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Pre-Conference Workshop Descriptions & Speaker Bios

Pre-Conference workshops will all take place on Friday, February 24th from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm at various locations in Western North Carolina. You can register for these workshops on our general registration form, linked below.

For the Love of Honey: Beekeeping 101 with Oxx Simeina

Gaia Herbs Farm, 101 Gaia Herbs Drive, Brevard, NC 28712 (map it)

Join Oxx Beekeeping for a deep dive into beekeeping and making bee-based byproducts! Come get a better understanding of the life cycle of bees, different roles in the hive, ecological importance, and how to create a mutually beneficial relationship with these incredible creatures. You will have the opportunity to try on protective beekeeper gear and conduct a mock hive inspection. We will also learn how to utilize hive byproducts to make different natural products for everyday use. Take home your custom-made body butters, lip balms, candles, and more. All methods are natural and pesticide-free. 

Alwyn “Oxx” Simeina, who was born in Saint Lucia, founded Oxx Beekeeping in 2013 in Jacksonville, Florida. Under the mentorship of Alice Shinkos, once the president of the Jacksonville Beekeepers Association, he learned treatment-free beekeeping. He adopted minimum honey-robbing techniques to prevent feeding honey sugar water substitutes for their honey, and these are still the practices used today in his family-operated business. In 2016, Oxx collaborated with dermatologists, cosmetologists, and aestheticians to create his own skincare line based on skin conditions he struggled with growing up. All their products are made with raw and unfiltered honey, beeswax, and other natural, cold-pressed, organic, and non-GMO ingredients.

What to expect in this workshop

Join Oxx Beekeeping for a deep dive into beekeeping and making bee-based byproducts! Come get a better understanding of the life cycle of bees, different roles in the hive, ecological importance, and how to create a mutually beneficial relationship with these incredible creatures. You will have the opportunity to try on protective beekeeper gear and conduct a mock hive inspection. We will also learn how to utilize hive byproducts to make different natural products for everyday use. Take home your custom-made body butters, lip balms, candles, and more. All methods are natural and pesticide-free. 

  • The workshop will start with an overview of honeybees, beekeeping, and the cultural and environmental importance of this practice, including: 
    • Honeybee ecology and life cycle
    • Components of a hive, how the hive works 
    • Byproducts of the hive and how they can be used
  • Hands-on production and uses of hive byproducts
    • Discussion of what goes into making hive-based products 
    • Participants will get a chance to make their own lip balms, body butters, body lotions, candles, and mead (honey wine) that they can take home with them 
  • Hands-on experience with hives 
    • Discussing and trying on protective beekeeping gear
    • Construction of a mock honeybee hive
    • Overview of hive inspection, identification of pests and diseases
    • Discussion of natural approaches to pest management in the hive

 

More about Oxx

Oxx Beekeeping is proud to practice chemical- and pesticide-free beekeeping. Further, due to their minimum honey-robbing approach, they can harvest honey throughout the year. In addition to producing honey and honey-based health and skincare products, Oxx also provides hive removal services. He then rescues the hives by taking them in and integrating them into his apiary at home. He has also begun teaching various workshops on Backyard Beekeeping, Sustainable Beekeeping, Making Honey-based Products, and Understanding the Hive as a Superorganism. You can find the business online, on Facebook, on Instagram, and Twitter.

Cherokee Traditional Ecological Knowledge with Tyson Sampson and Amy Walker

Red Moon Herbs, 26 Davis Chapel Rd, Candler, NC 28715 (map it)

This workshop is an invitation to learn from the original peoples of these lands, who have survived apocalypse. Each of us brings our own stories and perspectives to the land, and this knowledge exchange will encourage you to step into relationship with the land you are on, understanding its present and past and future. These stories will be woven through as we share food, introduce plants, and demonstrate some traditional uses for these plants, including for food, medicine, dye, and communion. 

Tyson is a two-hearted and -spirited individual descended from the local indigenous matriarchy called the ᎠᏂᎩᎶᎯ (A-ni-gi-lo-hi). In multifaceted contributions over 19+ years, they have documented endangered language, held mindful presence, and shared Cherokee wild food practices and cultural sensibilities. Tyson is cultivating an apothecary for ethnobotanical accessibility and a collective to support traditional ecological knowledge for his fellow tribesfolk, the Bigwitch Indian Wisdom Initiative.

Photo courtesy of Mike Bellame.

Amy is a member of the Deer Clan, a great grandmother, and is 80 years old. Her parents, one Cherokee and one South Dakota Sioux, were both herbalists. She grew up eating out of the Appalachian forests; a wildcrafter and a farmer, she focuses her farming on traditional Cherokee food preferences, mostly growing traditional medicine, corn, beans, and squash. She is a retired social worker, and an indigenous traditionalist. Amy is a pipe carrier and a Sundancer in South Dakota.

Photo courtesy of Mike Bellame.

More on this workshop

Ongoing social disruption, ecological collapse, and climate devastation calls for protocols stemming from Traditional Ecological Knowledge, for the knowledge of the people who have been living on this land with no breaks, for time with no limits. How can we move beyond survival strategies to activate the practical, intellectual, and spiritual shifts required of us to meet this moment and come out together in stronger community? This workshop is an invitation to learn from the original peoples of these lands, who have survived apocalypse. Each of us brings our own stories and perspectives to the land, and this knowledge exchange will encourage you to step into relationship with the land you are on, understanding its present and past and future. These stories will be woven through as we share food, introduce plants, and demonstrate some traditional uses for these plants. 

  • Dive into the language, culture, and tradition of native Cherokee foods and plants of the Appalachians
    • Common wildcrafted food plants, their local history and lore, and respectful harvest methods to ensure abundance into the future
    • Learn lessons from greens, such as ramps, sochan, wanagit, and poke; forest mushrooms such as wishi; berries including huckleberries and spicewood; and nuts including black walnuts, chestnuts, and hickory nuts
    • Taste some of the delectable food gifts of these mountains in traditional preparations
  • Experience demonstrations of some of the non-food traditional uses for Appalachian plants, including for medicine and dye.
    • Meet common dyeing plants, such as yellowroot, bloodroot, and hickory nut, and join in on a traditional dye-making practice
    • Learn about some of the healing properties of Appalachian plants and relationships to them
  • Explore the ontologies of the original peoples of this land and examine your own relationship to the Earth and your community through the stories and language of the original peoples of this land.

More about Tyson

Tyson is a two-hearted and two-spirited individual whom has descended from the local indigenous matriarchy called the ᎠᏂᎩᎶᎯ (A-ni-gi-lo-hi). Their home is referred to as The Beautiful Painted Earth. This family is based here in their aboriginal territory most commonly known as the Great Smoky Mountainsides. Tyson has a background in the healing arts and communications. They (he/she) have been of service to connective circles/family for 19+ years. In multi-faceted contributions, they have worked on everything from documenting endangered language,  holding mindful awareness/presence, to sharing wild food practices and cultural sensibilities about Cherokee cuisine. He has contributed to efforts for residents of the Qualla Indian Boundary to have more intimate and legally protective relationships to plants/wild foods in this indigenous bio-region. Currently, Tyson is cultivating an apothecary for ethnobotanical accessibility, called Bigwitch Botanicals. He is also developing a broader collective to support traditional ecological knowledge for his fellow tribesfolk, called the Bigwitch Indian Wisdom Initiative. This project is rooted in Indigenous Ecology and woven throughout our being in the areas of land and water stewardship, agriculture, botanical teachings, bulk room storage, testimonial wisdom and ethical wild harvesting.

More about Amy

Amy Walker is a tribal elder from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Her mother was Cherokee, and her father was Lakota from the Rosebud Reservation. Her father, who prior to attending boarding school was known as Lone Wolf, passed away when Amy was 10 years old. Amy’s mother, who also attended boarding school, raised eight children on her own. Amy’s life has been committed to breaking the cycle of fragmentation from her traditions. She dedicates herself to healing through a daily prayer practice to Creator, as well as ensuring that her children and grandchildren are learning the Cherokee language. Amy is also a strong advocate for nature, and has been an active voice in protecting the rights of endangered bears.

Regenerative Soils: Practices, Indicators, and Measurement with Russell Hedrick

Living Web Farms Grandview Farm, 149 Grandview Lane, Hendersonville, North Carolina, United States (map it)

Healthy soils can serve as a carbon sink, increase the nutrient density of our food, sequester contaminants, and provide so many other benefits to our health and the environment. But how do we build this capacity in our soils and make sure our efforts are generating the results we are working towards? Are you increasing microbial activity, sequestering carbon, increasing nutrient density of your food and many other indicators of regenerative farming practices? This workshop will dive into the elements of managing soils regeneratively, and cover the testing methods and visual indicators of how to measure the heartbeat of healthy soils. 

jason & ami roland

Russell is a first generation farmer in the foothills of Hickory, NC, where he runs JRH Grain Farms, LLC. The farm operates on 800 acres, growing non-GMO corn, non-GMO soybeans, white wheat, black oats, triticale, and barley, and raising pasture cattle, pasture Katahdin sheep, and pasture Berkshire pigs. Russell has become a soil health innovator, farming pioneer and now lectures internationally with regenerative agriculture experts Gabe Brown and Ray Archuleta. He serves as a member of the Catawba County Extension Advisory Board and travel with NRCS as an Earth Team volunteer, speaking about conservation and how to implement those practices on a farming level.

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