Half-Day Workshop & Class Descriptions

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2019 Course Descriptions By Track

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Half Day Workshops


Cultivating Medicinal Herbs
Noelle Fuller

Learn to cultivate, harvest and use five medicinal herbs that grow well in the Southeast. We’ll cover the intricate offerings of Holy basil, Hibiscus, Lemongrass, Stinging Nettle, and Lemon Balm. Learn techniques for tea blending and create your own tea blend to take home.

Grow Your Own Mushrooms
William Padilla-Brown

Learn the simple and fun basics of mushroom cultivation. We will explore variety selection, understand their financial and ecological assets, and get hands-on experience with mycelium through various inoculation techniques. Take home your own mushroom spawn to get started.

Making Paper with Appalachian Plants
Alyssa Sacora

Make your own paper with plants that grow in your backyard! Learn about plant fibers, harvesting, and pulp preparation; familiarize yourself with low-tech equipment you can use at home; and best of all, make and take home your own plant-based paper.

Vegetable Ferments
Marissa Percoco

Hands-on demonstration of fermenting from start to finish including each of the four basic vegetable preservation methods. Fermentation is one of the oldest forms of food preservation; empower yourself to bypass the need for refrigeration and learn these ancient food ways.


Beginning Cheese Making
Christina Gordon

Learn cheese making basics: milk acquisition, storage, supplies, sanitation, cultures, rennet, curd. Also pressing and preparation for aging. Four different types: fresh chevre, waxed/aged, washed rind, and bloomy rind cheeses. Make and taste fresh mozzarella from local goats milk.

Equipment Operation & Maintenance for Women
Meagan Coneybeer Roberts

Female-centered instruction on the use and maintenance of large farm equipment, chain saws, and power tools. Learn to safely and proficiently operate equipment in a relaxed and supportive environment where beginning to intermediate students can hone their skills.

Growing Fruit & Nut Trees
James Geoffery Steen

Plant and maintain your own fruit and nut trees, whether in the backyard or on the farm. Covers: varieties of edible bushes, vines, and trees from A to Z; pruning and training young fruit trees; and grafting apples to take home.

Kudzu Vine Basketry
Jeff Gottlieb

Make beautiful use of this prolific weed! Split mature kudzu vines, prepare fibers, and weave a unique, elegant, and useful basket. Go home with more knowledge about different ways to use this fast-growing invasive and a basket of your own.

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Community Food

Sowing the Seeds of Racial Equity
Natilee McGruder

Racial inequities hold our entire community back. Address racial issues in the local, national, and global food system head-on and create a plan of action to incorporate racial equity work into your daily life.

Gaying the Garden: Cultivating Empowering Spaces for the LGBTQ+ Community on Land
Dallas Robinson

Understand and include LGBTQIA+ identified people in your world! And encourage their leadership in land stewardship. We’ll discuss identity politics, play games, incorporate plant biology, and learn about pronouns, all in preparation for respecting gender identity and sexual orientation.

Community Gardens for Good
Isa Whitaker

Discover the assets of community gardens and their power to encourage good physical and mental health, strengthen community, and engage youth. Combine gardening with Hip-Hop as a way to bring awareness of nature connection and getting youth to expand outside the box.

Embracing Transparency: How an Understanding of the Labeling Landscape Can Help Empower Food Choices
Callie Casteel

Finally, a workshop that describes what labels mean (and don’t mean) so that you can empower yourself at the market, the grocery, and online. Source high quality, sustainably-produced foods and understand the confusing and misleading food label terms and claims.

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Whole Food Nutrition
Chloe Lieberman

What foods has the human body evolved with? What is a healthy balance of nutrients? How can we grow a balanced diet on our land? Explore whole food nutrition and how to grow and prepare delicious meals that support us.

Foundations of Indian Cooking
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.

Wild Mead Making
Marissa Percoco

The ancient art of mead making mixes honey with fruit, flowers, roots and herbs to create beverage bliss. We’ll cover handling, harvesting, and preparing ingredients including ratios and qualities of sweeteners and yeasts, and bottling and storing. The focus is on wild, open, and cultured fermentation.

Value Added Southern Harvest
Cathy Cleary

Prepare and preserve your bountiful harvests. Recipes like pickled collards and sungold tomato pesto can add value to damaged or excess produce. We will prepare several recipes from Cathy’s book, The Southern Harvest Cookbook.

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Earth Skills

Cordage 101
Rachel Shopper

Learn and practice the ancient art of turning plant and animal fibers into cordage, which means ropes and cords for use in all aspects of life. Discover the history of cordage, different techniques, and bio-regional materials.

Wild Edibles
Luke Cannon

Come join us for an introduction to many of the distinctive and delicious wild edible plants (and a few fungi) found in the Southern Appalachian Mountains​, ​and learn how to bring marvelous mouthfuls of the wilds home to your table.

Traditional Agriculture in Native American Spirituality & Culture
Joe Candillo

Native Americans were the first agriculturalists, informed by culture, spirituality, and balance. Discover the founding concepts and indigenous spiritual beliefs of these the original “permaculturalists” and “sustainable farmers” and how they still fit into the human and natural world.

Woodslore & Wild Woods Wisdom
Doug Elliott

Whether he’s singing about ginseng, pontificating on possums, talking turtle, telling wild snake tales, or wailing out a jivey harmonica tune, storyteller/naturalist, Doug Elliott, will take you on a multifaceted celebration of the human connection to the natural world.

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Farmers: Beginning

Sustainable Farming Practices
Pam Dawling

An intro to year-round vegetable production; crop planning; record-keeping; rotations; cover crops; compost; and mulch. Also direct sowing and transplanting; crop spacing; succession scheduling for continuous harvests; efficient production strategies; season extension; pests, diseases and weeds; determining crop maturity and harvest methods.

Introduction to Flower Farming
Niki Irving

Learn to grow cut flowers including crop planning, variety selection, post-harvest production, choosing the right sales outlet, succession planting, soil preparation, tool selection, and more.

Finding Your Niche: Developing a Farm Business with a Focused Market
Evan Chender

It’s essential to stand out in the marketplace. Many regions are saturated and farms compete for customers. Develop a clear vision of the proper market for your farm business, whether a CSA, direct to consumers, wholesale, or other options.

The Regenerative Revolution
Rhyne Cureton

Learn to be a regenerative farmer through land management practices, community engagement, and focusing on the importance of treating your farm as a business.

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Farmers: Experienced

Surviving the Winter: Growing & Selling Storage Crops
Richard Boylan & Farmer Panel

Local food is in-demand year-round. Consider adding long-storing crops to your markets. Discuss production and post-harvest techniques for garlic, Irish potatoes, and winter squash, with room to broaden the discussion to meats, grains, less-known storage crops, and more.

Integrated Pest Management for the Market Farm
Ayanava Majumdar & Farmer Panel

Learn and discuss the details of organic insect pest management approaches, especially trap crops and organic insecticides. Pest exclusion systems for high tunnel producers may also be discussed.

Practical Tools for Disease Management
Patryk Battle & Farmer Panel

Organic disease management must start with the fundamentals: plant health, rotations, seasonality, genetics, sanitation and maximized air circulation. Too often such strategies are insufficient, so we will also cover bio controls and other organic disease management solutions.

Navigating Farm Labor
Lindsey Jacobs, Marianne Martinez & Farmer Panel

Navigating labor laws can be confusing, failing to comply can cost you, and deciding whether to utilize interns, contractors, or employees can be tricky. Join in on a roundtable discussion to dive into the practical and legal considerations of hiring additional farm help.

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Easy Pest Management Techniques for the Garden
Ayanava Majumdar

Discover the three levels of organic pest management and discuss in depth pest exclusion and organic insecticide research. This discussion will answer common garden insect pest questions.

Africa to Appalachia
Tarinii Shanai

Discover the traditional sustenance gardening techniques of West Africa and their relation to modern farming in Appalachia. Learn about the historical crops that made their way from Africa to the US and the array of nutritious varieties that can be incorporated into both home and market gardens.

Holistic Gardening – Pollinators, Beneficial Insects & Companion Plants
Angie Lavezzo

Discuss the benefits of attracting pollinators and other beneficial insects to your vegetable gardens such as boosting natural pest control, increased yields, and overall beauty. Learn the plants to choose and how to landscape to maximize their potential.

Collards: Exploring a Rich Southern Culinary & Garden Tradition
Ira Wallace

Collards are part of a rich culinary tradition based in the southeastern US with wide variations in color, shape, texture, and flavor. Learn to grow and enjoy them and also revive the cultural tradition of growing and saving heirloom varieties.

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Challenges & Opportunities with Exotic Invasives
Marc Williams

Discussion of the important phenomenon of exotic invasive plants in Southern Appalachia. We’ll describe the problem and reflect on control methods including using them in medicinal preparations.

Everything You Need to Know About Ginger & Turmeric
Patricia Kyritsi Howell

Turmeric and ginger, powerful healers, have been used for thousands of years. Incorporate them into your kitchen and medicine chest. Learn their extensive health benefits and basics for buying, storing and cooking these roots from this herbalist and cook.

Bitters for Better Digestion
Eileen Schaeffer & Amy Wright

Fall in love with bitters for better digestion! A thorough introduction with context in nutrition and herbalism to explain the body’s response to bitters and ideas on easy ways to incorporate bitter herbs and food in your life.

Healing the Womb: Clinical Use of Plants for the Female Reproductive System
Zaire Sabb

Reproductive complications and the attached emotional scarring that affects the health of women can be challenging to treat. Learn about clinical herbal applications for the treatment of conditions such as dysmenorrhea, amenorrhea, unexplained infertility, fibroids, endometriosis, and PCOS.

Botanical Skincare
Noelle Fuller

Learn about skin loving herbs, including rose, plaintain, and calendula, their benefits for the skin, and how to make preparations such as herbal infused oils and hydrosols. Bonus: why we shouldn’t be scared of the sun and safer skincare options.

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Seed to Stem – Using the Whole Plant
Chris Smith

Get as many yields from a single plant by applying a stem to stamen mentality. Roasted broccoli stem, okra leaf curry, chayote tendrils, peanut leaves, nasturtium flowers and winter squash seed oil. Multiply your yields from single crops!

Urban Land-Based Living
Mari Stuart

Can you live a land-based life in an urban/suburban setting? This class provides concrete action steps for urbanites who want to start sourcing more of their daily needs closer to home and for non-homeowners who want to be homesteaders.

Digital Skills for the Homesteader
Jason Contreras

Connecting with an online community through social media and video platforms is a common path for homesteaders. Learn from a skilled and self-taught homesteading videographer about sharing and monetizing your land-based living.

Happy Healthy Homesteading 101
Byron Ballard

Are you dreaming of a more resilient and healthy lifestyle? Explore ways to envision that process thoughtfully and to continue to a successful beginning, with actual manifestations (soil, plants, animals, orchard), and a renewed connection to the land.

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Animal Breeding 101
Johnny Rogers

Discover basic concepts in livestock genetic improvement including record keeping, breeding stock selection, and breeding systems for pasture-based livestock farms.

Conscious Omnivory: Buying & Growing Meat
Meredith Leigh

We need to change how we eat and market meat. Learn tips and tricks for meat preparation including the role of salt, the power of fat, and the importance of local and grass-fed products. For consumers and growers.

Rotational Shepherding
Sharon & Seth Dubuc

An overview of raising sheep in the mountains with an emphasis on rotational grazing and slow growth for optimum flavor and size. We will cover all aspects of our yearly shepherding rhythm from breeding to processing.

Silvopasture in the Mountains
Osker Brown

Discover the trials and tribulations of steep land silvopasture as experienced at Glorious Forest Farm in Madison County, NC. Discussion of rotational management of ground forages using swine and small ruminants, as well as integration of woody crops and tree fodder.

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Fungi 101
Christian K. Marr

Welcome to the wonderful world of fungi and their delicious fruit, mushrooms! This is an introduction to all things fungal, including life cycle and cultivation, identification and taxonomy, nutritional and medicinal values, sustainable practices using fungi, mycoremediation, and more!

Mycelium for Healthy Land
Leif Olson

Mycelium is less recognizable than the mushroom it forms, but it has many fascinating functions. Learn about the benefits of mycelium to landscape health and several techniques for growing and applying fungi to your farm, garden, meadow or forest.

Medicinal Mushrooms
Cornelia Cho

Covering both ancient knowledge and current research, learn how mushrooms can help us with many health issues including eczema, Parkinson’s disease, glucose regulation, dementia, immune regulation, addiction, depression, and more. Grow your own—often delicious—medicine on agricultural waste.

Adding Value With Mushrooms
William Padilla-Brown

Grow and harvest Mushrooms! Learn mushroom species, foraged vs. cultivated mushrooms, medicinal properties, how to cook with them, and easy value-added products to use and sell. Whether you’re an eater, producer, or seller, this workshop will offer value.

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My Permaculture Journey
Peter Bane

A world-renowned permaculture teacher shares his story of three different homestead farm projects, each spanning 5-12 years in three different regions (Southern mountain valleys, Northern coastal dunes, and Midwest clay hills). Hear and see the insights, challenges, and wild rides.

Societal-Scale Permaculture: Mutual Aid, Carbon Farming & Democratic Renewal
Zev Friedman

Will humans survive? Will we find ingenuity for a future? Ecosystems use nested layers of co-operation and lots of experimentation. Delve into permaculture at a societal and global scale: transformative physical, social, and economic strategies to help systems rapidly adapt.

Diverse & inclusive Permaculture: Cultivating Diversity Beyond the Landscape
Indy Srinath

Foster and cultivate a community of gardeners that are demographically diverse. Create a personalized and expanded network, explore collaboration, learn inclusivity, both in the garden and in your social structures. Southside Community Garden discussed as a diverse, inclusive model.

Permaculture Plants for the Southern Mountains & Beyond
Natalie Bogwalker

Discover 50 highly useful, and mostly edible, perennial plants for the permaculture landscape. Learn to grow and harvest them, preferred microclimates, and where to forage them. Gain 50 new friends and get inspired to implement your own projects.

Garden, Landscape, & Nursery: Three Integrated Enterprises Through a Permaculture Lens
Randal & Cassie Pfleger

Gardening, landscaping, and nurseries are three inter-related enterprises that offer numerous opportunities for integration and increased yields. Learn how these three enterprises can help your land ecologically and financially.


Beginning Beekeeping in Today’s World
Sarah McKinney

Beekeeping has never been harder and or more important! Learn about some of the biggest challenges bees are facing and how beekeepers can manage and mediate to help bees survive and thrive.

Gardens That Matter: Sharing our Landscape with Pollinators
Amy Landers

From bumblebees to monarchs, pollinators are declining due to habitat loss, pesticides, and other threats. The good news? We can save our biodiversity by sharing our landscapes. Learn how to make your garden, farm, or backyard a place for pollinators.

Eat, Prey, Bug!
Emily Ogburn

We’ll discuss predators and parasitoids of crop pests. A look at some of the latest research and how growers might use this science to enhance natural biological control of pests on their land, mitigating insecticide use.

Seed, Flower, Fruit, Repeat: Full Circle Pollinator Gardening
Kim Bailey

Cultivating a diverse array of plants, bushes, vines, and trees will provide critical food for pollinators plus bear tasty fruits for the gardener! Topics include seed propagation, buzz-pollination, cross-fertilization, and more! Examples include ground cherries, blueberries, passion vines, and pawpaws.

Getting to Know Your Pollinators
Jill R. Sidebottom

Bees? Wasps? Flies? Beetles? Many of them mimic each other! Which are pollinators? Which are beneficial? Which are scary? Get to know what’s buzzing around your flowers in WNC, how they help you, and how you can help them.

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Designing Systems for Fowl
Karen Johnston

Discover a multitude of management styles. Learn about growing pasture and landscaping for poultry. Discover the style of coop and forage for your land and predators. Work with broody hens or have them raise chicks. Explore using manure as fertilizer.

Nutrition, Feeds & Feeding of Your Flock
Jeff Mattocks

Introduction to poultry nutrition and the necessities in poultry feed. Discuss “natural” vs. organic. Learn the details about GMO feed, the impact of soy and how the feeding of your birds impacts their growth, their taste and their nutritional value.

Poultry for Profit
Brent Wills

If you’ve got plenty of eggs or a freezer full of meat birds, now you must sell them. Learn the necessary skills to develop your customer base, so that you can sell your poultry products including collective networking strategies.

Introduction to Sustainable Poultry
Jim Adkins

Raising standard poultry is the only true way to improve the sustainability of quality local food while preserving the strength of Heritage poultry. This class will answer: What makes a flock of poultry sustainable? What are Standard bred Poultry?

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Soils 101
Mark Dempsey

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.

Earthworms for Living Soil
Mary Ann Smith

Composting with worms is a simple process that produces a super-enriched soil amendment. Come learn not only the basics about worms and worm composting, but also the science behind successful gardening with worm products. The magic is in the microbes!

Carbon Farming for Climate Resilience
Laura Lengnick

Sequester carbon in the garden and farm for a triple win: increase soil health, enhance community resilience, and cool the planet. Carbon farming uses sustainable practices that remove CO2 from the atmosphere and store it in plants and soil.

DIY Soil Fertility Inputs
Chuck Mashburn

Take your soil’s health into your own hands by making low cost fertility products on the farm from readily available ingredients, including water soluble calcium and calcium phosphate, fermented plants, fish products, and lactic acid bacteria solutions.

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Sustainable Forestry

What’s Nuts?
Bill Whipple & Justin Holt

Don’t have land, money, experience, or time to wait for trees to bare? Start your own nut-erprise by knowing what to do with the native nuts that fall all around us. Understand the value of nuts and how to build a “nutwork” to help you generate income and community.

Establishing & Managing Ginseng on Your Farm Forest
Jim Hamilton

Ginseng is a viable way to produce income from your forestland or wooded backyard. Topics include site selection and preparation, soil fertility requirements, planting methods, companion plants, harvesting, production issues, value-added products, and marketing.

Horse Powered Logging
Chad Miano

Learn about low-impact timber management considering different methods of animal powered extraction, tree selection, marketing logs, and adding value. Leave inspired to steward your forest more ecologically and effectively.

Sawmill Uses on the Homestead
Jacob Crigler & Kara Dodson

Milling lumber is a cost effective way to build infrastructure on your land. Learn how Full Moon Farm used our sawmill to build a barn, tiny home, livestock shed, and as a side business. Increase your technical knowledge about milling lumber.

Sustainable Living

Trash to Treasure: Managing Waste for Income
Rhonda Sherman

Vermicompost sells for $200 to $1,800 per cubic yard (compared to $35 for compost). Learn how to turn food scraps, manure, crop residues, coffee grounds, and brewery waste into vermicompost that increases crop yields and suppresses diseases and pests.

Solar Energy for Home & Farm
Chavo Krenek (SATURDAY)/Matthew Bennett (SUNDAY)

Apply the most current solar technology and equipment to your home or farm, including battery storage options. Discuss the current financial incentives, such as federal tax credits and the solar rebate program for Duke customers in NC.

Permaculture Practices in Homestead Water Management
John Henry Nelson

Water is the most important element you interact with on the homestead. Learn how to collect it, clean it, and store it for maximizing resilience and increasing independence.

Small Scale Black Soldier Fly Production
Chris Link

Black soldier fly larvae are an excellent source of sustainable protein for aquaculture and animal nutrition. They can be used for composting household food scraps and agricultural waste products rapidly. Learn how to utilize them on varying scales and discuss different digester designs.

Thinking Big

Sacred Space: Traditional Native American Perspective About Land & Environment
Joe Candillo

Explore early Native Americans perspective pertaining to place, land ownership, and the environment. Learn how these places were traditionally understood by indigenous peoples, how their philosophies differed from European perspectives, and consider how both perspectives may impact the future of our environment.

Nature’s Recipe for Cultural Wellness, Healing, & Resilience
Christina Bouza

Savor tasty nibbles as we collectively uncover great grandma’s wild diversity of ingredients from local food, holistic process, ritual and celebration to natural burial, reciprocity, interdependence & intersectional social justice. Interactive, somatic, and delicious.

Taking the Maker & Sharing Economies to the Next Level
Ben Harper

Planned obsolescence and consumer culture getting you down? Let’s grow the maker and sharing communities to serve as a bridge from our current failing systems (economic and government) into systems which value equality, creativity, innovation and true community resilience.

The Quality of Water = The Quality of Life: Restoring Waters for Planetary Healing
John & Jonathan Todd

From hurricane restoration to 55-gallon barrel backyard aquatic systems, two ecological design leaders share perspective on the quality water to all scales of life, both in nature and built environments. Summary of tools and management strategies.

Questions about the program or interested in speaking at a future conference? Email Sera Deva, Conference Curriculum Coordinator at farmer-programs@organicgrowersschool.org.

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.