Journeying on the way to better farming: OGS Introduces Journeyperson program

Journeying on the way to better farming: OGS Introduces Journeyperson program

A beginning farmer is considered someone who has been farming 10 years or less, but even after the first few years or year 10, farmers continue to need support. Organic Growers School is launching our Journeyperson Program, designed for farmers who have been farming on their own for at least 3 years. This  program will offer specific and tailored support for your farm business, among a cohort of farmer peers who are experiencing many similar struggles.

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Homestead Dreams: How hard times shed light on our destiny

Homestead Dreams: How hard times shed light on our destiny

Living a simple life and taking care of the land should have always been our first priority. But now we pick up the pieces that are left from our ancestors, and find where we fit in this movement of sustainable living and going back to the basics. Homestead dreams has become a premier way to figure out where you fit in this movement of healing the earth, and how to plan out your personal organic growing journey.

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Harvest Conference Spotlight: Cee Stanley

Harvest Conference Spotlight: Cee Stanley

Farming as a Revolutionary Act For Clarenda “Cee” Stanley, farming is a revolutionary act. Stanley grew up on her grandparents’ farm in the Black Belt region of Alabama. Since co-founding Green Heffa Farms in 2018, she has leveraged her marketing and fundraising...

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Why OGS is “Getting Political”

Why OGS is “Getting Political”

Our Black Lives Matter Message We’ve had some responses about our Black Lives Matter message, and in the spirit of education we would like to share the most common one. This question has come from a handful of people in various iterations; unsubscribing from our...

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New Leadership at OGS

New Leadership at OGS

Facing a Leadership Change The staff of OGS is facing an internal restructure as a result of a big leadership change. As the Executive Director of OGS for the last 6.5 years, my leaving the organization in June of 2020 has created a leadership hole that needs to be...

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A Farewell Letter from our Executive Director

A Farewell Letter from our Executive Director

Dear OGS Family,  I will be leaving OGS on June 5, 2020 after more than six years in the Executive Director role. I am so very grateful for having had the opportunity to serve the sustainable agriculture community in Western NC and the Southern Appalachians. Our...

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It’s Bulb Planting Time!

It’s Bulb Planting Time!

My Bulb Planter I'm in love with my bulb planter. I never thought I needed one because I tend to plant bulbs in masses. I find it so much easier to dig a large hole than lots of small ones. However, in my established garden, a bulb planter is indispensable. I began...

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Toxic Pesticides

Toxic Pesticides

This article has been reprinted with permission from our friends at Consumer Notice. Original Article here: https://www.consumernotice.org/environmental/pesticides/ Toxic Pesticides Farmers depend upon pesticides to protect their crops from destructive insects, weeds,...

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Travel to Cuba, Legally!

Travel to Cuba, Legally!

There are a lot of misunderstandings regarding the legal restrictions of Cuban travel. Here's a break down of what you need to know to be able to legally travel to Cuba: Everyone traveling to Cuba from the USA (regardless of citizenship) is regulated by the Office of...

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Thank you to our Growth Partners

Thank you to our Growth Partners

Thank you to our dedicated Growth Partners—long-term supporters of Organic Growers School. These organizations have partnered with OGS to help build the local, sustainable food movement in Western North Carolina. If you’re interested in growth partnership, see this...

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Navigating Farm Labor

Navigating Farm Labor

Farming on a small farm requires significant labor to produce the food we all eat.  Farms today struggle to adequately staff their farms, often using a combination of family members, hourly workers, visiting workers from other countries  or engage in apprenticeship...

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Winter Planting

Winter Planting

This is the list of plants that I planted from late fall (end of October) to mid-December. Day Lillies Comfrey Elderberry Shrubs Catnip Lamb's ears Varigated Bishop's Weed  or Gout Weed (Aegopodium podagraria 'Variegatum') Hostas Wild Ginger Rudbeckia Two varieties of...

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Candy Roaster Squash + Recipe

Candy Roaster Squash + Recipe

Image credit Cindy Trisler, Mudluscious Pottery & Gardens If you’ve ever had the pleasure to become acquainted with the illustrious Candy Roaster Squash, you’ll know them as giant and famously sweet heirlooms. If you’ve not yet been introduced, you’re in for a...

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OUT with the Glyphosate!

OUT with the Glyphosate!

Special Guest Blog Big news! Did you hear? Jurors just awarded $289 million to a plaintiff dying of cancer. Lawyers proved that Monsanto is guilty of lying about the safety of their herbicide product Roundup by failing to warn users of all of its dangers....

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WNC CRAFT – Crop Planning

WNC CRAFT – Crop Planning

We gathered on a damp Thursday evening in April for the first Twilight CRAFT gathering of the season. But, we were fortified with an eagerness to learn about Crop Planning and tasty beverages from New Belgium Brewery. For this Twilight CRAFT, Cedar Johnson...

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Ask Tom: Payback Analysis

Ask Tom: Payback Analysis

Dear Tom, This time of year we start planning for next season and considering new equipment that may improve our productivity next year. So many choices! What can you suggest? —Tim   Dear Tim, In an earlier career, I managed a program that advised...

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Forest Farming Intensive – Teaching Team

Forest Farming Intensive – Teaching Team

Meet Our Forest Farming Teachers Marketing 201 Meghan Baker is a horticultural professional working to support sustainable agriculture in the Asheville area.  After completing her Masters of Science degree at Clemson University, she began working for the...

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Forest Farming Intensive

Forest Farming Intensive

Forest Farming Intensive A Two-Day Training Program __________________________________________________ REGISTRATION WILL CLOSE WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27 @ 5:00 P.M. Weekend-of registrations will unfortunately not be available. If you're interested...

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Farmscaping and Beneficial Insects with Patryk Battle, Living Web Farms

Farmscaping and Beneficial Insects with Patryk Battle, Living Web Farms

Farmscaping is an ecological approach to designing and managing farm landscapes to achieve a specific purpose. Increasing and managing biodiversity can be done to provide harborage and sustenance to beneficial organisms such as insects, birds and bats, for instance. When asked to share what he knows about “companion planting” and supporting beneficial insects, Pat Battle responded that farmscaping is his preferred approach.

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THE EARTH CHARTER

THE EARTH CHARTER

We stand at a critical moment in Earth’s history, a time when humanity must choose its future. As the world becomes increasingly interdependent and fragile, the future at once holds great peril and great promise. To move forward we must recognize that in the midst of a magnificent diversity of cultures and life forms we are one human family and one Earth community with a common destiny. We must join together to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace. Towards this end, it is imperative that we, the peoples of Earth, declare our responsibility to one Another, to the greater community of life, and to future generations.

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Katúah: Bioregional Journal of the Southern Appalachians

Katúah: Bioregional Journal of the Southern Appalachians

The Katuah Journal, a quarterly publication originally entitled Katúah: Bioregional Journal of the Southern Appalachians, devoted its content to the bioregion of Southern Appalachia. With a particular focus on the former Cherokee lands in Western North Carolina, early issues explain the meaning of the Cherokee name, Katúah, and why the editors chose bioregional lense through which to view their subject matter.

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What is Veganic Gardening?

What is Veganic Gardening?

Guest blog by Caitlin Campbell Veganic gardening is a method of growing edible food plants without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or animal inputs such as manure, blood, or bone.This type of gardening employs methods and techniques that ensure fertility...

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CRAFT Farmer Round Table – Discussion of The Lean Farm & Other Sources of Farming Information

CRAFT Farmer Round Table – Discussion of The Lean Farm & Other Sources of Farming Information

We asked CRAFT members to bring their thoughts on their favorite sources of farming information, and be able to provide insight on how they put that information to use. Most participants had read The Lean Farm, which was the focal point of the discussion.

Vanessa had suggested this be a ‘farmer book club’, largely centered around the book The Lean Farm.

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Spring Conference ’17 Audio Recordings

Spring Conference ’17 Audio Recordings

        For the first time ever, we have recorded all the conference classes. That's a lot of classes. Price List $10 per class or keynote session $30 for Gabe Brown’s pre-conference workshop $99 for all audio files (two-week offer) Format Options:...

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Ask Brandon

Ask Brandon

  Dear Brandon, I’ve used tires as a stairway in my steep backyard. Would they be okay to use for plants I would eat: herbs, etc., or plants that produce squash, cucumber, strawberries, etc.? Thanks, Edrianna Stilwell Dear Edrianna, Thanks for the question. To...

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Gabe Brown’s Methods Applied in NC

Gabe Brown’s Methods Applied in NC

Gabe Brown was a big hit a the 24th Annual OGS Spring Conference on March 10-12, 2017. Gabe is a nationally-recognized innovator of cover crop cocktails in no-till grain and livestock production systems. Gabe shared what he has learned over the 20+ years that he has...

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Top Ten Best Pollinator Plants

Top Ten Best Pollinator Plants

Whether you’re a small-scale gardener or a large-scale farmer, there are steps you can take to support the lives of pollinators and increase the number of pollinators in your area. You can do this by making the decision to plant pollinator plants– plants that provide essential needs like habitat or nourishment to pollinators such as bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and others.

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CRAFT Farmer Round Table – How to Not Spend Money

CRAFT Farmer Round Table – How to Not Spend Money

We asked CRAFT members to bring their percentage of expenses to gross income, then a further breakdown of expense categories as a percent of gross. Some useful categories we asked them to include were be labor, utilities, supplies, repairs, and any new projects or improvements. We also discussed how folks deal with large purchases (such as new equipment) when looking at their numbers. And lastly, how folks approach budgeting for the year.

Ben & Cedar of Goldfinch Gardens, our facilitators for the evening, shared with us a technique for thinking about expenses: If all of your expenses are a circle or “pie”, the whole pie represents the farm “gross income”, where as (ideally) half of the pie represents your expenses and profit (or “net income”). There was much discussion on on-farm income that is reflected in taxes, vs. the reality of on-farm income. The general theme of the night was that there’s a lot of ways to look at numbers, and the answer is to simplify. It was interesting to see how similar percentage of expenses vs. percentage of profit was for each of the farmers involved in the discussion. Read below for highlights. Some of the farmers present attended our Holistic Financial Planning Workshop earlier in the year, which very much added to our discussion.

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Ask Brandon

Ask Brandon

Dear Brandon, I want start a garden this spring. What can I do this winter to prepare?   Dear Reader, Think. Observe. Plan. Implement.   THINK Take a step back. Think about what you want and why. Is this garden for you to look at? To work in? To eat from?...

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We Asked, You Responded

We Asked, You Responded

In a recent post-conference survey, we asked you some questions. Your opinions matter to us as we shape the organization to serve YOU, the community. Here are a few responses......         You shared what you'd like to see more of...............

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Our Fall Women in Ag Gathering by Sarah Seldin

Our Fall Women in Ag Gathering by Sarah Seldin

I’ve been thinking a great deal about the concept and practice of holding space. What does it mean to push back the walls of time and place? To carve out a parcel for emotions, for discomfort, for disagreement and heartache and the emotions that are too wild and unruly to be parsed and named? Perhaps what I love about these events–besides the wonderful, wild women and the farmer’s feast–is the space held. Space for the joys and woes and jokes that fellow women in agriculture just get, instinctively understand and feel bone-broth deep.

We hope you can join us at our next gathering, so we can add you to our growing list of fellow Women in Ag.

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Happy Grower Appreciation Week!

Happy Grower Appreciation Week!

OGS officially declares the first week of June Grower Appreciation Week! We get so much inspiration every year from our attendees, speakers, and OGS community and we want to honor those of you who are taking action! Keep up the good work and let OGS know how we can...

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Ask Tom: Strawberry Harvest Aids

Ask Tom: Strawberry Harvest Aids

Dear Tom – Strawberry season is good for cash flow but hard on our backs.  Do you have any ideas to help with our picking efficiency and sore backs? Lou in Barnardsville Lou – We grow several types of fruit but no strawberries so far.  We do lots of transplanting...

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Food Tanks Agriculture Media List

Food Tanks Agriculture Media List

Showcasing farming through television, radio, film, art, and print, Food Tank highlights 35 interesting media projects around the world. Radio/Podcast An Organic Conversation is a weekly show based in Mill Valley, CA and available through both radio stations and as a...

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The OGS Staff & Wendell Berry

The OGS Staff & Wendell Berry

Pictured below: Cameron Farlow, OGS Farmer Programs Director, Wendell Berry, Laura Lengnick, Author and OGS Farm Beginnings Farmer Training Instructor, and Nicole DelCogliano, OGS Farmer Programs Coordinator. Our staff had the pleasure of meeting Wendell Berry at the...

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Dine with Pierre and OGS

Dine with Pierre and OGS

Organic Growers School is hosting a Benefit "Farm to Table" Dinner With very special guest, Host, Pierre Geaux, aka Bill Whipple Saturday, March 12, 2016 at the Spring Conference. Join Organic Growers School on Saturday night at 5:30pm, directly following the last...

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Curriculum & Schedule

Curriculum & Schedule

Farm Beginnings® Curriculum & Schedule 2017-2018 Farm Beginnings® Farmer Training is 210+ Hours including: Winter Whole-Farm Business Planning Courses – 60 hours (October – March)** ASAP’s Business of Farming Conference (February) – 8 hours OGS Spring Conference...

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Ask Tom: Looking for Farm Work

Ask Tom: Looking for Farm Work

I am considering a career in farming. How can I find farm work on a WNC organic farm? In looking for a farm, geography and climate are important, particularly with organic growing. In WNC we have pests and disease that are rare on the coast, for example.

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OGS is attending Southern SAWG! Are you?

OGS is attending Southern SAWG! Are you?

  Join us in Kentucky! This year will mark the 25th anniversary of Southern SAWG's Annual Practical Tools and Solutions for Sustaining Family Farms Conference. Organic Growers School is excited to join in this January. The Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working...

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GIVE!LOCAL WNC’s First Giving Guide

GIVE!LOCAL WNC’s First Giving Guide

We are excited to have been selected as one of 30 non-profits to be a part of Mountain Xpress's GIVE!LOCAL Guide this giving season.  GIVE!LOCAL is an incredible resource for local non-profits and community members.  The guide and website help to make donating — and...

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Harvest Conference Ticket Giveaway!

Harvest Conference Ticket Giveaway!

Click HERE to enter! Organic Growers School is giving away 2 tickets to the annual Harvest Conference on September 12th!  This is a $50 value.  Enter to win your ticket to this fall event featuring all the popularity of the Spring Conference with a focus on the Fall...

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Harvest Conference Calendar Released

Harvest Conference Calendar Released

We've prepared a line up of more than 20 amazing classes in 8 different tracks for the backyard and homestead grower at the 2nd annual Organic Grower’s School’s Harvest Conference.  In addition to the conference, we've planned a day of intensive workshop for Friday,...

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Ask Tom: Growing Lettuce in Summer

Ask Tom: Growing Lettuce in Summer

Lettuce is one of the top three vegetables that Americans consume (potatoes and tomatoes are the other two) and summer is salad season when no one wants to turn on the stove. Summer is also the most challenging time for lettuce production on our farm. This year has been particularly challenging with high temperatures and erratic rainfall.

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Organic Pest Control for Your Garden

Organic Pest Control for Your Garden

Along with the fun of gardening comes the toils of dealing with hungry bugs that are looking to devour your garden one plant at a time. Fortunately, by understanding how to leverage Mother Nature, you can implement a full natural pest control approach in your garden.

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OGS News

OGS News

Growing the OGS FamilyEric Auers Cloke was born to OGS Communications Coordinator, Jenn Miyakawa Cloke, and her husband Alex Cloke on December 19, 2014.Congratulations & Welcome Eric.     USDA Grant Awarded to Organic Growers School Organic Growers...

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Is Organic Better?

From our Friends at Georgia Organics, this great list....   People eat organics for many reasons. Taste, ecological concern, and health seem to be the biggest. But there are others: To keep chemicals and poisons off your plate. The U.S. Environmental Protection...

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Exhibitors

Exhibitors

25th Annual Spring Conference // March 9–11, 2018 Showcase your organization to more that 2,500 attendees who visit our Exhibit Tent. The Spring Conference trade show is a long-standing tradition that highlights wide array of exhibitors and products. Past exhibitors...

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Ask Tom: Tomatoes for Winter

Ask Tom: Tomatoes for Winter

Dear Tom, You sell a lot of tomatoes. How do you can them when so much is going on in the middle of the season? Paul in Pawpaw Dear Paul – I will leave to Extension the details of the canning process but I will be glad to share a few ideas that help us save some time...

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Women Farmers in the News

Women Farmers in the News

We've been tracking the articles lately on women in agriculture and compiling them here. Noticing a trend. Please feel free to add your thoughts below in the comments. Mother Nature’s Daughters By MICHAEL TORTORELLO,  New York Times, AUG. 27, 2014 Maggie Cheney,...

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Harvest Conference Photo Report

Harvest Conference Photo Report

The OGS 1st Annual Harvest Conference on September 5&6, 2014 was a wonderful success. The Harvest Conference is a fall event featuring all the popularity of the Spring Conference with a focus on the fall growing season, harvesting, canning, growing, gardening,...

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Photo Contest Winner Announced

Photo Contest Winner Announced

2014 Harvest Conference Photo Contest Winner won two tickets to the Harvest Conference on September 6th. Photo Contest Winner: Kelli Elizabeth says: My little Cabbage Patch Kid in her element. She radiates pure joy when she is outside in the garden, picking berries,...

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Pastured Poultry

Pastured Poultry

From the American Pastured Poultry Producers Association Website. To see their site, click here. What is Pastured Poultry? Pastured Poultry relies on raising chickens directly on green pasture. The model has been developed over the last twenty years and allows the...

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Who are the New Farmers?

Who are the New Farmers?

In order to increase the availability and accessibility of local foods, we need local growers. There is far more demand for local organic foods in Western NC, than there is supply. Yet NC is losing farmers and farmland at a faster rate than any other state in the...

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Ask Ruth: Squash Vine Borers

Ask Ruth: Squash Vine Borers

Dear Ruth, I read and enjoyed your article on winter row covers. I have a terrible time with growing squash, especially winter squash. The vine borers always get to the plants well before harvest. I've read elsewhere how row covers can be used to protect squash from...

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Ask Tom: Landscaping Fabric Revisited

Ask Tom: Landscaping Fabric Revisited

Hello Farmer Tom, I like your "Organic Growers School" website.  I am in the process of redoing landscaping and a garden on the property we just purchased and was wanting a safe landscaping fabric - NO Chemicals!!!.  I read your blog about what you have had success...

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Cultivating Local Farmers

Cultivating Local Farmers

In order to increase the availability and accessibility of local foods, we need local growers. There is far more demand for local organic foods in Western NC, than there is supply. Yet according to NAIS, NC is losing farmers and farmland at a faster rate than any...

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Fishy Sugar Beet Car

Fishy Sugar Beet Car

From Ben Harper of the REAL Cooperative in Asheville, NC Fishy Sugar Beet, AKA Rooty, is a sweet ride that cruises the country spreading the word about GMOs and the need to label them. Rooty, along with her 4 counterparts; fishy soy, corn, apple & tomato, were...

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OGS Awarded Ford Motor Company Green Grant

OGS Awarded Ford Motor Company Green Grant

Mother Earth News Fair swept into town with a splash, attracting 16,000 to the Western North Carolina Agricultural Center on the weekend of April 11, 12, & 13. Organic Growers School was a sponsor and exhibitor at the fair and our staff and board members were...

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The Art of Making Miso

***PLEASE NOTE: This is the handout provided to attendees at the 2014 Organic Growers School Spring Conference class The Art of Making Miso with Liat Batshira. While it was intended to be read in conjunction with the speaker's presentation, we believe it can still be...

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Backyard Weeds

***PLEASE NOTE: This is the handout provided to attendees at the 2014 Organic Growers School Spring Conference class Backyard Weeds with Juliet Blankespoor of Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine . While it was intended to be read in conjunction with the speaker's...

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Wonderful Winter Salads

Below is the recipe presented by Jason LaFrance of Laughing Seed Cafe at the 2014 Spring Conference in a class called Wonderful Winter Salads. Enjoy! Harvest Salad Roasted root vegetables (beets and butternut squash) with arugula, fresh julienned apples, pistachios,...

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Easy Kimchi at Home Recipes!

Below are the recipes presented by Steven Michael Goff of King James Public House at the 2014 Spring Conference in a class called Easy Kimchi at Home. Enjoy! Confit Chicken with Kimchi Collards, Roasted Potatoes and Kimchi Beurre Blanc Kimchi 3 cups water ½ cup flour...

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New Executive Director at OGS

New Executive Director at OGS

Organic Growers School Announces New Executive Director Asheville, NC—The Organic Growers School announces the appointment of Lee Warren as its new Executive Director. Organic Growers School works to advance organic agriculture and sustainable living in the Southern...

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Ask Ruth: Soil Solarization

Ask Ruth: Soil Solarization

Dear Ruth, Greetings from SW North Dakota. I had some problem with blight the past few years. I was told to place clear plastic in the latter part of the summer in the area where you plan to grow tomatoes the following year. l staked down the plastic and checked the...

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Pasture Management Workshop Coming Up

Pasture Management Workshop Coming Up

Grazing, Nutrition, and Soils Workshop: A Sustainable Approach to Animal Nutrition, Animal Health, and Pasture Management When: January 29, 2014 from 10:00 am-2:00 pm Location: Guilford Agriculture Center (Barn Kitchen) at 3375 Burlington Road in Greensboro, NC...

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Ask Tom: Poison Ivy

Ask Tom: Poison Ivy

Dear Tom-- Do you have suggestions for managing poison ivy? -- Holly in Grapevine Dear Holly – Initially I should mention that people vary greatly in their sensitivity to poison ivy. Some people should just stay away from it because no level of caution or post...

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Ask Meredith: Apple Cider Vinegar

Ask Meredith: Apple Cider Vinegar

This month's Organic Living article comes from guest writer Jennifer Miyakawa Cloke, the Organic Growers School's Communications Coordinator and Spring Conference Assistant. Enjoy! Hi All! When I think "organic living," the first thing that comes to my mind is, of...

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Ask Tom: Farm Gadgets 2013

Ask Tom: Farm Gadgets 2013

This month we offer several products and ideas that may be useful on the farm and elsewhere. If readers have others that we should spread around, please let us know. At our last CRAFT tour of the year Ben and Cedar at Goldfinch Gardens in Celo introduced us to a...

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Ask Ruth: Winter Cover Crops

Ask Ruth: Winter Cover Crops

Hello Ruth, I live in East TN and will be digging sweet potatoes in my home garden by the first frost which usually comes in the third week in October. The sweet potatoes are in a 500 square foot area. I am new to cover cropping and have experimented with oats,...

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Ask Tom: Farmer Ergonomics

Ask Tom: Farmer Ergonomics

Dear Tom – With the late spring and incessant rain in June, this season was very stressful but making things worse was back pain on and off all season. Any suggestions? Aching Andy in Tuxedo Dear Andy – You are not alone. Farming is the occupation most associated with...

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Ask Meredith: Horticultural Oils

Ask Meredith: Horticultural Oils

Dear Meredith, Here I sit browsing the June/July issue of The Appalachian Voice and came across an interview with two folks from the OGS. In it there is a recipe for garlic soap spray, supposedly the executive director's favorite. One of the ingredients is mineral...

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CRAFT TOUR: Hickory Nut Gap Farm

Hickory Nut Gap Farm Tour summary July 6, 2013 “Apple Orchard Management” For our July CRAFT tour we gathered at Hickory Nut Gap Farm (HNGF) where we focused on apple orchard management. Walker Sides, the farm manager, and Mark Clarke, an employee and cousin to the...

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Ask Meredith: Organic Kid Lunches

Ask Meredith: Organic Kid Lunches

Dear Meredith, My youngest daughter just started kindergarten, and my oldest is entering 3rd grade. Getting everyone out of bed, fed, and out the door on time every day is a real challenge, and I find I don’t have much time to think about healthy lunches for the kids....

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Ask Tom: Solar Wood Drying

Ask Tom: Solar Wood Drying

Dear Tom: In the July OGS 'Notebook' you mentioned using clear plastic sheeting to dry firewood. Is there a 'greenhouse grade' clear plastic that is different from conventional clear plastic?  I would expect that covering a pile of wood with clear plastic sheeting...

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Organic Disease Control

Organic Disease Control

Western North Carolina is classified as a temperate rainforest ecosystem. Most people are surprised to hear this, but not organic gardeners. With our fair share of diseases affecting every plant you can imagine, organic gardeners often feel like we’re in for total...

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Ask Meredith: Organic Mosquito Control

Ask Meredith: Organic Mosquito Control

Dear Meredith, I saw your recent recipe for Safer Soap as an alternative to pesticides in the most recent issue of Appalachian Voice. I've heard about using concentrated garlic sprays to control mosquitoes as well. Will Safer Soap work for this purpose? Thanks so...

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Ask Meredith: Organic Flea and Tick Control

Ask Meredith: Organic Flea and Tick Control

Dear Meredith, Can you give me some tips on organic flea and tick control for my dog? Thanks, Ellen   Dear Ellen, In the humidity and dampness of an Appalachian summer, nearly every pet owner has to deal with fleas. Ticks are another special  treat for us here,...

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Ask Ruth: Rust on Apple Trees

Ask Ruth: Rust on Apple Trees

Hi Ruth, It looks like we have some sort of orange fungus growing on our apple trees. What is the best way to fight this while keeping our apple trees organic? Thank you, Beth   Dear Beth, The orange spots on your apple trees are a type of rust. Apples are susceptible...

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Ask Tom: Mulching Tomatoes

Ask Tom: Mulching Tomatoes

Tom: Should I mulch tomatoes and peppers at this time of the year? I know that they both love warm soil and am worried that mulching them might cause the soil to be colder even though I like to preserve the moisture in my raised beds with mulch. Thanks, J. Lee Lake...

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Ask Meredith: The Dirty Dozen

Ask Meredith: The Dirty Dozen

Dear Meredith I have been shopping with a health-consciousness for many years. Sometimes it is hard on my wallet, and my family protests when I boycott foods from our diet. Because of this, I am always looking for ways to balance my obsession with organic foods as a...

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Ask Tom: When to Plant Peppers

Ask Tom: When to Plant Peppers

Dear Tom – With the recent warm weather we planted peppers in early May but had a scare last week when the temperature dropped to near freezing for one night in a period that had been very warm. I was told our last frost date is May 15. What does that date really mean...

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Ask Tom: Organic Bridge Building

Ask Tom: Organic Bridge Building

Dear Tom – I need to get a tractor across a small stream on our property. What can you suggest? Thanks --Stranded in Horseshoe     Dear Stranded – I faced a similar situation a year or so ago. We had just installed a wood furnace to heat our greenhouse and a...

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Ask Tom:  SWD Control Sticker Shock

Ask Tom:  SWD Control Sticker Shock

Hello Tom, Thank you very much for your article about spotted wing drosophila in the OGS newsletter. My partner and I own a small berry patch that is only about 75' by 75.'  That comes to about 0.13 acres. Using your spraying charts I calculate for 0.13 acres we would...

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Ask Ruth: Gardening with Kids

Ask Ruth: Gardening with Kids

Dear Ruth, I hate housework, but I love gardening and working in my yard. I want to instill a love of gardening in my children. Do you have any suggestions that might get kids excited about gardening? Ella K., Asheville, NC   Dear Ella, Love your thinking! This...

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Ask Tom: Spotted Wing Drosphilia

Ask Tom: Spotted Wing Drosphilia

Tom –  I have heard talk about a new fruit fly that is a problem for berry growers. What organic practices are available to manage that pest? -- Perplexed in Lickskillet Dear Perplexed – It is called the spotted wing drosophila (SWD) and is similar to our traditional...

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Ask Tom: Annual Farm Gizmos Column

Ask Tom: Annual Farm Gizmos Column

This month’s column departs from our traditional approach and offers a series of ideas and links to inspire farm efficiency improvements as we enter fall and winter – when we may actually have some time to do research and follow-up. Please comment freely if you have...

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Ask Tom: Changing Average Temperature

Ask Tom: Changing Average Temperature

 Tom – This season I seemed to have a new set of bugs and disease that were only minor problems in the past. Did you notice that too? -- Perplexed in Grapevine     Dear Perplexed - I noticed that lettuce bacterial spot was particularly bad this year. It was...

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Ask Tom: Outwardly Calm

Ask Tom: Outwardly Calm

Tom – I would like to be more like you, you know, be a cool farmer, helpful, concerned and engaged yet never ruffled. How do you manage to stay composed when everything seems to be flying apart all the time? Thanks, – Pete Dixon Pete – Thanks for your question. I am...

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Ask Tom: Summer Cooling

Ask Tom: Summer Cooling

Dear Tom – How do you manage to grow lettuce in the middle of a summer like this one? - Hank in Edneyville                 Dear Hank – This year was challenging with three weeks of drought and temperatures in the high nineties....

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Ask Ruth: Caring for Nut Trees

Ask Ruth: Caring for Nut Trees

Dear Ruth, I would like to fertilize my 4 pecan trees. I read up online and came across the product “Zeolite” which contains several minerals. Is this a safe organic product to use? Thanks for your help, Sharon Phillips     Ripe pecans on the tree (photo...

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CRAFT TOUR: Bluebird Farm

CRAFT TOUR: Bluebird Farm

On June 3rd we received a hearty welcome from William Lyons and Marie Williams of Bluebird Farm for our third CRAFT tour of the season. The tour topic was Integrated Animal and Vegetable Production. William and Marie gave us a full tour and unique insight into their...

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Ask Tom: Burning Landscape Fabric

Ask Tom: Burning Landscape Fabric

This article is a reprint and update of one written in early 2010 on burning holes in landscape fabric (an update of an article that appeared in Growing for Market). We normally rely on readers going to the archives but several fellow farmers have asked this question...

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CRAFT TOUR: Full Sun Farm

CRAFT TOUR: Full Sun Farm

Alex Brown and Vanessa Campbell of Full Sun Farm were our gracious hosts at the second CRAFT tour of the season, May 19th. We were greeted by beautiful weather and had a great turnout! The topic for our second tour was “Equipment for 5-10 acres of Vegetables,” and...

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Ask Tom: Succession Planting

Ask Tom: Succession Planting

Dear Tom – How to you plan the timing of succession crops? Thanks - Adam in Fairview Dear Adam, We sow nearly every week starting in February and ending in late September. Some crops like peppers are sown once for the season but we sow many crops repeatedly through...

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Ask Ruth: Blueberries

Ask Ruth: Blueberries

Dear Ruth, I am thinking about planting some blueberries. Are they hard to grow? Michelle, Burnsville NC     Dear Michelle, I love this question, because blueberries are one of my favorite plants. We sell lots of blueberries at the garden center where I...

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Ask Tom: New Organic Sprays

Ask Tom: New Organic Sprays

Dear Tom – I have heard talk about new organic sprays for flea beetle and downy mildew. Can you tell me more about those products? - Anxious in Asheville     Dear Anxious – Downy mildew is a problem on our farm most years in squash and cucumbers. It is not...

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Featured CRAFT Farmer: Megan McGowan

Featured CRAFT Farmer: Megan McGowan

Megan McGowan is starting her own farm this year with the help of the Organic Growers School’s CRAFT farmer training initiative. In her first year farming, Megan is growing more than 100 varieties of vegetables, herbs, and sunflowers for market on an acre of leased...

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Ask Tom: Greenhouse Plant Racks

Ask Tom: Greenhouse Plant Racks

Dear Tom – When we toured your farm last year I recall thinking that the supports you use for seed flats in your propagation house looked affordable and effective. Will you remind me how they are assembled? - Jean in Clyde Dear Jean – The basic idea is to use stock...

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Ask Tom: Biochar

Ask Tom: Biochar

Tom – I keep hearing about biochar and its many benefits. How can I make biochar on my farm? -- Bill in Burnsville Bill – I am hearing the same buzz about biochar. Farmer Pat Battle mentioned terra preta probably five years ago in a hallway conversation at the OGS...

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Ask Ruth: Stinkhorns

Ask Ruth: Stinkhorns

Ruth, We are experiencing an infestation of stinkhorns this year. Over the last month, we've had 120-150 of them this fall (including the unopened pods) complete with the flies and the stinkhorn beetles to spread their spores. They came into our garden either from...

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Ask Ruth: Beneficial Insects

Ask Ruth: Beneficial Insects

Dear Ruth, In the latest issue of the Organic Growers School newsletter, you recommend planting flowers to attract parasitic wasps and flies for the control of harlequin bugs.  Can you offer any advice on what the maximum effective distance should be between your...

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Ask Tom: Heating Your Greenhouse

Ask Tom: Heating Your Greenhouse

Tom – What is the best way to heat a greenhouse? Tim, Candler NC Dear Tim, Most growers are looking for ways to extend the market season and to bring crops in early when demand is high. Cold tolerant crop selection, row cover, quick hoops and cold frames are...

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Ask Ruth: Harlequin Bugs

Ask Ruth: Harlequin Bugs

Dear Ruth, Something is attacking my greens. I’ve never seen them before, but my neighbor says they are harlequin bugs. They are orange, white, and black and look kind of like a stinkbug. Freaking out, Dave in Fairview, NC     Dear Dave, Your neighbor’s...

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Ask Tom: Identifying Tomato Blights

Ask Tom: Identifying Tomato Blights

Hello -- Thanks for the latest newsletter. Great info! I've been having tomato leaf blight on almost all my tomato plants. Is there any way to eliminate this? Thanks! Patricia Roshaven Patricia – Blight is both a specific and a generic term for leaves that wither and...

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Ask Tom: Losing Tomato Blossoms

Ask Tom: Losing Tomato Blossoms

Dear Tom – The tomato plants in my cold frame are dropping blossoms. What is causing that? -- Perplexed in Barnardsville Dear Perplexed – I suspect either heat in the evening or, more likely, the fruit to foliage ratio on your tomato plants. Tomatoes need relatively...

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Ask Ruth: Hot Pepper Spray

Ask Ruth: Hot Pepper Spray

Dear Ruth, I recently moved to eastern TN from New Mexico/Colorado where many (organic) gardeners use capsaicin spray, powder, or oil from pepper plants (which you can buy easily there at most garden stores) as a good alternative to deter deer, rabbits, squirrels (and...

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Ask Ruth: Japanese Beetles

Ask Ruth: Japanese Beetles

Dear Ruth, This is my second year at gardening and I am wondering what to do about Japanese Beetles. Last fall I lay down the milky spore and that has seemed to help some. I spray with a soap/oil solution, sanafad?...pick them off. They are devouring everything....

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Ask Tom: Ram Pumps

Ask Tom: Ram Pumps

Editor’s note: This month we have a new twist for the Ask Tom column – Tom is asking a question to Walter Harrill of ‘Imaldris Farm about ram pumps -- a pump that uses the energy of falling water to pump some of that water to a higher level, without an electric or gas...

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Ask Tom: Late Blight on Tomatoes

Ask Tom: Late Blight on Tomatoes

Dear Tom – How do you still have tomatoes in the fall? My plants went down with late blight. -- Frustrated Frustrated – For years the only reliable organic solution to late blight (Phytophthora infestans) was spraying copper and growing in a greenhouse or coldframe....

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Ask Ruth: Powdery Mildew

Ask Ruth: Powdery Mildew

Dear Ruth, The leaves on my squash have whitish spots and are starting to look a little shriveled. They were looking great, and now all of the sudden they look bad. It is on the stems too, and it seems to be spreading. What is this and what can I do? Tyler West...

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Ask Ruth: Straw Bale Gardening

Ask Ruth: Straw Bale Gardening

Dear Ruth, Please give me the true dirt on straw bale gardening. I have read info online about this method of gardening and it sounds like it would cut down on a lot of work and cost. Straw Bales vs. making a new set of raised beds. Much Thanks and Happy Gardens,...

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Ask Tom: Getting Certified

Ask Tom: Getting Certified

Dear Tom – I am interested in getting certified as an organic producer. How do I select a USDA accredited certification organization? Thanks -- Perplexed Dear Perplexed: You have 94 choices for a certifying organization which is accredited by USDA. About half of those...

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Ask Tom: Tools for Transplanting

Ask Tom: Tools for Transplanting

Dear Tom – I injured my knee right at the beginning of transplant season. I can drag myself along the ground with a seedling tray but that’s really slow. Do you have any suggestions for a mechanical transplanting aid? Thanks -- Moses in Curtis Creek   Dear Moses...

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Ask Ruth: Time Saving Tips

Ask Ruth: Time Saving Tips

Dear Ruth, I don’t have a lot of extra time when I get home from work, and need some quick and simple ways to maintain my garden this year. Any suggestions? Albert Bakersville, NC Dear Albert, It can be a big challenge to stay on top of your garden, with work,...

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Ask Tom: Finding and Keeping Employees

Ask Tom: Finding and Keeping Employees

Dear Tom: How do you find and hire a good farm help? Thanks -- Overworked in Grapevine Dear Overworked, We are spending a substantial amount of time putting our crew together this year. We normally need five people for two days a week. One worker is continuing on our...

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