Workshop Descriptions By Track
29th Annual Spring Conference // March 18-20, 2022
Click on a Track to see the descriptions for the workshops in that track.
Fishing 3 Ways: Catching, filleting, cooking
This session explores the history of fishing in WNC and indigenous fish and how they got here. We will discuss the ecstasy of catching your own fish, how to break them down, and how to cook them with finesse.
Get Gut Happy!
Our gut affects our behavior and our emotions. By altering our diet, we can transform our physical health and get gut happy! This workshop will nourish and inspire you to incorporate new skills and recipes. Learn the sacred art of brewing Jun and how to make gut-healthy treats!
Plant-Based Cheesemaking: Traditional Techniques
Through time-tested techniques and rigorous exploration, Darë defies expectations while upholding traditional craft. We will use plant-based alternatives to create dairy-free cheeses that challenge the norm using science, craft, and a dash of culinary magic. We will discuss fermentation techniques and impart traditional taste to an innovative medium.
Global Influences: From West Africa to Western North Carolina
While many North Carolinians are unfamiliar with West African food, many of our everyday comfort foods derive from West African dishes. Join us for a tasty exploration of the influences of West African foods and culinary traditions on American dishes.
Agritourism in WNC: Exploring opportunities (Panel)
Ariel Zijp, Franny Tacy (SATURDAY)
Tourism growth in our region can allow farmers to educate consumers, create memorable experiences, and increase profitability—but legal and logistical challenges abound. Our panel includes individuals who have made agritourism a vital part of their business. Class participants will learn the “why and how” of agritourism in WNC.
CSAs From A to Z
Join Jason Roland as he shares how his farm, Organically Roland, runs a home delivery and pickup CSA. From customization to finding customers, learn how to sell your produce directly to the consumer and how to plan and plant for a CSA market garden.
Growing Together: Farmer cooperatives and collectives
Mary Bulan, Shakara Tyler, Sunil Patel (SUNDAY)
Farmer cooperatives have a long, successful history as organizational structures for combining resources and achieving shared success. Our panelists will describe how they have used collective power to access land, infrastructure, equipment, capital, and markets while building community and increasing resilience. Join the conversation with these inspiring leaders.
Healthy Crew Dynamics
Farming education often focuses on technique and forgets to include education about managing, engaging with, and motivating the people who make small farming possible. From orchestrating healthy relationships to being a confident representative of your farm, crew dynamics are crucial to the success of any farming business.
Growing Your Brand: Propelling your business and society forward – CANCELLED
As our society learns to engage more critically with social issues, consumers are increasingly conscious of what businesses and farms they support. This class will discuss practical ways for small farms to build a socially-conscious, sustainable, and profitable brand.
Park Your Tiller: No-till methods for the small-scale grower
Learn practical methods and accessible approaches to reduce tilling and cultivation, and improve soil health while still growing a successful crop. We’ll also discuss intercropping and how to manage cover crops when followed by transplanting and direct seeding.
Cooperative Strategies for Community-Scale Agroforestry
Take a deep dive into regionally appropriate, climate-resilient agroforestry techniques like silvopasture, living fences, riparian restoration systems, and more. Discuss cooperative economic and social strategies for implementing these practices at a community scale. Zev will highlight examples, including Cooperate WNC and other regional and global projects.
Fungal Forestry: Restoring forest memory
Rodney & Heather Webb
Ecological Memory is a term used to describe how ecosystems respond to disturbances and the impacts on resiliency. How do humans integrate into forest ecosystem restoration as positive forces? This overview will look at a Southern Appalachian homestead that embraces an abundant fungal component for forest and human health.
Organic Ginseng Cultivation: Growing Appalachian roots
Dr. Iris Gao
American ginseng is a valuable medicinal herb and hidden treasure of Appalachia; besides benefiting the environment, organic farming of American ginseng can increase the crop’s potency and unit value. We will explore the most recent developing aspects of organic farming practices as we explore this unique native herb.
Growing and Marketing Woodland Botanicals
Dr. Jeanine Davis
There is a growing demand for native woodland medicinal herbs such as goldenseal, black cohosh, and ramps. Opportunities range from running a nursery selling planting stock to forest farmers, providing raw material to herbalists/manufacturers, and creating value-added products. We’ll cover how to grow and sell these plants.
Africa to Appalachia
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 you can incorporate into both home and market gardens.
Fresh Squeezed: Growing Citrus in WNC
Learn how and how not to grow patio citrus in WNC. Review the potential for cold hardy citrus and other tropicals at home.
From Grass to Garden
This class will explore the steps our family took to transition from a lawn to a food forest in eight years. We will share the hows and whats of our actions and touch on things we might have done differently.
Holistic Gardening: Beneficial insects and companion plants
Discuss the benefits of attracting pollinators and other beneficial insects to your vegetable gardens, such as boosting natural pest control, increasing yields, and maximizing overall beauty. Learn which plants to choose and how to incorporate them into your landscape to expand their potential.
Appalachian Medicinals: Use and Conservation
This workshop will focus on the major medicinal plants growing in the Appalachian region used in herbalism. We will look at the current state of their conservation and the work of the organization, United Plant Savers, then conclude with conservation concepts through cultivation and exotic invasive analogs.
Hemp Hemp Hooray: Best Practices for WNC Outdoor Cultivation
Andrew Wheeler and Margaret Bloomquist
Hemp, or Cannabis sativa, has been a prevalent crop in North Carolina since modern production began in 2017. Join a local farmer and researcher to learn about small-scale hemp production, NC State research updates, and future opportunities.
Herbal Remedies for Complex Times
Patricia Kyritsi Howell, RH (AHG)
Whether you want to ease tension, improve sleep, strengthen immunity, or do something else, herbs can help! This class introduces simple ways to integrate herbs into your daily life for healing, cooking, and more. We will discuss sustainable sourcing, directions for making remedies, and guidelines for safe and effective dosing.
Herbs for Resilience: Supporting the nervous system
In this class, we will discuss the nervous system, how it responds to stress, and how to bring it back into balance. We will cover herbs and their uses in fortifying the nervous system and decompressing our nervous system while building resilience in our bodies.
Tree Crops for Regenerative Culture in Appalachia
Tree crops are a critical element of regenerative agriculture. We will explore these nutritional and ecological powerhouses, focusing on native nut trees of the Appalachians. We’ll also look at cooperative, community-based approaches to working with these crops that can extend their ecology-restoring potential into the social realm.
Description coming soon.
Forestry and Land Retention: Empowering African American Landowners
The Sustainable Forestry and Land Retention Project works to restore and conserve threatened African American-owned forest land in the Roanoke Electric Cooperative’s service area. African American forest owners are gaining access to USDA, state, and other conservation programs to increase asset values, reduce land loss risks, and create legacies.
Healthy Habitats: Managing land for wildlife
Mary Vann Johnston
Are you managing your land for wildlife, or are you interested in doing so? This class will cover relevant types of wildlife habitat in the Southern Appalachian mountains, what habitat work can entail, and tools that can help you achieve your goals for a healthy forest.
Livestock & Poultry
Hentopia for Chicken Keepers: DIY sanity savers
Go on vacation without a chicken sitter! Discover techniques and tools that will help you save time and money on chicken keeping, such as low-tech self-filling waterers, vending machine feeders, best nest boxes, and a nearly free coop made of pallets. The session will include handouts, Q&A, and props!
Regenerative Farm Health: Monitoring impact and outcome
For years, practitioners and scientists have claimed regenerative practices improve soil health, increase biodiversity, and prevent erosion and eutrophication while enhancing animal and human health. But how do we know what’s actually happening on our land? Learn how to monitor your agroecosystem to ensure you have the intended impact.
Praise the Lard: Profitable pork production
In this session, Pork Rhyne will teach you practical principles to structure your pig enterprise by looking at husbandry practices from a profitability lens, including breed selection, breeding, feeding, and health. This session will equip you with wisdom, without the hogwash, so that you can be profitable in your context!
Silvopasture Basics: Integrating animals and forest systems
Silvopasture is the integration of livestock and trees. We will cover bringing trees into pasture systems and animals into the woods, focusing mainly on the tree component rather than livestock.
Living on the Land
Cherokee Foods, Gathering, and Wildcrafting
In Cherokee wisdom, it is essential to have a relationship with the plant and the land you are harvesting. In this workshop, our discussions will center around common wildcrafted food plants, their local history and lore, and respectful harvest methods to ensure abundance into the future.
Fun with Food Preservation
Food preservation is essential to extending the enjoyment of our bounty. We will cover excellent foods to choose from and forms of putting them up, including canning, fermenting, drying, freezing, and pickling. Lastly, we will consider an array of tasty preparations that you can craft from this stored abundance.
Making Room for Wildlife on the Homestead
How can we learn to respect and nurture wildlife as it moves through our property, interacts with our projects, and benefits the ecosystems where we live? We’ll explore the ecology of animals and plants we share the land with and encourage you to make integrated land-use decisions through this lens.
Seed Saving 101: How and why to cultivate food sovereignty
Dr. Lee Barnes
Join Lee for a hands-on presentation of the whys and hows of seed-saving open-pollinated medicinal and native plants and heirloom vegetables. Attendees will learn broad principles of true-to-type seed saving, plus tips on pollination, proper cleaning, and preparation for storage.
Ethical Mushroom Foraging – CANCELED
Start Foraging Mushrooms
Learning wild mushrooms can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be: children in Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America learn to do it easily. And you can too. Almost as important, you can learn how to boost your income by safely and ethically foraging feral fungi. Demand for mushrooms from chefs and foodies is growing and high prices reflect that. Any farm, homestead or neighborhood harbors these tasty and nutritious morsels. Attendees will learn to make a mushroom hook and how to approach chefs.
Fungal Food and Medicine
Collaborating with fungi means almost anyone can grow their food and medicine. Learn more about mushrooms as our partners in health and well-being. We’ll discuss how we can benefit from ancient wisdom and practices of mushroom-loving cultures, as well as from the rapidly expanding research into psychoactive fungi.
Introduction to Mushroom Cultivation
This workshop will provide you with indoor and outdoor specialty mushroom production foundations. We will begin with a quick review of fungal basics and the mushroom life cycle, then dive into cultivation stages and methods, exploring low-tech and commercial techniques.
Mycoremediation with Koji
Mycoremediation is the art of using fungi to clean up contaminants and improve soil health. Come learn how to use koji to create crop-specific fertilizers that help increase the bioavailability of nutrients and nutrient density in the soil.
Lean Techniques: Reduce waste on your permaculture farm
Explore the permaculture principle of “produce no waste” through lean farming techniques and their application. This session is a robust set of tools for solving a wide variety of problems and is relevant for permaculturists, farmers, business owners, and entrepreneurs.
Permaculture Design Basics
Walk through the steps of designing for a permaculture-minded landscape. At the end of this class, students will understand the critical elements required to create a practical blueprint for their own edible and ecological paradise.
Permaculture Principles: Beginning cultivation
Begin your permaculture journey. Learn the 12 basic principles of permaculture, an essential foundation. See examples of these principles in action and learn how they apply to agriculture, community, and interpersonal relationships.
Permaculture for Urban Dwellers, Community Gardeners, and Small-Scale Growers
This class will explore how to apply permaculture in urban contexts versus large-scale operations. We’ll examine growing in small spaces, community gardening, permaculture for renters, and more! Bring your questions and unique challenges of applying permaculture in the urban environment.
Equitable Food and Medicine
This class is for anyone looking for approaches to decolonize the food system. We will create a deeper understanding of incorporating equity into your farm, community, and everyday life to support a more just food system. We’ll also provide tools to fight food apartheid in your local community.
CANCELLED – Growing with Change: Mental health, farming, and self-care
we are dirt
when we look at nature, do we see ourselves as a part of the land or do we see something to manipulate and control, something to fear? how do we begin or continue to challenge the binaries of wild and civilized, of “natural hierarchies”? this conversation will explore the ways we step into land stewardship through a queer, eco feminist lens.
Land and Legacy: Ancestral Healing through farming and cultivation
This session will story-tell the experience of a first-generation, multi-racial woman—the first in her lineage to be disconnected from ancestral land. The class will motivate, inspire, and hold all accountable to land equity and food justice while preserving, honoring, and holding sacred the access to and caretaking of the Wild.
The Other Carolina: Stories of Struggle & Resilience in South Carolina
This class will cover South Carolina’s deep history, which fuels the movement of liberation and autonomy. The speaker will share knowledge from a range of folks who have chosen not to be on the front stage to create the vision they intend for themselves.
Practical Nutrient Management for Successful and Sustainable Production
This class will cover the fundamentals of nutrient management in crop production, including plant nutrition, nutrient movement, and characteristics of different soil amendments and fertilizers. Participants will gain confidence in developing effective nutrient management strategies in their operations.
Soil is complex, but you can become a better farmer with basic knowledge of how it works. Learn the five management priorities that are the basis for understanding soil, how the many soil properties interact, and how to manage healthy soil and plants.
Let’s Get Composting!
Come learn about systems that regenerate soil — the microbiome and foundation of all life. Explore different composting methods and discover low-tech, affordable systems you can implement into your life now. Together, we can repurpose waste, minimize chemical inputs, improve soil, and increase nutrient-density within our foods.
Waste Not: Urine
Urine is a potent source of beneficial phosphorus and nitrogen fertilizer, but has been avoided in conventional applications due to stigma and the need for precautions surrounding its use. Come learn about urine chemistry, best practices for handling, application as a fertilizer, and surprising historical and modern-day applications for urine.
Biofuels 101: Running your engine on waste oil
Learn to reuse one of the most common types of waste while reducing gas consumption! This workshop will provide a basic description of running a diesel engine on used cooking oil. We will talk theory, mechanical modification options, troubleshooting, and gathering and processing waste oil.
Invasives in Native Culture
How do you study other cultures and incorporate ancient techniques without appropriation? In this workshop, Nancy, a woman of mixed heritage, will share how she added value to plants no one else wanted. Learn Native American stories of respect for all sentient beings by turning a stick into a vessel.
Off-Grid Solar 101
Are you interested in transitioning your farm or home to renewable solar energy? This workshop will get you started by sharing foundational knowledge such as site assessment for solar, design for small off-grid solar systems, and battery storage (especially with nickel-iron batteries).
Water Resilience and Mitigation
John Henry Nelson
In an age of climate change with water scarcity and flooding, it is essential to design and build water resiliency on your land. Learn how to work with water on your homestead or farm to mitigate overflows and collect and store water for ecosystems and food production.
Backyard Carbon Farming (SATURDAY)
Join the growing movement of carbon farmers, even if the land you manage is only a small yard or garden! This session covers the most effective gardening techniques for enhancing the soil’s ability to capture carbon. The same practices also make your garden more climate-resilient.
Berry Paradise: Growing blueberries and blackberries organically
Growing berries organically is not for the faint of heart. Dive into the details of growing blueberries and blackberries successfully, with no inorganic inputs. This workshop will also address how to merchandise and enjoy up to a 230% higher margin over conventional growing.
Growing Food Independence (SUNDAY)
Rob Greenfield embarked on a year-long immersion of growing and foraging 100% of his food. Nature was his garden, his pantry and his pharmacy. This class will inspire and educate you on how to take power back from Big Ag and gain food freedom for yourself and your community.
The Weeds You Need
Many pesky weeds can also be excellent medicine. Common weeds like honeysuckle, Japanese knotweed, and mimosa tree have traditional herbal uses. Unlike woodland medicinals, which are getting rarer, these are abundant and accessible. This class will discuss identifying, harvesting, and using many of the exotic invasives found in southern Appalachia.
Know the Laws: Regulation of small to midsize farms
Small farms operate in a unique environment: consumer demand for locally-grown products is growing, yet increased regulation can drive out small businesses. Explore regulations impacting growers, including the Food Safety Modernization Act, the National Organics Program, and cottage food laws.
Belly Biochemistry: Relationships Between Food, Microbiome, and Wellbeing
Leah Webb (SATURDAY)
The microbial population living in the digestive tract largely influences our immune response. Join Leah Webb as she explains the ins and outs of digestion in an easy-to-understand approach and sheds light on the relationship between food, microbiome, and wellbeing.
Farmer Veterans Building Community
Jaye Edens (SUNDAY)
Many military veterans suffer from various mental health issues. Join Jaye to learn about his journey to agriculture while dealing with PTSD, traumatic brain issues, and depression. Hear how he faced those demons to become a successful farmer, husband, and father.
Farmworker Health and Justice
Phoebe Gooding (SUNDAY)
Farmworkers are on the frontlines of toxic pesticide exposure and a host of labor and human rights violations. Farm work remains a dangerous profession, continuing a legacy of agricultural injustice. Join Toxic Free NC to learn more about farmworkers in North Carolina and ways that you can stand in solidarity.
Guide to Feeding Community
Amyrose Foll (SATURDAY)
The concept of farming, which feeds all people, is one of the most fundamental cultural values that binds the Wabanaki people together. Learn how Amyrose dismantles and transforms her regional foodshed and creates community-driven systems based on collectivism by providing food, plants, and seeds to various community organizations.
Healing Trauma With Plants
April Jones (SATURDAY)
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have experienced a great deal of trauma. Now, we must find strategies to initiate healing. Join April to learn about how engaging with plants can improve mental health and wellbeing.
Indigenous Principles of Just Transition
Mary Crowe (SATURDAY)
The Indigenous Environmental Network is a grassroots group that organizes to combat injustice with Indigenous worldviews at the center. The IEN created the Indigenous Principles of Just Transition to forge a path through our ongoing environmental and economic disasters. Learn about the principles and how you can support IEN’s work.
Feeding Kids Healthfully
Leah Webb (SUNDAY)
Parents understand the importance of a healthy diet but influences from peers, media, and other forms of advertising complicate mealtimes. No perfect solution exists, but there are a number of stress-free strategies that parents can use to encourage kids to develop a more diverse palate. This workshop is designed for caretakers of children age 0 to 8 years of age.
Building Community Through Plants and Culture
Brandon Ruiz (SUNDAY)
Plants, medicine, and food are powerful forces that connect to place and history, preserve cultural lineages, and build community. Brandon is an herbalist and educator. Join him to learn and discuss different approaches to work with and support your community through plant medicine, home gardening, and more.
Beekeeping 101: Honeybees and their byproducts
Oxx Simeina (MORNING)
Learn the basics of keeping a colony of bees without pesticides. We will dive into the many byproducts created by bees, including what they are, how bees make them, their benefits, and how to process them into products at home. You will get the chance to see and touch samples and experience a hands-on demo.
Biochar for the Small Farm or Garden
Alex Gray (AFTERNOON)
Build soil health with biochar! Discover the utility of biochar in soil regeneration in this hands-on workshop. We will learn three simple, low-cost approaches to making biochar with common feedstocks and demonstrate methods for crushing and charging biochar. Take some biochar home with you to try in your garden or farm!
Buggin’ Out: Integrated pest management in organic systems
Lisa Gonzalez (MORNING)
This workshop will cover plant pathology principles, including pests, diseases, and abiotic conditions. We will focus on understanding healthy plant physiology and how to create an environment where plants thrive. Participants will learn how to diagnose plant problems and use IPM strategies to address various issues.
Cherokee Heritage, Food Ways, and Ecological Flavors
Tyson Sampson (AFTERNOON)
Connection with wild foods make up some of the roots that connect the Cherokee people to the land and point us to what can be done to decolonize our food systems and build together for our common causes. In this workshop, we will explore the living systems, folkways, and relational practices that weave together the old ways (the original teachings), and taste some ecological flavors that bring us into relationship with our land.
Fermenting Garden Abundance: Vegetable fermentation techniques from around the world (AFTERNOON)
Fermentation is a delicious, effective, safe, and ancient method for preserving the bounty of your vegetable garden or farm. In this class, we will learn simple concepts and a range of techniques for fermenting vegetables, from sauerkraut and sour pickles to Korean kimchi, Chinese pao-cai, and others.
Herbal Alchemy: Brewing spring tonics, teas, and meads
Almeta Tulloss (MORNING)
Take a trip through your senses while exploring the flavors, medicinal potential, and microbiomes of plants. Experience an Afro-Indigenous herbalist’s perspective on brewing wild and cultivated herbs from Southern Appalachia. Learn to ferment and extract native plants and carminative spices in an experiment that you can take home with you!
Invasive Vine Basketry
Nancy Basket (AFTERNOON)
Native Americans know all plants have medicinal properties and spirits as living beings, even those considered “”invasives”” that are often detested and discarded. This session will cover the uses of such invasives in Native cultures, and teach you to transform plants like kudzu and wisteria into beautiful freeform baskets.
Mycelial Magic: Fine tuning your expertise in mushroom cultivation
Tradd Cotter (MORNING)
Already growing mushrooms? Need a boost in skill sets and ideas to catapult your home or small-scale operation? Learn a few tricks and methods that will bring your expertise to a higher level and add exciting new species to your list of edible and medicinal mushroom adventures!
Restoring the Soil Food Web: Compost and compost teas
Troy Hinke (AFTERNOON)
This workshop will cover the foundations of the soil food web to introduce participants to the life in the soil and how it works with plants to provide nourishment. The class will also cover brewing, making, and using high-biology compost, compost teas, and compost extracts.
Seed Saving: Preserving genetic diversity, community culture, and your bottom line
Ira Wallace (MORNING)
Seed preservation is foundational to sustainable food production. Learn about the importance of seed saving and production, as well as considerations for your bottom line. We will discuss the work of Ujamaa Collective fighting against consolidation in the seed industry and the loss of genetic diversity and knowledge.
Build it, Plumb it, Hack it: The Basics of Fix, Mend, and Make for Farm and Home
Keenan Phillips with Christian Nolan, Dan Hettinger, and Richard Freudenberger
The basic knowledge and skills of maintaining, fixing, and building things on the farm and homestead are essential in moving towards self-sufficiency and community resilience. Join GC Keenan Phillips of the Asheville Tool Library for a hands-on day of learning about tools and skills commonly used on the farm and homestead! The workshop will include basic information on tools and safety and focus on everyday water carrying, electricity, and construction. Come ready to work with your hands!
Carbon Farming and Agroforestry
Mari Stuart, Meredith Leigh, and Sharon Dubuc
Optimize your land’s carbon storage potential while growing trees for fruit and nuts, timber, beautification, and biodiversity! In this one-day intensive workshop, our instructors will guide participants by applying “carbon farming” principles to their farms and projects. Our focus will be on agroforestry or the intentional integration of trees and shrubs in farm systems.
Mushrooms, Molds, and Mycorrhizae: A Fungal Immersion Experience
Join Tradd Cotter, author, and co-founder of Mushroom Mountain, for an exclusive all-day immersion in Kingdom Fungi! This workshop is perfect for beginners and experienced alike to ignite, fan the flame, and expand your understanding of mushrooms and the roles of other fungi in agriculture, medicine, and beyond. Topics and hands-on activities will include mushroom hunting basics, outdoor mushroom cultivation, medicinal mushrooms, recycling and composting with fungi, myceliated building materials, and discussions about current psilocybin therapy. Don’t miss this chance to bring out that curiosity or passion you share for mushrooms and join us on this journey.
Water Resilience and Mitigation: Practical Adaptations for Farm and Home
John Henry Nelson
In an age of climate change with water scarcity or flooding, it is crucial to design and build water resiliency on your land. Learn how to work with water on your homestead or farm. Whether you need to mitigate an overabundance of water or collect and store it for ecosystems and food production, this workshop will help you get creative with your approach!
Questions about the program or interested in speaking at a future conference? Email Avi Li, Conference Coordinator at email@example.com.