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Class and Workshop Descriptions

Your Adult Registration grants you access to all weekend classes except Half-Day Workshops ($10 flat fee) and Pre-Conference Workshops, both of which require pre-registration. There is no pre-registration for weekend classes.

We schedule 15 classes in one time-slot because the classroom spaces are small-ish (40 people). Please plan on getting to class early, or better yet, having 2 or 3 choices for that time slot. If one class is full, move on to your 2nd best choice or 3rd best choice and so on. If you come to the conference because of one class or one teacher, you may be disappointed and we’d hate to see that. If you’re passionate about one topic or one teacher, we suggest you seek out that teacher or class outside of the OGS Spring Conference. With 150 classes in one weekend, we promise you, things will change – sometimes teachers cancel at the last minute or classes change.  This event is meant to be a sampling of regional wisdom and variety of practical offerings we are blessed with.

If you have any questions, please refer to the Conference FAQs before contacting us.

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Please click on the boxes below to drop down the course descriptions in each category.

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Optional Half-Day, Hands-On Workshops

Beekeeping Basics Sarah Eshan McKinney, Diane Almond
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.

Equipment Repair & Maintenance Chris Link
Save time and money by doing your own repairs. Diagnose and repair common problems with two- and four-stroke engines. Avoid costly repairs by learning maintenance, proper fluids, and appropriate settings. A two-wheeled tractor will be on site for demos.

Introducing REAL Chickens Jim Adkins
Standard bred poultry are heritage birds that are hearty and long-lived with genetics designed towards vitality. Determine what breed is best for you, talk to breeders, and learn about resources to acquire these old-timey, timeless, and important breeds.

Introduction to Home Gardening Diana McCall
Gardening basics from seed to table including site planning, bed preparation, growing from seeds and starts, making compost, building soil fertility, and proper harvest. Also, encouraging species diversity in your home yard.

Kudzu Baskets Nancy Basket
Make two small baskets, one free form and one coiled, while learning everything else kudzu can do! Bale, eat, wear, write, and get well with the whole plant.

On-Farm Composting Brian Rosa
Compost improves soil while managing organic residuals. Increase income from selling surplus compost and/or increased production supported by compost-improved soil. Learn the basics of how to compost, methods, and utilization.

Tiny Homes & Small-Scale Design Jeramy Stauffer
The tiny and portable house movement has swept the country. It advocates simple living, a small ecological footprint, and design that meets all human needs. Learn technical approaches, design concepts, rules & regulations, construction issues, infrastructure, and homesteading tips.

Whole Hog Butchery & Charcuterie Meredith Leigh
Learn pork butchery from nose to tail, and the basics of curing meats via salt, smoke, and fermentation. Meredith Leigh, author of The Ethical Meat Handbook will lead this demo and a lively discussion on sustainable farming, mindful slaughter, and good cookery.

Yard Garden Workshop Mark Hare, Buzz Durham
Intensive garden practices in Haiti are directly transferable to USA gardens. Learn to use the readily available materials and resources on-hand. Using these methods, we’ll build a tire garden and a raised bed garden. Also, build soil using biochar.

Community Food

Community Nuttery Tom Celona
Walnuts and Hickories provide rich nutrition, build soil, and preventing erosion. Why do we think of these trees as pests? Utilize this food by learning to process these delicious and nutritious nuts. Learn about efforts to create community nut processing facility to Asheville.

Diversity and Community Resiliance Jovan Sage
In the same way that biodiversity is important to our organic agriculture, human diversity is invaluable to cross-pollinate, preserve culture, encourage creativity, and build up our community resilience. Most importantly it makes for a respectful world where we all thrive.

Growing Food in Public Spaces Tom Celona 
Asheville has a long and evolving history with public food infrastructure. This class will discuss some of the struggles and successes of the last several years, and include some notes about species selection as well.

Growing Organic Communities Food Access Expert Panel
A panel of local food and food access experts discuss successes and failures in building community food programs in Western NC. They’ll recount the many lessons learned while growing sustainable communities, right livelihood, and access to healthy foods.

Growing Our Youngest Gardeners Susannah Fotopulos
Understand how to implement a meaningful garden-based program for children as young as 4, explore hands-on edible education lessons, design an outdoor children’s space, and take home a sample lesson from our toolkit you can put to work right away.

Wild Foods: Sustainable, Local and Natural Alan Muskat
Work with nature, not against it. For long-term sustainability, minimal inputs, and naturally adapted varieties, nothing beats wild foods. Learn the foods common to WNC, nature’s bounty as the ultimate food security, and marketing this ‘produce from Providence’ as a green industry.


Crafting Flavor Profiles Matthew Raiford
Chef & Farmer Matthew Raiford, owner of The Farmer & The Larder brings us culinary delights & wisdom from coastal GA. Learn to create flavor profiles using local and organic ingredients with a focus on readily available spring fare.

Indian Cooking: Tricks and Techniques Sunil Patel
The class will consist of an overview of Indian cuisine, Indian eating styles, and basic tools, techniques, and resources to make for delicious and creative cooking and eating adventures.

Powerhouse Breakfasts Patryk Battle
In a breakfast rut? Crashing before lunch? Learn a variety of nutrient dense breakfasts that will carry you to lunch and beyond. In addition, explore breakfast recipes to celebrate special times.

Sustainable Seafood Clark Barlowe
Learn about sustainable seafood with Chef Clark Barlowe.Chef Clark will speak about sustainable wild species as well as farmed. There will be a cooking demonstration of some of the less often utilized part of the fish. Literature and samples will be provided.

Earth Skills

Fire Building Rachel Shopper
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.

Knots, Ropes, and Strings Camperbob Jarrell
Learn to tie and properly utilize several knots useful to farm and forest. Demonstration and hands on practice in the uses of the Bowline, Sheet Bend, Truckers Hitch, Clove Hitch, Figure Eight and others. Types, purposes, and applications will be discussed as well.

Wild Nuts Osker Brown
Wild nuts formed the basis of human diets around the northern hemisphere for 50,000 years. The Southern Appalachians host a variety of highly nutritious nut species. Learn processing methods for acorns, hazelnuts, hickories and walnuts.

Year-Round Moss Gardens Mossin’ Annie Martin
Mosses need no fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides; are immune to freezing; adaptable to shade and sun; and offer year-round green. This WNC native and expert on moss gardening shares ideas for landscapes, including lawns, green roofs and living walls, and offers planting techniques and maintenance methods.

Farmers: Beginning

Creative Farmland Access Suzanna Denison, Chris Link, Holly Rippon-Butler
Do you have the skills, tools and abilities to farm? But not the land? Learn about creative ways to access farmland, including business partnerships, work trade, incubator farms, leases and standard sale.

Discover Industrial Hemp Eric Walker
2015 saw industrial hemp legally processed in our region for the first time in 50 years. Discover industrial hemp history, industry, and legislation; gain a greater understanding of production and distribution; and avoid common producer pitfalls.

High Tunnels for Homesteaders Christina Newhouse
High Tunnels are greenhouses for year-round fruit and vegetable production popular with growers of all scales. Explore the different types of tunnels to extend your crop season, the appropriate types of plants, irrigation issues, and how to apply to funding programs.

Intro to Biodynamics Holly Whitesides
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.

Principles of Biological Systems Dan Kittredge
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.

Specialization & Scale: How to Create Profit from the Farm Matthew & Althea Raiford
Learn to specialize within the farm. Get proficient at some things and do them at a larger scale. Incorporate value added products. Pick your battles. Don’t learn to grow everything. Let things go. This, and other hard-earned wisdom, from the sibling farmers.

Farmers: Intermediate to Advanced

A Quick Look at ‘Slow Flowers Jane Henderson
You’ve heard of ‘slow food’? How might ‘slow flowers’ enhance your farm plan? Growing floral materials could likely diversify farm production and boost income. Identify crops with potential for farmer’s market, CSA, restaurant and special event sales.

Creative Farmland Access Suzanna Denison, Chris Link, Holly Rippon-Butler
Do you have the skills, tools and abilities to farm? But not the land? Learn about creative ways to access farmland, including business partnerships, work trade, incubator farms, leases and standard sale.

Practical Plant Pathology Vanessa Campbell
Vanessa will discuss her real world experiences with diseases on her vegetable and cut flower farm as well as her strategies for managing them. Please bring your questions and your own strategic solutions to share.

Selecting Vegetable Varieties Jeanine Davis & Richard Boylan
Variety selection is one of the most important factors for producing a successful crop. Information from recent university research, participatory breeding projects, and grower surveys on a wide variety of WNC grown vegetables will be presented.

Spring and Summer Hoophouses Pam Dawling
Helpful for hot weather crops that struggle outdoors because of temperature or bugs! Consider seed, cover crop, and flower varieties; discuss cooling the hoophouse; managing soil-borne diseases; and other uses like seed drying and storage.


Growing Epic Tomatoes Craig LeHoullier
Tomatoes are often the centerpiece of gardens. From history to choosing varieties and from growing tips to harvest, we’ll immerse ourselves in the “love apple”. Also, seed saving, recipes, and preserving techniques.

Seed to Seed: Completing the Garden Cycle Angie Lavezzo, Chris Smith
We’ll walk you through the seed to seed cycle for squash, tomatoes, beans and basil. Discover the skills and confidence to grow the crop and save the seed this year. Practical advice, tips and demos for the home gardener and seed saver.

Successful Straw Bale Gardening Craig LeHoullier
Straw bales add a great tool to gardeners’ belts. Learn about bale selection, preparation, and best crops for success, as well as the best seasonal care approaches.

The Good, The Bad, and The Bugly Patryk Battle
Plant diversity is our best means of resolving insect pest problems. It requires a dynamic balance of plant eating and predaceous insects. Learn how some insects disrupt this balance and the array of effective organically approved tools for control.

Unusual Edibles for the Permaculture Garden Ira Wallace
Explore perennial, biennial, and self-sowing options for bringing quick harvests of vegetables and herbs to the understory of your permaculture gardens while trees and shrubs are coming to maturity.


Adaptogens: Herbs for Stressful Times Corey Pine Shane
Adaptogens are gentle tonic herbs that help us respond and adapt to stress and tone our nervous system. Experience a sampling of adaptogen herbs and how to incorporate them into your everyday life in food as well as in extracts.

All About Holy Basil Noelle Fuller
The best results from two years of research including varieities best suited for the southeast, highest yields, most desirable composition of essential oils, as well as practical information about growing (spacing, harvesting, yield averages, days to flower, and germination).

Gardening For Your Healthcare Deanna Riggan
This class is for any age and will focus on growing your own medicine cabinet. We will discuss food as medicine, growing your own herbs for medicine-making, treating your home like a inner garden and the importance of creating a meditation space. Positive Mental health starts at home.

Homeopathy for Chronic Illness Kimberly Woods Chom
Homeopathy is mainstream medical care in Europe. Made from highly diluted substances, homeopathy stimulates the body’s own healing response. Case studies of treating Cancer, Autism, Bipolar Disorder, Depression, and Lyme disease discussed.

Invasive Plant Medicine Josh Fox
While we can’t ignore the uncontrolled spread of invasive plants, we can tap into their useful plant medicine. Learn how Kudzu, Burdock, Honeysuckle, and others have been used for thousands of years and see the blessing underneath the invasion.

Mixing It Up: Tonics in the Kitchen Patricia Kyritsi Howell
Combine seasonal produce, medicinal herbs, and wild foods to create delicious, time-honored herbal tonics to improve immunity, build vitality, calm the nervous system, and nourish the senses. Inspired by traditional recipes learn simple techniques for using food as medicine.


Animal Integration Gabe Brown
Learn to use livestock as a tool to improve resources. We’ll discuss breed selection, birth dates, diversity of species, and how to keep your animals thriving on pasture throughout the year. Experience the production and soil improvement benefits of managing for the ‘whole’.

Dairy Goats for Homesteads Chris Owen
Learn how to care for and manage dairy goats. Basics on fencing, shelter, feeding, and maintaining these amazing animals will be covered along with safe milk handling and simple cheesemaking.

Intro to Organic Pastured Pigs Alice Percy
Just getting into pigs? Thinking about expanding from just a couple pigs to a couple dozen? This workshop will provide an overview of how to effectively and economically house, fence, and feed a happy pig. Happy pigs taste better!

Strategies for Pastured Livestock Miguel Castillo
This session will present and discuss opportunities for reducing off-farm inputs, increasing grazing days, prevent weed infestation, and use alternative sources of nutrients for pasture-based livestock systems.


Biohacking with Fungi William Padilla-Brown
Biohacking, or DIY Biology, is used to enhance health, improve nutrient uptake, and increased cognition. Using fungi for these explorations is becoming more popular. Learn where to source quality wild, and cultivated adaptogenic, and nootropic fungi, mushrooms, sclerotia, and lichen.

Fungi & Resilience William Padilla-Brown
Fungi are present in all living systems. Learning to team with Fungi will increase resilience. Applications range from waste water management to food to textile production. Cultivate an understanding of fungi and propagate some mycelium for you to take home and experiment with.

Medicinal Mushrooms Mateo Ryall
Discover how fungi help heal the body based on current medical research and traditional uses. The class will explore the physiological responses in the body, successful treatments for chronic diseases and the ways to make potent extractions and medicine from fungi.

Mushroom Cultivation in the Southeast Tradd Cotter
Hot weather deters many mushroom growers from attempting fruiting in summer. Learn cultivation strategies, low tech solutions, varieties, and native plant byproducts for high-yielding alternatives including shiitake, oyster, king stropharia, paddy straw, giant milky, and almond portabella.

The Business of Mushrooms Amy Fox, Tradd Cotter
Design strategies for developing a mushroom cultivation operation that will fit your economical and physical limitations. We’ll discuss business planning, insurance requirements, farm design, and marketing.

What’s that Mushroom? Michael Hopping
Basic ID information about local species of wild mushrooms. What are they? How do they live? What are the major groups? Info slanted toward species and identification pitfalls.


An Appalachian Milpa Lifeway: Community-Scale Carbon Farming Zev Friedman
“Milpa” describes an ancient farming lifeway that integrates annuals (corn, beans, squash, quelites, sunflowers and others), tree crops, fungi, and animals through the long-term management of forest succession and addition of biochar, creating an ecstatic cuisine as well as fiber, medicine, firewood for cooking and building materials. An elegant model for community-scale permaculture farming, this is how I farm, and the presentation will focus on my experience, as well as research and a recent visit to Zapotec and Mixteca milpa farmers in Mexico. This is an intermediate/advanced class.

Building Climate Resilient Edible Landscapes Chuck Marsh
Explore Permaculture and dryland approaches to growing integrated, climate resilient home food growing systems using informed plant selection and placement, and simple earthworks, soil building, rainwater harvesting, and neo-horticultural plant growing methodologies.

Permaculture 101: A Toolkit
Using the common-sense principles of Permaculture design, we can learn to see consequences before we act, avoiding mistakes and saving time, energy, and money. This class explores the basics of this essential design.

Permaculture: How to Get Started Natalie Bogwalker
Take that first step in your journey in creating a permaculture paradise. We’ll discuss the successes and failures of various planning techniques, plant and tree species and varieties, and building techniques both natural and conventional.

Pragmatic Permaculture Zev Friedman
Urban sustainability requires more than vegetable gardening alone. Examine detailed techniques for growing urban permaculture systems integrating buildings and roads, energy and water systems, animals, fungi and plants into coherent homesteading organisms. From mushrooms under the sink to community-scale collaboratives.

Propogating Plants for Permaculture Frank Salzano, Natalie Bogwalker
Wanting to feed your plant geekiness? Ready to save some money on transplants? Propagation is the answer. You’ll go home with several plants that you propagate in class including elderberry and hazelnut.

Reinhabiting the Land: Permaculture with a Sense of Place Alexander Meander
Explore concepts that re-establish us in the wild web of ecology, such as bioregional permaculture, deep ecology, ecoforestry, and rewilding. Includes practical knowledge of working with forest succession and bioregional flora. Recommended for potential and current landowners.


Creating Monarch Habitats Kim Bailey
Invite monarchs to lunch by growing milkweed and providing a succession of nectar plants throughout the season! Take an in-depth look at monarch natural history, migration, and habitat needs. Discuss pollinator plant propagation, techniques for rearing caterpillars indoors, and explore related citizen-science projects.

Enhancing Farm Diversity to Support Pollinators Nancy Lee Adamson
Floral diversity on farms supports pollinators and many other insects that benefit our farms, gardens, and watersheds. Learn about some of our smaller farm heroes: the most common types of bees, wasps, flies, beetles, and other wildlife that help ensure healthy harvests.

Growing Native Plants from Seed Pat Sommers
Discuss seed morphology, pollination and the importance of species plants in a highly hybridized world. You’ll plant two six-packs with a variety of native seeds while learning germination requirements and the what, how and why of growing them.

Integrating Pollinators into the Garden Angie Lavezzo
Learn the benefits of attracting pollinators to your vegetable gardens for boosting natural pest control, increased yields, and overall beauty.

Meet the ‘Other’ Bees Jill Sidebottom
Native bees were the New World’s pollinator work horses long before the honey bee was brought here from Europe. Discover the rich diversity of native bees in western NC, and learn how to recognize the most common groups and how to increase them in your garden or farm.

Plant-Pollinator Interactions Tim Spira
Have you ever wondered why there is such an incredible diversity of flower shapes, sizes, colors, and fragrances in nature? Discover how plant-pollinator interactions have been a key force generating the diversity of flowers that we see in nature.

Who Pollinates Your Food? Phyllis Stiles
Plants and their pollinators co-evolved over millions of years in mutually beneficial ways. Today three-quarters of the world’s crops benefit from pollinators, either for producing seeds or improving the quality and/or quantity of yields. Get ready to be amazed at how crafty flowers can be!


Birds of Another Feather Sam Humphrey
A focus on poultry, other than chickens, specifically: turkeys, ducks, geese, quail, and guineas including how to properly raise these other poultry species and how they compare to chickens.

Developing a Poultry Business Philip Renshaw
Explore the Meat Handler Registration and Inspection guidelines and NC Poultry Exemption Operation Requirements for on-farm slaughter/processing, labeling and marketing of products.

Need to Know Chick Care Meagan Roberts
Best practices in caring for chicks including housing, husbandry, feed, biosecurity, and disease prevention.

Poultry Housing for Backyard & Pasture Brant Bullock
Learn all the basics of creating housing for a small flock of poultry, whether a permanent structure or a mobile coop on pasture. We’ll discuss size, materials, perches, nest boxes, and best grass types for foraging chickens.

Raising Turkeys: From Poults to Processing Tim Burke
An overview of all things turkey: hatching, brooding, raising on pasture, and processing. The nutritional requirements at different stages of growth, and how to avoid and treat disease.


Amending the Soil Basics Mike Weeks
Detailed discussion of the basic amendments traditionally added to organic gardens and small farms. Discover what your soil needs, the benefits of each amendment, and how to maximize bio-availability.

Five Keys to Building Healthy Soils Gabe Brown
Discover the production methods and implementation techniques for healthy soils which will increase yields and decrease chemical and machinery costs. Includes minimizing soil disturbance, keeping soil covered, maximizing diversity, keeping living roots in the soil, and using animal integration.

Soils 101: Applying Soil Basics to the Farm Holli Milner
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.

Wake Up Your Soil With WEEDS Vail Dixon
Have you ever wondered what you can do to work with nature instead of fighting weeds? Did you know that what you feed the soil can actually prevent weeds from germinating? Learn why weeds grow and how to feed your soil to help the plants you want to grow thrive. Learn how to support the biology to work for you.

Sustainable Forestry

Coppice & Silvopasture Osker Brown
Presentation of initial trials of tree crops, coppice agroforestry, and animal integration at our site in Madison County, NC.

Mycoforestry Trad Cotter
Mushrooms and other beneficial fungi are happiest in forest settings where farm production is often at a minimum. Detailed discussion of sustainable tree harvesting methods, use of forest byproducts such as wood chips and leaves, erosion control, snags for wildlife, and purposeful mushroom gardening beds.

Why Every Farm Should Have a Sugaring Operation Michael Farrell
Discover the benefits and economics of sugaring and marketing for maple, birch, and walnut sap and community-based sugaring models from buying sap, boiling it on shares, or leasing other’s trees for tapping. Make plans to buy your first evaporator or expand your production and sales.

Wild Simulated Ginseng Production Jim Hamilton
A close look at this valuable native plant. It includes site selection, companion plants, site preparation, planting, production issues, and current market trends of Panax ginseng.

Sustainable Living

Atomizing Waste Oil Burners Dan Hettinger
Babington-style oil atomizers can cleanly burn a wide range of waste oils with minimal processing. See how this technology can be used for reliable, clean and safe combustion and how to capture this intense heat for use in a wide range of applications.

DIY Farm Hacks Althea Raiford
Althea Raiford, organic farmer, electrician, and military veteran will show you how to work with what you’ve got. Build from pallets, compost with what you have, utilize free stuff, and work with small spaces. Learn to make farming and homesteading affordable and creative.

Home-Scale Seed & Nut Oil Pressing Chris Smith
The benefits of pressing your own oil include freshness, quality, purity, and autonomy. Discussion on experiments in home oil production with a hand-cranked press. Discover the best equipment, varieties of nuts and seeds, uses, storage, and more.

Humanure Composting Ned Ryan Doyle
Humanure composting offers a proven, safe, sanitary and effective way to conserve water, protect the environment and return valuable nutrients to the soils. Focus on the collection and processing methods, options for emergency sanitation and applications of fully composted materials.

Powering Your Homestead with Solar Matthew Bennett
Whether you’re considering solar to offset your electricity with clean energy or you want back-up power when the utility grid goes down, learn product selection, system sizing, interconnection options, financing and incentives to help you start saving with solar.

Rainwater Harvesting Benjamin Portwood
Rainwater Harvesting is the new black! We’ll talk about the why’s and the how’s 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!

And More...

Introduction to Homestead Dreams Brandon Greenstein
Taking the time to plan can help manifest your desires. Discover your values, skills, resources, as you chart a path to move forward with your vision. Enhance your confidence, hone your focus, boost your creativity, and generate inspiration for the lifestyle you imagine.

Introduction to the Five Elements Patricia Kyritsi Howell
The Five Elements of Traditional Chinese Medicine describe the essential rhythm that permeates all life, affecting us physically, emotionally and spiritually. Learn to recognize the Elemental patterns, and how to align with them to maintain a calm spirit, vibrant health and a sense of purpose.

Supplying Dried Botanicals to the Commercial Market Jennifer Gerrity
Discover the requirements for cultivating medicinal and aromatic crops for commercial sale, including post-harvest handling, drying, packing, labeling, record keeping, as well as regulatory and quality compliance. We will discuss woodland botanicals (ginseng, goldenseal, black and blue cohosh, and bloodroot) and their market potential.

Tools of the Trade: All About Hand Tools Joel Dufour
Learn the proper uses and applications for many common (and uncommon!) gardening hand tools. Learn how to identify high-quality tools, and maintain them properly for long life.


Author: OGS

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.

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