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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Forest Farming Intensive Resources

 Resources from the 2017 Forest Farming Intensive Certification & Verification of Woodland Botanicals 101 Certification & Verification of Woodland Botanicals 101 Powerpoint Growing Woodland Botanicals 101 Harvesting & Processing Woodland Botanicals 101...

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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 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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Gardens of Fairview 2017 Tour — Getting to Know Our Growers

As my AmeriCorps Project Conserve service with OGS winds down, I have a lot of fond memories of the food and farm folk I’ve met in the last eleven months. One such opportunity was the Gardens of Fairview Tour in June. The tour has grown beyond a focus on food security to include arts and crafts as well as presentations on community gardening, attracting butterflies, caring for bees, green building and permaculture, and year-round gardening. It’s a shared vision creating community around food and the places in which people grow it. Love it!

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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

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

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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2017 Spring Conference Review

Our friend Jennifer Braverman of Sea Willow Herbs attended this year’s Spring Conference and posted a review video to her YouTube channel. Check out what she had to say about the classes, exhibit hall, and more!   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRHDvgwcT5Q...

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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

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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KAIROS

The Greeks have a term for “the right and opportune moment.” Kairos is that place on the precipice of change from which, if we so choose, old assumptions give way to a deeper, more authentic worldview.

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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: downloadable MP3 or...

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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 tell...

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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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Earth Day Film

Earth Day Film & Panel Discussion What: Seed, The Untold Story Date: Saturday, April 22, 2017 Earth Day Time:  Doors open at 5:30 for refreshments. Panel discussion to follow the movie. Location: The Boardroom (2nd floor) at Lenoir Rhyne, Asheville Campus, 36 Montford...

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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

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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Three Sisters: Communication, Community, Resiliency

From the natural landscape to the agricultural, human beings are a huge part of the picture. What can we learn from “the way things work?” If we are paying attention, if we look around us or are actively involved in the change that is such an inevitable part of life, the answer is community. Like the plant systems around us, we are gathering in symbiotic ways, drawn to the ecologies that best suit our particular needs. We long for connection, for the way in which that supports each of us as part of a “together.”

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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? Pick your...

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Writing Contest: First-Place Essay

by Amber Emens When I think of where I started my journey in organic growing, it takes me back to  the Michigan summers I enjoyed as a little girl. Summers were spent at my grandparents’ organic blueberry farm in the country. I would walk there every morning, taking a...

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Writing Contest: Second-Place Essay

by Rita Gowler Let me tell you the corny story about my experience with the Organic Growers School Spring Conference. The seed was planted in my brain about six years ago when I found out about Organic Growers School Spring Conference. I had seen the announcement in...

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Writing Contest: Third-Place Essay

by Rain Parker republished from her blog The Farmer + Forager… http://eightowlsfarmstead.com/wordpress1/2016/12/05/growing-organically/   Six years ago, I didn’t even really understand what organically grown meant. I mean, I saw vegetables in the grocery store that...

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Writing Contest: Honorable Mention

by Lauren DiMinico For as long as I can remember, I have loved to cook. As a kid I would watch cooking shows on TV and try to replicate the dishes I saw. After a few years of trial and error, I realized my best dishes were the product of using fresh, organic...

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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............         And how you'd...

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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!

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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New Office, Bright Future

For the last year or so the Organic Growers School has been based out of AB Tech’s Small Business Center in Candler, NC. This has proved to be a great space for our growing organization, so much so that we’ve expanded our office into 2 adjoining rooms!

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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

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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We’ve Got a New Look!

Over the last few months we have been brainstorming about how to create a more distinctive look for Organic Growers School. Through the years we’ve added many programs for home growers and farmers, each with its own identity.

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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!

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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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

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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I’m going to the……

Spread the word about the 22nd Annual Spring Conference, for healthy eaters, home growers, & farmers, coming up on March 7&8, 2015 at UNC Asheville, NC.   The Organic Growers School Spring Conference is a one-of-a-kind event that brings people of all walks of life...

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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 School is a...

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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 Agency...

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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

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, energy,...

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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

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?

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

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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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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GMO OMG Screening a Huge Success!

  Thank you so much to everyone who came out last Tuesday for our screening of the film GMO OMG followed by a Q&A with the directors and a panel discussion with local & national health & food experts! We came pretty close to selling out the house, with the line going...

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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

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 Charisma of Cardboard

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

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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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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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Thirty Minute Mozzarella

Below is the recipe presented by Dawn Matthews of the Thankful Goat at the 2014 Spring Conference in a class called Thirty-Minute Mozzarella. Enjoy! 30 Minute Mozzarella 1 gallon milk, goat or cow, not ultra pasteurized (Hopey aka Amazing Savings) 1½  tsp citric acid...

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It’s a Wrap!

Below are the recipes presented by Diana Schmitt McCall of the Black Mountain Community Garden at the 2014 Spring Conference in a class called Easy Kimchi at Home. Enjoy! It’s a Wrap! Flatbreads from around the World Injera--traditional Ethiopian flatbread 1½ cups...

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Easy, Delicious Appetizers

Below are the recipes presented by Laura Fine of Laura Fine Desserts at the 2014 Spring Conference in a class called Easy, Delicious Appetizers. Enjoy! Easy, Delicious Appetizers Baguettes with Chevre and Honey Walnut Spread 2 c. walnuts ¾ c. honey ¾ c. dried pears or...

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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

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

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

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 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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Presenting Conference Encores!

Organic Growers School is pleased to announce our new fall class series, Conference Encores. Revisit some of your favorite gardening and homesteading classes from the Annual Spring Conference, designed to get you inspired to plan or expand your garden for next spring....

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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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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 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

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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A Brief Discussion of GMO’s

1. In laymen's terms, what is a GMO, and what kind of examples of these do we see every day? A GMO, or genetically modified organism, is an organism whose genes have been tinkered with using genetic engineering techniques (as opposed to traditional methods of...

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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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The Buzz

  Bees are the main pollinators of most of the food we eat, and The US Department of Agriculture estimates that there will not be enough bees to pollinate the blueberry, avocado, and apple crops this season. Have you heard that one of the main causes of our bee...

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Veggie Gardening 101 Workshop

If you've been thinking about trying your hand at growing some vegetables and are looking for a little guidance and encouragement, then go on over to the Beaverdam Community Garden at the YMCA this Saturday morning, 10am to noon. They are offering an introduction to...

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Hillcrest Unity Garden Workday!

On March 8th, OGS partnered with the Hillcrest Unity Garden to support food security! Together, we more than doubled the square footage of the garden, put in a couple beautiful raised beds, and built one sturdy groundhog-proof fence! Thank you to everyone who made...

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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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CRAFT TOUR: Useful Plants Nursery

Once again we were greeted by great weather for the fifth CRAFT tour at Useful Plants Nursery at Earthhaven Ecovillage on July 14th. We were hosted by Debbie Leinhart and Chuck Marsh co-owners of Useful Plants and Lily and Lewis, members of the nursery crew. The tour...

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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. The lettuce was not happy but we still...

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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 work, and we...

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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 bad enough...

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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

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 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: 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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