Conservation Sustainability

Organic Growers School Offers Workshops for Home Growers and Homesteaders

Photo by Amelia Fletcher

By Belle Crawford

Organic Growers School (OGS) will host the 4th annual Harvest Conference for backyard gardeners, urban farmers and homesteaders of all skill levels on Friday, September 8, and Saturday, September 9, at Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, NC.

The event focuses on fall and winter growing, food preservation and storage, fermentation, cooking from scratch and sustainability skills. The learning continues on Sunday, September 10, with a Root Crop Production workshop at Living Web Farms in Mills River.

“The Harvest Conference started four years ago in response to much demand over the years for a fall event,” says Lee Warren, OGS executive director. “The fall conference will feature all the great education of our Spring Conference but focus on fall and winter growing, storage and preservation techniques, and other sorts of year-round backyard and homestead topics.”

The first Organic Growers School Spring Conference was held in 1993, with just over 100 participants. Since then, the event has grown exponentially. This year, more than 2,200 farmers, gardeners, educators, students, consumers and chefs gathered from 18 states and Canada, making the OGS Spring Conference the largest grassroots event of its type in the Southeast.

“We know that the industrialization of food and growing leaves the average person out of touch with the basics of food, kitchen and garden literacy,” says Warren. “The loss of ancestral knowledge and of a local food community leaves people disconnected, disempowered and insecure. We’d like to change that and increase the number of people who are successfully growing on a home-scale as well as increase public and community support for home growing.”

Most of the attendees of the Harvest Conference fall in the category of home growers, including anyone with a flowerpot on the window to full-on homesteading operation. This year’s Harvest Conference workshops include Healing with the Five Elements, a class focusing on Chinese medicine and the role of elemental energies in health and disease, as well as classes about wild foods foraging, fall and winter gardening, whole hog butchery and charcuterie, high tunnels for homesteaders, permaculture, processing acorns, truffle farming, mead making, composting and taking care of chickens during the winter months.

“We see home growers as central, dynamic, vital partners in the development of the sustainable food movement,” says Warren. “The Harvest Conference, among other programs, offers an opportunity for folks to get inspired, educated and supported to gain life skills and move towards their own version of self-reliance.”

Tickets to the Harvest Conference are $45 by August 6 and $50 after. Friday all-day workshops are $55 by August 6 and $70 after. For more information about OGS, visit

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