Attending the 2012 Organic Growers School

This past weekend Eliza and I spent two days up in Asheville attending the 2012 Organic Growers School‘s spring conference.  This was my third year attending the event and I think I can safely say that this year was my favorite so far.  The conference and classes are always fantastic, but this year just seemed to have some real gold (only one of the eight classes we took was kind of a let down, and that was more because it was less of a topic of our interest than because it was a poor class).

The Organic Growers School offers a wonderful opportunity to learn a ton about growing foods, cooking, raising animals, preserving harvests, and native folk crafts.  It is wonderful to be surrounded for two days by a ton of like-minded folks with similar passions, amazing ideas, and all around good attitudes.  Sure the weather is always a bit chill (seemed excessively so after having had 70 degree weather here in Greenville the week before) but the vast wealth of knowledge makes it so that you hardly notice that it is starting to spit snow.

Part of the fun this year was getting to see our friends Tradd (from Mushroom Mountain) and Shawn (from the Clemson Student Organic Farm) give back to back presentations on their topics of interest (mushroom cultivation and organic permaculture respectively).  While we’ve seen both Tradd and Shawn give presentations before, the two of them do so much and know such detailed information that we learn something new and fascinating every time we see them.

We greatly enjoyed learning in other classes about such a wide variety of topics as advanced beekeeping, how to preserve wild harvests, how to use permaculture to achieve personal nutrition needs, and how to make homemade sauerkraut (something of which I plan on doing this evening).  By far the real gem of the two days was learning about humanure (aka composted human poop) through revival style song and dance (honestly, I think I was almost over-saturated with poop jokes and puns, and as somebody who enjoys that kind of humor, that says a lot).  All around it is amazing.

What I think is best about the Organic Growers School though, is just how inspirational it all is.  Every year I have gone I have walked out of the place with a great handful of things to try to start incorporating into my lifestyle.  Some of what we learned is pretty easy and practical and we’ll start applying them right away (making sauerkraut, the beekeeping stuff, getting some more oyster and shiitake mushrooms growing).  Other things might take a bit more work but will be achieved over time (primarily the wild foraging and more of the on-site permaculture practices).  And then others might still be a long ways off (owning our own farm – due primarily to financial reasons – and composting shit – due mostly to municipality legality).  All and all though, we walked out of every class thinking “we can do this!”

The timing is perfect too.  We’ve already begun doing a lot in our yard.  We have a good bit of spring veggies planted (though a damn rabbit is eating them all . . . we’ve got a trap and depending on the damage it cause before capture, it might provide a meal itself).  We’ve got almost all our seedlings growing in trays and several larger plants on order.  Last week we built a straw-bale cold-frame (which is awesome and I may write another blog post about it soon).  So a lot is in the works, but there is still more that we want to get done.  We are going to be a site on the Greenville Urban Farm Tour again this year, and are really excited to have stuff looking real nice and attracting big crowds again.  With the Urban Farm Tour ahead of us the Organic Growers School felt like a real good kick-off to the 2012 gardening/farming session.

So if you live in the general Asheville vicinity, and are interested in gardening, farming, foraging, cooking, animal husbandry, etc.  look around for the Organic Growers School next year (I think you can start registering in January.  It is best to register early as it is cheaper).  It is a wonderful event that is very affordable and really just worth every penny and moment.  Check it!

~ by Nathaniel on March 5, 2012.

One Response to “Attending the 2012 Organic Growers School”

  1. […] As I mentioned in yesterday’s post this past week Eliza and I constructed a cold frame out of straw bales.  The reason we chose to do this were several. […]

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