How to Register for the Organic Growers School
This is one of my favorite things all year… and only 2 days left for early bird registration! Prices go up a little after February 12th at 5:00pm.
If you live in any convenient distance from the University of North Carolina at Asheville you have to go to give this a try! I make the annual (carpooling) pilgrimage in order to choose from their generous helping of high quality courses. It really is an amazing deal — over 60 classes to choose from for only $40 a day!
There is also a kid’s program (ages 7 – 12) for $30 per day.
Though I have taken the odd dud, the majority of courses I’ve attended were exemplary. I just can’t say enough good things about it. Whether you are a complete novice or a seasoned veteran there is something tailored to you.You also don’t have to be a gardener, many of the courses are geared towards non-growers. You can learn about small scale wind energy, cleaning with green products, canning/preserving, cooking, livestock, or using Chinese medicinal herbs. You can also narrow down your growing info to ornamentals, edibles, or even beer brewing.
Classes are broken down into time slots and the majority of them are for 1 & 1/2 hour intervals. Some of them are half or full day courses. The worst part is narrowing down your selection to only 4 (or less) classes per day. For example, from 9am til 10:30am I can learn:
1A: Farming Together: Developing Agreement in Farm Transfer
1B: Starting Your First Vegetable Garden
1C: Soil Ecology 101
1G: Disease Prevention: The Key to Organic Poultry Health Management
1F: Update on the State of Food Safety
1E: Improving Home Performance in Comfort, Health, Safety & Efficiency
1D: Raising Backyard Poultry
1M: Hawthorn Ecology & Utility
1L: Making Maple Syrup in the South
1K: Green Cleaning Solutions
1J: Sculpting and Weaving Plants: the Fine Art of Biotechture
1I: Making Chutneys, Relishes, and Jams
1H: Shiitake Mushrooms and Beyond
1N: Ayurvedic Cooking Foundations
(The classes in the 11:00am – 12:30pm, 2:00pm – 3:30pm, and 4:00pm – 5:30pm blocks are just as tempting)
If I just can’t choose between two classes in the first block (let’s say “Shiitake Mushrooms & Beyond” or “Making Maple Syrup in the South”) I can go on both Saturday AND Sunday and take them both. With a few marked exceptions, the course schedule is the same for both days.
When you register you’ll be asked to name which courses you are most likely to attend. This doesn’t guarantee you a slot in the class (so don’t dally to get to your next venue) but it does give the organizers an idea of which topics are going to need the largest classrooms.
This year I’m bringing my own lunch to save money but I also recommend the OGS food. The past few years they’ve served a completely tempting locally grown buffet (with plenty of vegetarian or vegan options if you need them). You may want to check out the vendors area and the optional seed exchange that takes place, too.
Finally, there is an online library of the awesome handouts provided by many of the lecturers. Much of the info provided is personal and localized and therefore unlikely to be found in books.
Have you been to the OGS? I’d love to hear about your experiences. If not, I hope you are able to give it a try this year!