By Calie Brummer
On Saturday, November 10, and Sunday, November 11, Craig Alan Siska of Siska Design and the Alan Chadwick Archive Project will present a two-day workshop covering the Biodynamic-French Intensive Approach to horticulture and the garden. The workshop, hosted by Living Web Farms, begins Saturday from 1:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., and continues on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Siska apprenticed with Chadwick from 1978-1979 and curated an online archive with recordings and biographical information to honor and preserve Chadwick’s legacy. His workshop focuses on the history of the Biodynamic- French Intensive Approach and sheds light on principles established by Chadwick, ranging from garden design and layout to seed sowing and transplanting.
“Craig Alan Siska is deeply thoughtful and spiritual and is an experienced grower and visionary,” says Meredith Leigh, education and outreach coordinator at Living Web Farms. “The insight he brings to the act of gardening, in addition to his wisdom of technique, is invaluable to the food movement and to the healing of land. For these reasons, we are incredibly excited to have Craig’s voice and legacy as part of the Living Web Farms educational archive.”
Throughout the weekend, Siska will share insights on this spiritual approach to horticulture and the garden, focusing on garden design and layout, raised bed and pathway construction, cold composting, planting in relays (season extension), glasshouse and frame work, cover crops, green manuring and biodynamic preparations. Guests will also learn about key under-utilized plants of the Appalachian eco-region, varietal disintegration and new approaches in horticulture through vibrational science.
Siska’s work reflects the vision and legacy of Chadwick, whose influence can be seen in gardens across North America. Chadwick designed beautiful garden landscapes during his career, and was a leading innovator of techniques such as the Biodynamic-French Intensive Approach. He also led the movement that pioneered organic gardening and farming in America. Chadwick was an esteemed teacher, honored for his bright personality and wisdom, and many of his students went on to teach and carry out his legacy across the country.
One of Chadwick’s later projects brought him to Hendersonville in 1977, where he met with Mother Earth News to see if a site on the magazine’s property was a good fit for his upcoming garden project. This visit eventually led him to the Shenandoah Valley site of Carmel in the Valley, near New Market, Virginia, where four to five acres of land were cultivated by Chadwick and his apprentices, who came from across the country to support the project. Plans were drawn for a garden village that never materialized, but the abundant beauty of the site remained.
During his time in Virginia, Chadwick gave memorable lectures to his apprentices and held a conference featuring speakers like Buckminster Fuller and Paul Solomon, the head of the Fellowship of the Inner Light, a spiritual group from Virginia.
The Biodynamic-French Intensive Approach workshop aims to share Chadwick’s wisdom and legacy, focusing on fundamental aspects of his horticultural work that attendees can carry into their own garden practices. Backyard gardeners, small landholders, CSA growers and garden enthusiasts alike are welcome to participate in this immersive and educational experience.
Living Web Farms is located at 176 Kimzey Road in Mills River. For workshop schedules, visit LivingWebFarms.org. To learn more about Chadwick’s work, visit ChadwickArchive.org