Pre-conference Workshops

Finding, Buying, & Loving the Land— Site Assessment & Land Design for Farmers, Homesteaders, and Land Seekers

Finding, Buying, & Loving the Land— Site Assessment & Land Design for Farmers, Homesteaders, and Land Seekers

Peter Bane

How do you read the potential of a piece of property? Learn what the realtors, developers, and sellers won’t tell you. In this all-day workshop, we will develop land literacy through a permaculture lens, learning a sophisticated set of tools for assessment and design. Invaluable whether you are planning to you buy land or want to assess and learn how to work land you already own. We come at this from three directions:

Where: Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center, 455 Research Drive, Mills River, NC 28759.

When: Friday, March 8, 2019, 9:30–4:30

Cost: $55 with Saturday and/or Sunday conference registration, $70 without

More about Peter's workshop

  • Finding the Land: What’s valuable now and over the long-term? What factors are immutable and what can you change, and with how much effort? What’s on the site and what’s not but still matters? We’ll look at slope, aspect, sun, altitude, climate (rain, temps, wind, frost dates, microclimates), tree cover and other vegetation, wildlife, water, market value, location, road access, neighbors, ease of development, soil, and structures.  
  • Buying the Land: How much land do you need and how much can you actually manage? What things are important to know and what’s hidden in land contracts? We’ll discuss your highest intentions for the land and your financial situation, ownership options such as fee simple or collective title, and development potential. We will explore other creative land access choices including leasing and sharing, and the steps in buying.
  • Loving Your Land: What are the observation skills you must have as you approach and learn to live on your land? We will discuss how to engage with what you find while moving toward your goals. No matter how well you evaluate land in advance of purchase, some things can only be discerned after you spend time working on the site. Specifically you’ll learn to create a list of priorities, discern existing patterns and set others that will help you live and work harmoniously, decide on housing options and temporary structures, make the most efficient steps first, and discover the must-start soil fertility and forest management strategies for getting earliest returns.

Stewarding land is like a marriage: there is only so much you will be able to change about your land partner. It will have its own values and ideas! Learn the myriad considerations that go into meeting your land-based goals. As we move towards regenerative management, this skillset is the foundation of all our future endeavors.

Year Round Growing on Farm & Garden

Year Round Growing on Farm & Garden

Pam Dawling & Ira Wallace

Join experienced vegetable, herb, and seed growers Pam Dawling & Ira Wallace for a step-by-step approach to growing year-round. Learn the tools to manage space effectively, grow the quantities of crops when you want them, and efficiently meet your growing goals. The workshop will cover:

Where: Creekside Farms Education Center, 339 Avery Creek Road, Arden, NC 28704

When: Friday, March 8, 2019, 9:30 to 4:30

Cost: $55 with Saturday and/or Sunday conference registration, $70 without

More about Ira & Pam's workshop

  • Defining your Market: Are you growing for yourself or for others? When and how much do you need to harvest? Learn about yields of common crops and begin to create a growing plan.
  • Season Extension: From transplants and row cover in the spring, to hoop houses in the winter, learn to keep crops alive through the seasons. Calculate the last worthwhile planting date in your area, and choose a suitable combination of warm weather crops, cool weather crops, storage crops and cold-hardy crops appropriate for your scale.
  • Temperature Resilience: Discover tips to deal with extreme hot and cold temperature ranges including getting seeds germinated, identifying crops that do well in both extremes, and the importance of crop diversification. Climate change necessitates adaptive growing practices. We will incorporate soil building and water management, as well as the importance of seed saving and variety trials.
  • Crop Rotation: Keep roots in the ground at all times! Learn the art of crop rotation using planting calendars, observation, and garden planning. Discover relay planting, cover cropping, isolation distances, plants to attract pollinators, as well as tricks for fitting minor crops into available spaces.
Integrated Animal Agriculture—Incorporating Livestock into your Farm & Homestead

Integrated Animal Agriculture—Incorporating Livestock into your Farm & Homestead

Meredith Leigh

Two of the drastic results, over the last 50 years, of taking the animals off the farm are confinement animal feeding operations (CAFO’s) and massive use of chemical fertilizer (for plants), both of which produce environmental disasters and unsatisfactory conditions for all involved. Livestock production was historically integrated on the same farms that grew vegetable crops. These elegant systems provided a closed loop for animal, plant, and human nutrients that cannot be replicated in any other way.

Where: Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy’s Incubator Farm Education Center, 180 Mag Sluder Road, Alexander NC 28701.

When: Friday, March 8, 2019, 9:30 to 4:30

Cost: $55 with Saturday and/or Sunday conference registration, $70 without

More about Meredith's workshop

The solution to environmental and economic disasters? Bring the animals back to the farm and homestead! Join author, farmer, butcher, and activist Meredith Leigh and learn to re-integrate plant and animal agriculture, on the homestead or the commercial farm. The day-long workshop consists of these components:

  • Designing your Integrated System: Discover pastured animal systems including rotational grazing, silvopasture and others; animals and breeds to choose for health, vitality, and smooth integration into your current system; rising consumer demand for grass-fed animal products; and other production techniques and tips.
  • Building Soil: As farmers we are primarily soil builders. Learn to  assess the many tools we have for remineralizing soil, from no-till to compost teas to animal impact. All while keeping in mind how to keep the balance of saving our backs and our bank accounts.
  • Tools & Skills: Walk away with tools for managing land with animals using systems thinking and practical information about cutting edge production techniques. Most importantly, growers will be provided with support and tools to juggle the real world implications, and power, of raising both plants and animals in a world that needs them now more than ever.  

Integration of animals not only supports the production of local, healthy, humane, and grass fed meats and milk but also promotes healthy soil and better nutrient cycling at every stage of the growing life cycle, including human nutrition. Get started with animals now!

Water and Agriculture—Critical Consciousness for Healing the Planet

Water and Agriculture—Critical Consciousness for Healing the Planet

John & Jonathan Todd

The availability, quality, and integration of water in food production is an overlooked yet central feature of food systems. Leaders in the work of water interfaces are John Todd and his son Jonathan, who combine cutting edge research with dynamic design to restore waterways all over the world as functional, living components of natural and built environments. In this full day, immersive class, witness them at work as they consider a farm pond as a case study.

Where: Living Web Farms, 176 Kimzey Rd, Mills River, NC 28759

When: Friday, March 8, 2019, 9:30 to 4:30

Cost: $55 with Saturday and/or Sunday conference registration, $70 without

More about the Todd's workshop

In the morning portion of the workshop, participants will learn the personality of water features, from chemistry to plant and animal life, and the meaning of their interactions. In the afternoon, the Todds will take years of experience and deep scientific knowledge to develop a design plan that takes advantage of the farm’s pond, while also caring for its well being. Participants will learn the application of methods the Todd’s have used worldwide – from rehabilitating city sewage treatment to creating resiliency on entire islands – living machines, polycultures, restorative riparian and aquatic native plants, beneficial fungi, and animal life. This full day workshop offers a unique opportunity to sit with both the hope and the complexity of the future facing our planet, and walk away with tangible examples for healing ecosystems, either at the farm scale, or much larger.