This week we’re celebrating the success stories of Farm Beginning graduates, OGS Staff and Board members. These hardworking, passionate individuals all show up in various ways to the farming and gardening world. It goes to show we all have different visions when it comes to accomplishing our farm dreams, and there are many ways in getting there.


Olivia Ramon of Soil Shine Farm & Ferments

Meet our Farm Beginnings Alumni, Olivia Ramos from Soil Shine Farm & Ferments. Olivia was a student in our 12-Month, Farmer-Led Training Program in 2017.

Farm Beginnings helped me clarify and crystallize my farming vision and enterprises. When the opportunity arose, I was ready to begin my value-added farm-to-ferment business quickly and effectively because of all the groundwork I had laid in Farm Beginnings. I gained so much insight from the coursework, field trips, and mentorship. I love that Organic Growers School uses a Holistic Management framework to teach about farming, and I use those tools all the time in my other projects. The Holistic Management framework helps me stay grounded and focused on the big picture as I develop my business.”



Nicole and Gaelan of Green Toe Ground

Nicole Delcogliano is the Director of Programs and Human Resources at OGS. Nicole teaches the year long Farm Beginnings program to new and beginning farmers. She and her husband have been farming at Green Toe Ground Farm in Yancey County since 2001.

“Hard to believe that 20 years can pass so fast, yet hold so much. Green Toe Ground’s beginning seems like yesterday, when we were toiling behind our old BCS tiller, starry eyed and swearing NEVER to own a tractor. HA! Even though we ride atop our tractor now, we still have stars in our eyes. Neither floods, freezes, bloody knuckles, disease, animal deaths or equipment breakdown and subsequent farm hacking can take the hope and desire to survive from us NO matter what. To continue to farm, day in and day out, with love and humor no less. Sure we have grayer hair, thicker skins, more scars and two grown daughters, but we’ve earned every strand of gray.

The practice of growing food each year, season to season, is such a rich rhythm and one that we feel lucky to do. We got started when we were in New York. Gaelan was running the farm at @philliebridge farm project. We moved to WNC in 1998 to work at @arthurmorgan School and that was when we got embedded into the WNC farming community.

We’ve always valued quality of life over striving for more money and it has allowed our farm to mature like a fine pile of compost, rich with mycelium strands connecting to a broad community. We recognize the privileges we hold as white farmers owning land and thrive on forging deeper and broader ties with our community and neighbors. Being farmers is not all we are, but it allows us to be engaged and hopeful in standing for and doing what we believe in, on and off farm. It is humbling to work with the earth each and every day and we cherish every moment, good and hard. 

We love this supportive farming community. Folks are always willing to help, support and share info to make all of us more successful. We hope the next 20 years continue to be fertile on and off farm and that we see more justice, representation, fairness and equity on farms and that farms thrive and prosper.”



 Cathy Cleary- OGS Board Member and  Outreach Coordinator at Bountiful Cities

Cathy shares her love of cover crops, especially the edible ones like peas, which fix nitrogen in the soil and the tender shoots make a delicious snack!

“I just want to talk about cover-cropping for a minute, and how learning about cover cropping from an amazing cowboy-hat wearing presenter at OGS spring conference changed my life… and I’m not exaggerating. The presenter, Russell Hedrick, had a slide show with before and after photos of cover-cropped soil. The before pictures looked like parts of my garden – hard packed, light grey dirt. The after pictures were almost fluffy looking, dark brown soil.

They had all kinds of statistics and data to back up the claim that cover-cropping makes sense. I was sold, and I still am. I love planting my winter peas, rye, and oats in the fall. I especially love the early spring when I get to start eating some tender sweet pea shoots. My soil is totally different now too. Veggies are hearty and vigorous with less pest action.

Last year I harvested 6 bushels of sweet potatoes out of this plot in my front yard, and I’m pretty sure the winter peas had something to do with it. I always learn something from OGS spring conference, and sometimes it changes my life. I’ll save my vermiculture story for another time…”



Author: Julie Douglas

Julie is the Marketing & Communications Associate. She is the owner and Clinical herbalist at Wildkrafted Kitchen, a holistic healthcare company in Asheville, NC. Julie is a medicinal herb grower, ethical wildcrafter, educator, and formulator of internal and external medicines. After graduating with an AA focusing on Photography and Ceramic art, Julie went on to pursue their passion for sustainable small-scale agriculture in Washington state where she apprenticed on various organic farms. After discovering their affinity for medicinal herbs, they moved to Asheville to study Holistic Herbalism at the Blue Ridge School of Herbal Medicine. Julie’s main goals are to make alternative healthcare accessible to marginalized communities, decolonizing herbal medicine, and be part of mutual aid networks which strengthen and empower the community.