Autumn is in the air, and the holidays are at its heels. But that doesn’t mean the gardening days are gone. Just look to the Organic Growers School’s upcoming Harvest Conference at Warren Wilson College, Friday and Saturday, Sept. 8 and 9, with a bonus intensive on Sept. 10. The focus? Fall and winter growing, along with fermentation, cooking and sustainability skills.
A scaled-down, more intimate version of OGS’ popular Spring Conference, this month’s event serves to “help transition us from summer mode to harvesting, preserving and fall/winter planning mode,” says Executive Director Lee Warren. “For folks who are living closely to the land, this transition is important, not only to celebrate but also to skill up. We’re all learning to be more self-reliant, and this event anchors these ideas at this season-changing time of year.”
In other words, spring attendees will still find plenty to learn. The two days of workshops — Friday offers three full-day courses, while Saturday boasts more classes in shorter time slots — are meant to engage all experience levels, including those new to backyard gardening, urban farming and homesteading. What’s more, there’s also wisdom to be gleaned by those who prefer to take a break from hands-on growing these next two seasons.
“Even if folks don’t actively grow in the fall and winter, there’s still so much harvesting, food storage, food production, medicine making and garden planning to be done during the cooler months,” says Warren. She explains, “In our region, garden and fruit harvests can continue right on into the late fall without much effort. Foraging and fermenting can happen any time of year. And year-round growing and animal stewardship, in our temperate climate, can be easy and enjoyable.”
The Friday program features a repeat of a favorite springtime offering, Healing with the Five Elements, taught by Georgia herbalist Patricia Kyritsi Howell, as well as Wild Food Forage Adventure with Asheville’s mushroom man Alan Muskat and Fall & Winter Growing: Yes, You Can! from local gardening guru Diana Schmitt McCall. Saturday includes classes on whole-hog charcuterie, hemp, permaculture, food justice, cool-season chicken care, high tunnels and more. The learning continues Sunday with a Root Crop Production Intensive at Living Web Farms.
“It’s the vision of OGS to create a regional, small-scale, organic food system made up of prosperous farmers, engaged and resourced home growers and conscious eaters, resulting in diversity, resiliency and community,” says Warren. “The goal of the Harvest Conference is to inspire, educate and support people on this journey.”