By Calie Brummer
From Friday, March 9, through Sunday, March 11, the Organic Growers School will celebrate 25 years of education during the annual Spring Conference at UNC Asheville. The three-day conference includes regionspecific workshops in 17 themed tracks, covering topics such as farming, permaculture, sustainable living, forestry, cooking, soils, herbs, livestock, mushrooms, poultry, earth skills and community food. Three pre-conference workshops, with special guest instructors, will take place on Friday. (See below).
The Spring Conference offers more than 150 classes, with 90-minute sessions and half-day workshops. “This year’s curriculum not only addresses organic growing and eating but it also addresses the big-picture issues the farming and gardening community faces,” says Sera Deva, conference curriculum coordinator. “We want to encourage attendees to think critically, not only about sustainable practices but also about how they’re contributing to the food system as a whole.”
Along with workshops on Saturday and Sunday, guests can attend a trade show, a seed exchange and a Saturday social. Exhibitors from local farms and merchants who specialize in organic products, books and gardening supplies will be present. The annual seed and plant exchange—where attendees can bring excess seeds to share, barter or trade—also takes place during the trade show.
“For 25 years, we’ve been proud to present a curriculum that is relevant to the developing needs and interests of growers at all experience levels,” says Deva. “The classes we’re offering are as diverse as our mountain region, and for our 25th birthday we’re really celebrating the wealth of knowledge that has sprung from our diverse community of farmers, gardeners and supporting organizations.”
The Organic Growers School is a nonprofit organization with a mission to educate growers and support organic living while remaining affordable and accessible to people in all walks of life. This year’s conference will be an inspiring learning experience celebrating local farming and stewardship.
The event is the largest locally-run conference in the Southeast, with a keen focus on regionally specific methods of sustainable farming and growing. Attendees travel from 17 states and Canada to attend the conference, which is often considered the commencement of the growing season. Around 100 guests attended the first conference in 1993, and today the conference draws more than 2,500 attendees, exhibitors and speakers and is regionally recognized as a gathering place for those passionate about sustainable living.
UNC Asheville is located at 1 University Heights in Asheville. Parking is $5 for the weekend. Prices for the Friday pre-conference workshops are $55 with conference registration (Saturday, Sunday or both) and $70 without. Saturday and Sunday prices are $129 for both days, with single day tickets available. Visit organicgrowersschool.org.