Workshop Descriptions

28th Annual Spring Conference // March 13-21, 2021

Workshop Descriptions By Track

Click on a Track to see descriptions for the 3 workshops in that track.


Growing Food, People and Community
Rashid Nuri

The current paradigm of commercial agriculture is not sustainable and is detrimental to both humans and the planet. K. Rashid Nuri will demonstrate the power of small farms and urban agriculture to improve the future of the world’s food production, improve health outcomes, and build strong communities. Today’s conversations about equity, justice, and diversity are imperative. Equally as important is to remember that he who controls your food controls you. In the move toward nation-building, we must maintain focus on food security and food self sufficiency. To be truly free, a nation has to be able to feed its people. And it is imperative to feed the nation food that builds strong minds and bodies.


Pollinators for our Future: The Future Flies on the Wings of Pollinators
Samantha Foxx

Pollinators are responsible for at least 1 in every 3 bites of food that we eat. Over 90% of different varieties of fruits and essential crops depend on pollinators for reproduction. Learn from Samantha Foxx, farmer, mother and beekeeper about the intersection of community and pollinator health and the lessons pollinators teach about stewardship, community and survival. How are we spreading our wings to pollinate our own backyards, each other, and the world around us to help have a more secure future?


The Organic Question: Agrarian Transitions & the Future of Family Farming
Eric Holt Giménez

The co-option of the USDA organic standards by the corporate food system is a key development in an historical agrarian struggle between family farmers and capitalist agriculture. Between the assault on standards, the climate crisis, and the present pandemic, the organic movement finds itself at an existential crossroads, both for organic farming and family farmers. What is to be done?

Cherokee Food

Gathering Wisdom & Sustenance from the Appalachians
Amy Walker, Mary Crowe, Charles E. Taylor & Tyson Sampson

In this track, we’ll dive deep into language, culture, and tradition of native Cherokee foods of the Appalachians with three generations of stories and experience. Learn about the endemic plants, mushrooms, and animals that provide us with sustenance and nourishment. This is an excerpt of the footage of the livestream event that was produced by OGS for the 2020 Harvest Conference.


Meat On The Side: De-centering Meat as an Omnivore
Meredith Leigh

This session focuses on de-centering meat in an omnivorous diet. Tips for cooking and preservation will be shared that help eaters adjust portion size, boost flavor, and conserve resources. Learn lesser-known muscles, get more comfortable with offal, and learn fermentation tips to produce highly flavorful meat products that can revolutionize your palette and your plate.


Non-Alcoholic Fermented Beverages
Marissa Percoco

Learn the art of making amazing fermented beverages that nourish the body and uplift the soul… without inebriating the spirit! We will explore tonics, water kefir, jun, kombucha and more, plus fun variations of ingredients and beverages from different cultures around the world. Learn how to turn your kitchen into a magical elixir creation station!


Rainbow Salad: Medicine for the Mind & Body
Seher Seven

The rainbow salad is an all-inclusive meal made to not only nourish our bodies, but our minds and hearts as well. Learn how to make and use a rainbow salad in every meal, with creative and delicious plant-based recipes that taste as good as they make you feel.


Farm Tools & Ergonomics: Selecting and Using Tools Efficiently
Josh Volk

Ergonomics is efficiency and efficiency is important on the farm. We’ll go through some of the basics of ergonomics and then look at examples of tools, systems and workspace setups on actual small farms that put these principles into action and have proven to be effective. Many of these are low cost, easy to implement and the principles are universal.


Finding Farm Flexibility: Adapting Your Business During A Pandemic
Jason Roland

The past year has created rapid shift in how farms operate and generate profits. When the pandemic hit the restaurants and farmers markets, many farmers had to completely change how they did business in order to survive. In this session, we’ll examine how to adapt your business model to fit the needs of your community and still make a profit.


Forest Farming: Growing Native Medicinal Herbs
Jeanine Davis

There is a growing demand for native woodland medicinal herbs such as ginseng, goldenseal, and black cohosh. Opportunities range from running a nursery selling planting stock to forest farmers, to providing raw material to herbalists/manufacturers, to creating value-added products. We’ll cover how to grow and sell native medicinal herbs.

Food Systems

Discover Your Local Foodshed
Mari Stuart

Would you like to eat a more local diet? Learn strategies for shifting more of your food consumption to your local foodshed. Discover practical resources and tips for sourcing local foods, traditional and innovative foodways in Southern Appalachia, and opportunities to make local eating accessible to everyone.


Fitting Into The Food System
Georie Bryant

Explore the food system’s relationship to agriculture and society by examining the history of the US food system, with a particular interest in it’s treatment of the environment, black and indigenous peoples, and small farmers. We will address the issues and concerns that characterize the contemporary food system and speculate on some ways to approach the subject of ethical farm and food practice.


Local Food Impact: Supporting Markets & Community Food Strategies
April Jones

Learn how to create a local food market and strategies to bring community together with food. Take steps to maintain and expand your local food system, and expand local food knowledge in your community.


Gardening for Resilience
Ta’rin’ii Shanai

This class is offering women a reminder of their inner resilience, strength and fertile potential to restore and heal the land in their greater communities. We will discuss the importance of collaboration vs. competition and the potential to produce cooperative land based projects. We will also review some resilient, multi-usage plants, wild herbs or trees that are vital to have in your southern Appalachian garden!


Gardening Victoriously: Raised Beds & Greenhouses
Derek Haynes

“Victory Garden,” a term coined by George Washington Carver, references the gardens, grown in yards and parks, that provided food security to nearly 20 million people during World War II. In this era, we can cultivate a resurgence of community, resilience, and joy by growing our own victory gardens! This workshop will have a focus on raised beds, seed propagation, and greenhouse management.


The Seed Garden: Planning for Seed Saving & Lots of Vegetables
Pam Dawling & Ira Wallace

Double your harvest by planting seed plants alongside your vegetable garden. Learn to choose seed crops for intercroppping and easy growing. Explore selecting and marking plants for variety improvement. Learn about growing undercover and outdoors. Feel confident processing your seed for storage and testing for germination.


Herbs for Oral Health: An Exploration Into the Oral Microbiome
Amy Wright & Eileen Brantley

Take a deep dive into the oral microbiome, how it affects the rest of the body, and a few small things we can do day to day to greatly improve our health. Learn about oral herbal allies and myths we’ve believed our whole lives.


Seed to Sip: Building a Boutique Herb Business
Cee Stanley

This session will focus on how to scale your herb business, from growing small scale to expanding into a full operation. Farmer Cee will show attendees how she went from growing in grow tents in her garage to scaling to her small farm by creating and building a boutique brand with a loyal customer base.


Botanical Skincare
Noelle Joy

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.


Grazing Beef Cattle
Eddy Labus

Explore rotational grazing with beef cattle and the role it plays in weed control. We will discuss the establishment of new forage species and regeneration of pasture through livestock management.


Makin’ The Bacon: Profitable Pig Enterprise
“Pork” Rhyne Cureton

Although pork is the most widely consumed meat around the world, being able to capitalize on markets and customers can still be a headache! In this session, we will discuss how to develop a profitable pig enterprise through proper market evaluation, understanding costs of production, record keeping, scaling production, and farming with a cooperative spirit!


Shepherding in the Mountains: Raising Small Ruminants
Sharon Dubuc & Eddy Labus

Producer Sharon Dubuc discusses sheep production for meat and wool in an interview with OGS, including grazing, fencing, watering, and health management. Learn about local production and incorporating sheep in agritourism and farm stays. Extension agent Eddy Labus follows up with an emphasis on rotational grazing and slow growth for optimum flavor and size. Learn about small-ruminant grazing management practices and how they can be used for an effective parasite management program.


Mushroom Cultivation for Everyone: Techniques Anyone Can Use to Grow Mushrooms
Tradd Cotter

Never grown mushrooms? Experienced but looking for some tips to elevate your operation? This class inspires all on the skill and art of growing mushrooms. Explore the best and easiest techniques for growing many common and medicinal mushrooms at home or on your farm.


Mushroom ID & Foraging Practices
Rachel Zoller

Take a thorough look at the mushroom identification process as well as the basics of mushroom foraging. We will discuss the anatomy of a mushroom, what tools are needed for foraging, how to pick a proper field guide and best foraging practices. This is a beginner friendly course.


A Foray into Mushroom Extraction
William Padilla-Brown

We know that fungi produce compounds that are powerful healers for our minds, bodies, and ecosystems. But how can we efficiently extract these compounds and make them available to our immune systems? Come learn more about mushroom extracts, with a little bonus on sterile technique for your fungal operation.


Basics of Permaculture Design
Anna Timmerman

Walk through the steps of designing for a permaculture-minded landscape. At the end of this class, students will have an understanding of the key elements required to create an effective blueprint for their own edible and ecological paradise.


Permaculture Principles: Beginning Cultivation
Nikita Mattingly

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 not only to the agriculture, but also community and interpersonal relationships.


Regenerative Landscapes: 3 Pillars of Sustainability
Brandy Hall

By utilizing the 3 Pillars of a Regenerative Landscape, we can build health from the ground up. Every garden can contribute to protecting biodiversity; growing food, medicine, and pollinator habitats; building soil, and restoring the water cycle. Your land, no matter the size, can have a positive impact.


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.


Restoring the Life in Our Soils
Quinn Metoyer

Discover the benefits of composting and the importance of restoring microbial life back into our soils. Viewers will be guided on how to construct a vermicompost system with materials in your backyard, how to construct a thermal composting system for larger operations, and ways we can redirect our waste from the landfill.


A Grower’s Guide to Soil Test Interpretation
Richard Boylan

This workshop will cover the when, where, and how of taking soil samples, and then guide growers through the results, using tests you can perform at home, the NCDA Agronomic Lab, and Midwest Labs soil tests and results as examples. The workshop will conclude with an overview of building appropriate fertility via cover crops and organic soil amendments as possible inputs

Sustainable Living

DIY Solar Power
Keenan Phillips

Introduction to solar powered systems on a small scale. Learn about siting, planning, designing, components, energy storage methods, construction, and more! Get some hands-on experience with tools to help you create your own power system.


Seed Selection & Crop Diversity for a Changing Climate
Chris Smith

Dig into the reasons and opportunities for exploring and expanding variety and crop diversity on your farm (or in your garden). We’ll cover basic variety trials, seed selection for variety improvement, and some of the experimental crops from the Utopian Seed Project. All of these activities can help build climate resilient food systems, as well as offering unique stories for any food enthusiast.


Super Organism: Observing Inside the Beehive
Oxx Simeina

This presentation examines the social behavior of honeybees inside if the hive and why they are considered a super organism. We will explore their behaviors, the diverse ecosystem of the beehive and the synergistic relationships within the hive. We’ll also learn about the life cycles and hygiene of honeybees.

Questions about the program or interested in speaking at a future conference? Email Rodney Bowling, Director of Administration at

Track Workshops & Live Panels Schedule