. Get meat and eggs, soil improvement, and enjoyment. Explore both chicken and duck poultry options, why a poultry flock is important, heritage breeds vs. industrial breeds, and where to source your birds.
Home Poultry Processing
Process your own birds for healthy, high-quality meat and bones. No need for expensive equipment. Learn how to humanely, safely, sanitarily and skillfully process your birds. Harvest as needed or all at once. Simple anatomy, storage, plucking, and science lessons.
Soil is complex, but with some basic knowledge of how soil works, you can farm better. Come learn how the many properties of soil interact, and how you can manage for both healthy soil and healthy plants.
Introduction to Soil Amendments
Learn the basic amendments traditionally added to organic gardens and small farms (Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium), the roles they play in the soil, and alternatives such as cover crops. Also: what your soil needs, benefits of each amendment, maximizing bio-availability.
The Ecology of Soil Management
An introduction to the ecology of soils and how soil management can enhance soil ecosystems. Emphasis on building healthy soils from an ecological perspective.
Farm-Scale Composting – Evaluating the Role of Compost on Your Farm
Ellen, the compost “queen” since 1995 learned how to make CMC compost and helps other implement systems. Learn about what compost is, windrow composting systems, styles and levels of intensity, and the beautiful complexity of high quality compost.
Nitrogen Availabiilty & Your Crops – What You Need to Know About This Important Nutrient
Enough nitrogen at the right time is critical for good yields, yet management is complex. Temperature, rainfall, composition of fertilizer, and biological activity all affect when and how much is available. Understand nitrogen cycling and make the most of your nitrogen sources.
Ecologically Beneficial Forestry
EcoForesters is a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving and restoring our Appalachian forests. Learn the current state of forests in WNC, the challenges they face, and how to improve forest health and biodiversity while making some income through active stewardship.
Organic Home Orchards
Andrew Goodheart Brown
Growing non-toxic fruit in western NC (as well as the southeast in general) can be tricky. Everything one needs to know to grow organic fruit successfully: what to grow (and why); where to site plantings; initial and ongoing care; and more.
Introduction to Truffles & Truffle Farming
All aspects of truffles and truffle orchard management, including truffle species, host trees, orchard establishment, orchard management, marketing, harvesting, and truffle business management.
Native Nuts from Mast to Mouth
Our native nuts offer benefits to the human race socially, economically, nutritionally and environmentally. Learn the nuts with the most potential for new industry. Also efficient foraging, storage, cooperative processing, social “nutwork” marketing, and creating a Nutopia.
Solar PV for Home & Farm
Apply the most current solar technology and equipment to your home or farm, including battery storage options. Discuss the current financial incentives, such as federal tax credits and the solar rebate program for Duke customers in NC.
DIY Farm Hacks
An array of innovative farm tools and hacks designed to increase efficiency, profits, and production in small scale farming. Including DIY Paper Pot Transplanter, Roller Crimper, Cover Crop Cutter, Seed Germination Chamber, Mobile Barn, and Solar Powered Essential Oil Distiller.
TLUD: DIY Carbon Negative Cookstoves
The TLUD gasifier is a bedrock of appropriate technologies. Top-Lit Up-Draft Gasifiers are simple appliances for cooking, heating and production of biochar from woody biomass feedstocks. Learn the nuances of operating a TLUD for biochar production and insights for DIY builders.
Compact House Design
Learn about small house design, construction, and living. We’ll look at sample materials and talk about building code basics and zoning.
Rainwater Harvesting is the new black! We’ll talk about the whys and hows of harvesting rainwater from your home or your land and how to best use it around your plants, and even in your house if you’re brave enough to try!
The Underground Railroad & the Soul Food Diet
Glimpse the food, housing, clothing, and treatment slaves received and how this influenced the “American way of life.” Also, discover food pyramids of various world cultures, the subtle migration of foods, and long term outcomes.
Shifting Power in Food Systems
Shift power from the industrial food system players back into community! Come and discuss institutional purchasing, prioritizing local foods, using an equity lens, and filling gaps at the local level.
Political Pathways to Pesticide-Free Communities
Learn strategies that communities are using to attain 100% organic status, including movements in Italy, Bhutan, Indian State of Sikkim, Switzerland, Denmark, and places untouched by pesticide-dependent agriculture. Sharing best practices helps all advocacy work. Pop-up art show accompanies talk.
Dirt First! The Regeneration Revolution
Who will cure disease? Reverse climate change? Feed the world? Farmers. Millions going back to the land to restore soil and produce nutrient dense food, while drawing carbon from the atmosphere will. Join the Regenerative Revolution! Farm Bill primer also discussed.
Real Food Campaign
Healthy food comes from healthy plants comes from healthy soils. A hand-held sensor to immediately measure nutrient density exists! We can now apply real economic pressure to support the farming we want. Discover this game-changing technology, strategy, and science.
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.