Workshop Descriptions

29th Annual Spring Conference // March 18-20, 2022

Workshop Descriptions By Track

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

Pre-Conference

Carbon Farming and Agroforestry
Meredith Leigh, Sharon Dubuc, Mari Stuart

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.

Build it, Plumb it, Hack it: The Basics of Fix, Mend, and Make for the Farm and Garden
Keenan Phillips

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!

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!

Mushrooms, Molds, and Mycorrhizae
Tradd Cotter

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.

Half-day Workshops

Herbal Alchemy: Brewing Spring Tonics, Teas, and Meads
Almeta Tulloss

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!  

Beekeeping 101: Honeybees and Their Byproducts
Oxx Simeina

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

Cherokee Heritage, Food Ways, and Ecological Flavors
Tyson Sampson

Coming soon!

Mycelial Magic: Fine Tuning Your Expertise In Mushroom Cultivation
Tradd Cotter

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!

Seed Saving: Preserving Genetic Diversity, Community Culture, and Your Bottom Line
Ira Wallace

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 for consolidation in the seed industry and the loss of genetic diversity and knowledge.

Invasive Vine Basketry
Nancy Basket

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.

Fermenting Garden Abundance: Vegetable Fermentation Techniques From Around the World
Sandor Katz

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.

Restoring the Soil Food Web: Compost and Compost Teas
Troy Hinke

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.

Buggin’ Out: Integrated Pest Management In Organic Systems
Lisa Gonzalez

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.

Cooking

Get Gut Happy!
Shanti Volpe

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!

Global Influences: From West Africa to Western North Carolina
Ramona Young

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.

Fishing 3 Ways: Catching, Filleting, Cooking
Silver Cousler

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.

Plant-Based Cheesemaking: Traditional Techniques
Gwendolyn Hageman

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.

Farming

Growing Your Brand: Propelling your business and society forward
Cee Stanley

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.

Agritourism in WNC: Exploring Opportunities
Ariel Zjip, Franny Tacy

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
Jason Roland

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.

Park Your Tiller: No-till Methods for the Small-scale Grower
Cedar Johnson

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.

Growing Together: Farmer Cooperatives and Collectives (Panel)
Mary Bulan, Shakara Tyler, Sunil Patel

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.

Forest Farming

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.

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.

Cooperative Strategies for Community-Scale Agroforestry
Zev Friedman

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.

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.

Gardening

Fresh Squeezed: Growing Citrus in WNC
Michael Fortune

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
George Brabant

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
Angie Lavezzo

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.

Africa to Appalachia
Ta’rin’ii Shanai 

Herbs

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
Brandon Ruiz

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.

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.

Appalachian Medicinals: Use and Conservation
Marc Williams

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.

Holistic Forestry

Forestry and Land Retention
Alton Perry

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.

Tree Crops for Regenerative Culture in Appalachia
Justin Holt

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.

DIY Firewood
Ian Snider

   

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.

Living on the Land

Fun with Food Preservation
Marc Williams

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.

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.

Making Room for Wildlife on the Homestead
Jeff Gottlieb

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.

Cherokee Foods, Gathering, and Wildcrafting
Mary Crowe

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.

Livestock & Poultry

Praise the Lard: Profitable Pork Production
Rhyne Cureton

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!

Regenerative Farm Health: Monitoring Impact and Outcome
Asher Wright

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.

Silvopasture Basics: Integrating Animals and Forest Systems
Shawn Swartz

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.

Hentopia for Chicken Keepers: DIY Sanity Savers
Frank Hyman

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!

Mushrooms

Introduction to Mushroom Cultivation
Sneha Ganguly

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
Wade Fox

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.

Fungal Food and Medicine
Cornelia Cho

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.

Ethical Mushroom Foraging
Stesha Warren

This session will give participants a foundation in foraging wild mushrooms safely and ethically. We will cover identification, legalities, sustainability, the function of fungi, most common choice species, and more. This class will get participants inspired to explore the fun world of fungi!

Permaculture

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 to agriculture, community, and interpersonal relationships.

Permaculture for Urban Dwellers, Community Gardeners, and Small-Scale Growers
Laura Ruby

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.

Permaculture Design Basics
Anna Cifaldo

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.

Lean Techniques: Reduce Waste On Your Permaculture Farm
Alyson Wade

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.

Soils

Practical Nutrient Management for Successful and Sustainable Production
Elina Snyder

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.

Let’s Get Composting!
Kelly Hollinger

Coming soon!

Soils 101
Mark Dempsey

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.

Waste Not: Urine
Dan Hettinger

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.

Sustainable Living

WOInvasives in Native Culture
Nancy Basket

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
Keenan Phillips

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.

Biofuels 101: Running Your Engine On Waste Oil
Tod Kershaw

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.

Assorted Mix

FBHealthy Crew Dynamics
Noah Poulos

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.

Backyard Carbon Farming
Mari Stuart

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
Amyrose Foll

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.

Know the Laws: Regulation of Small to Midsize Farms
Alexia Kulwiec

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. 

Growing Food Independence
Rob Greenfield

Rob Greenfield embarked on a year-long immersion of growing and foraging 100% of his food to find out. Nature was his garden, his pantry, and his pharmacy. This class will look at taking back power from Big Ag and gaining “food freedom” for yourself and your community.

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

Track Workshops & Live Panels Schedule

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