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We pride ourselves on bringing you down-to-earth advice on growing and sustainable living, while remaining affordable and accessible.  Take a look at the courses being offered for the 2nd Annual Harvest Conference on September 12, 2015!

Fall & Winter Growing Track

Extend the Growing Season

Extend the Growing Season with Randal Pfleger
Season extension permits year round harvests. Learn about low-cost, do-it-yourself structures to extend your season. Cold frames are simple structures used for year-round greens and starting seeds. Row Covers are woven fabrics or UV-rated plastics used to cover garden crops. Hoop Houses are freestanding permanent structures at a fraction of the cost of a traditional greenhouse. Greenhouses and Sunrooms will also be discussed.

Growing Great Garlic! with Christopher Fielden

In our area, garlic is planted in the fall and harvested in early summer. Growing garlic is easy, gratifying, and provides you with harvest all year long. This class covers all the basics of growing garlic, including choosing varieties, preparing beds, planting, mulching, overwintering, harvesting and curing, and saving your own seed garlic.

Year-Round Growing with Pat Battle

Create a calendar for year-round growing including when to start seeds, when and how to prepare beds, when to transition between seasons. Learn the fall and winter “Big Four” stars: Brassicas, Chenopodium, Unmbellifera, and Composits.

Cover Cropping for Home Gardens with Laura Lengnick

Cover crops offer many benefits to the home gardener.  Cover crops feed soil life and increase nutrient cycling to build soil health. Healthy soils resist erosion, suppress weeds, break pest cycles, and improve water availability to plants. Learn how to select, plant, rotate, and manage cover crops so that you can enjoy the benefits of soil health in your home garden.

Fermentation & Preservation Track

Pickle Your Harvest

Pickle Your Harvest with Janelle Lucido-Conate

Make delicious, beautiful, and appealing veggie pickles that the whole family is excited to eat. From cucumber pickles with barbeque or carrot pickles with hearty stew, these easy ferments add flavor and nutrition to every meal. Salt brining creates crunchy, textured and tasty pickle and increases the shelf life of your harvest. This easy process which works for much of your garden’s surplus: okra, green beans, radishes, beets, cauliflowers, carrots, cucumbers, onions, garlic, and more.

Discover Sourdough with Jennifer Lapidus

Leavened bread has been around for much longer than commercial baking yeast. Commercial baking yeast was developed in the name of progress, expedience, and predictability. It made the baker’s life a bit easier and transformed the craft of bread into the baking industry. But something was lost along the way— as bread production was propelled forward, flavor and nutrients were left behind. Natural leavening and sourdough employ slow fermentation, allowing for thorough integration of ingredients, resulting in the full flavor of REAL BREAD. Come learn the ART of natural leavenings.

DIY Food Dehydration with Doug Sharkey

Dehydration is one of the oldest ways of preserving food. Learn how to use solar energy to power your very own food dehydrator! Participants will learn the basic concepts of food dehydration, how solar food dryers work, and several types of dryers that they can build.

Home Cooking Track

5 Essential Staples with Diana Schmitt McCall

Stop wasting money on inferior quality condiments and learn to make them yourself quickly and with high quality, organic ingredients. Even the most timid home cook can make these five essentials: mayonnaise, dressing, ketchup, mustard, and hot sauce. Learn to source the best and healthiest oils, herbs, spices, and vinegars. Go home with recipes, ingredient lists, as well as loads of inspiration and confidence. You’ll never buy store-bought dressing again.

Make Your Own Pet Food with Kristi King

Come learn about the benefits of feeding a raw diet to your dog or cat (such as lean, strong muscles, clean teeth & shiny fur) and how to safely and easily prepare the food. We will be covering basic nutrition for dogs and cats, the ingredients necessary for a complete diet and review a sample recipe.

Nourishing Bone Broth with Kelli Elizabeth Kuhn

If you aren’t already making bone broth for health and nutrition, it’s not too late to start today. Bone broth is a mineral, protein, and collagen rich infusion, made by boiling bones and vegetables, to be used as a culinary base as well as healing tonic to boost the immune system, heal digestive issues, and support bone and tooth health. And it’s the most affordable nutrient dense food you can make. Learn the history, basic broth science and current research, the many health benefits, supplies needed, step-by-step instructions, recipes, and more.

Ethical Meats with Meredith Leigh

The commercial animal feed industry is the largest purchaser of GMO feed (soy, cotton, corn, canola, sugar beet, and alfalfa) and Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO’s) result in antibiotic-ridden meats and toxic pollution problems. What are our local options? Learn about where to source local, grass-fed meats, and learn the realities our community faces regarding non-GMO feed. We will also discuss buying and cooking tips that can stretch your dollar and help your farmer. Storage, preparation, and preservation tips will be offered.

Self-Reliance Track

Root Cellars: Design, Construction, and Use

Root Cellars: Design, Construction, and Use with Rod Bowling

Root cellaring was a crucial part of homesteading before refrigerators and year-round groceries. Using the earth’s naturally stable temperatures to store perishable items, it’s simple, low-tech, energy saving, and self-reliant. Rod will provide an overview of styles, building materials, DIY techniques, and usage.

Save Your Own Seeds with Chris Smith

A secure food system requires secure seeds. This hands-on class will give you the confidence and the knowledge to save your own. Learn practical elements of planting and isolation, pollination and pollinators, harvesting and processing, and saving and storing.

Self-Sufficiency? You Can Do It! with Chip Hope

Farm One of the most important things we can do for our health is to grow food and medicine. Right here. Right now. Learn about heirloom crops, plant origins, organic gardening practices, vermicomposting, integrated pest mgt., drip irrigation, all in very low cost, sustainable ways. Will inspire and support you on your journey in sustainable living.

Tiny Houses with Jeramy Stauffer

The tiny home and portable house movement is sweeping the country. It advocates for simple living, less of an ecological footprint, and an architectural design that can still meet most all human needs. The tiny house ushers in the return to houses of less than 1,000 square feet, less financial burden, and is sometimes marked by designs on wheels for easy of transportability. Meet the Nanostead team that is a leader in WNC in providing turn-key homes for folks who are interested in green building and sustainability as well as the small-scale living solutions that come with those homes. Class will discuss technical approaches, design concepts, rules and regulations, construction issues, infrastructure, and homesteading tips.

Homestead Skills

Backyard Chickens for Eggs & Meat

Backyard Chickens for Eggs & Meat with Dianne Palmer-Quay

Do you want to add chickens to your backyard or homestead?  Do you have questions about breed, housing, feeding or predator protection?  This workshop will provide an introduction to the joys of a small chicken flock and give you basic information on how to keep your birds happy and healthy from their first days as a chick to their later years of production.  If time permits, an overview of processing and egg incubation will be included.

Small-Scale Forestry with Shawn Swartz

To own land in Western NC often times means owning a wooded lot or small-scale forest. Understand the forest systems of the Southern Appalachians, which will inform your farm and landscape approaches. Consider how to manage these vital areas for wood and food production, wildlife, micro-climate, and long term forest health. Learn what forestry issues to consider when designing your homestead, how best to transition forest to agriculture, species selection for culling and planting, and maintenance tips and techniques.

Pollinator Gardens with Ruth Gonzalez

Pollinators are vital to a healthy ecosystem and to all plant reproduction. Yet they are in fast decline as their habitats disappear and pesticide poisoning weakens their numbers. Thankfully, butterflies, hummingbirds, bees, and beneficial insects enjoy the same beautiful flowers that we do. Even one small backyard garden can be an oasis for pollinators. Learn about the best plants, native and others which are adapted to our local region, climate, soils, and growing season and discover the magical pollinators that you’ll encounter.

Residential Permaculture with Will Hooker

Permaculture is a sustainable living methodology that has become recognized as an important tool in helping to create a global habitat in which all creatures can live in abundance into to the indefinite future. Overview the permaculture ethics and principles that Will follows in his home landscape, and watch the evolution of his and his family’s home garden over the past 20+ years. Function is a big part of sustainable living, but beauty and serenity are also important
aspects of enjoying our abundance.

Herbal Medicine

Wild Pharmacy

Wild Pharmacy with June Ellen Bradley

Walk on the wild side. Learn to make medicines from the plants around you. Discover instructions and recipes for infusions (pouring water over fresh and dry herbs), decoction (simmering roots), herbal vinegars, easy tinctures, and capsule making. Half of this class will be inside with hands-on medicine making demonstrations and half will be outside with some plant ID, weed medicine, and bush poultice.

Appalachian Folk Medicine with Byron Ballard

Folk techniques brought by immigrants of the British Isles melded with native herbal wisdom to create a vibrant healing tradition known in the Southern Appalachian mountains for hundreds of years. Due to the isolated nature of life in the mountains, modern medicine was inaccessible, expensive, and culturally foreign. As a result “cove” medicine was developed in the “hollers,” and is a system of healing transmitted by oral tradition and marked by a DIY and at-home approach whose practices are enjoying a rebirth as we crave a more integrated system of healthcare. Explore the culture, heritage, lore, remedies, herbs, and the twisty history of hoodoo and hillbilly medicine. We’ll cover deep relaxation—earthing—techniques and spend time with the Seven Sovereign Sisters of the Appalachian mountains—pokeweed, nettles, ramps, mountain mint, Jo Pye weed, mugwort and rabbit tobacco.”

Homemade Immune Boosters with Melissa Fryar

Learn easy, effective, and delicious immune supporting foods and medicines to make in your own kitchen! We will create a Fire Cider using various herbs, mushrooms and common kitchen foods such as garlic, horseradish, and honey; an immune enhancing Elderberry Syrup; a nourishing gypsy cold and flu tea, a well as other recipes to soothe and solve a variety of common illnesses and discomforts the whole year round.

Backyard Wonders

Organic Orcharding with Andrew Goodheart Brown

Successful ecological fruit growing in Western North Carolina is challenging. What you know, and don’t know, can be the difference between success and heartache.  Geared for the beginner and intermediate orchardist, this workshop presents you with a basic, yet specific, empowering knowledge that tilts the ladder of success in your favor.

Down and Dirty Soil Building Secrets with Ea Murphy

How do you grow more, by doing less; green your garden, while improving the environment? Join soil scientist and organic gardener, Elizabeth (Ea) Murphy, to learn simple, practical steps every gardener can take to unlock the secrets of living, healthy soils and naturally productive gardens. Learn how to feed the living soil to feed your living plants, recycle yard and home waste into soil food, and save time and money in the process. For more beautiful and bountiful gardens, get down to the ground – a soil-eyed view that will change the way you grow.

Grow Food Where People Live with Chuck Marsh

In WNC, over 108,280 people faced food insecurity in 2014. Learn about the program which is strengthening community self-reliance for low-income families in Polk County. A team of partners, including the county government, NC cooperative extension, and others teamed up to establish “community micro-farms,” education teams to teach gardening, orcharding, cooking, food processing, and preservation skills, and a 10-year work plan. The approach combines immediate action to improve food access and better household economies with simultaneous planning for the long-term strengthening of the local food system.

Grow Berries Now!

Grow Berries Now! with Walter Harrill

Blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries are productive, delicious, and multi-use. With proper preservation, these easy perennials can serve as a large part of a homesteader’s year-round fruit supply.  Home-grown berries are healthier and definitely more economical. Get ready to convert part of your garden, fenceline, or back pasture into berry production. Cane fruits are best planted and maintained in the fall. Learn to plant and manage these native, long term producers in your yard.


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Ella McCoy

Author: Ella McCoy

Ella McCoy is a graduate of Appalachian State University’s MBA program and a native of Western North Carolina. She grew up reluctantly helping in her family’s garden and was as surprised as everyone else when she developed a passion for food advocacy and farming, while interning with Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture. Since moving to Asheville, Ella has been involved with the Grace Presbyterian Community Garden, OGS, F.E.A.S.T, and as an “unpaid intern” at her partner’s farm. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, beekeeping, photography, and as much reading as possible.

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