Organic Growers School to host spring conference next weekend

Published 10:00 pm Friday, March 4, 2016

Registration is open for the Annual Organic Growers School Spring Conference. The conference, for healthy eaters, home growers, and farmers, takes place Saturday and Sunday, March 12 and 13, at UNCA in Asheville, N.C.


Organic Growers School (OGS) will draw over 2,000 gardeners, farmers, and foodies to Asheville for a weekend of workshops. The annual event features classes for beginning backyard growers to advanced commercial farmers, plus a farm to table dinner, trade show, seed exchange, children’s program, and pre-conference events. The OGS Spring Conference is the largest, locally run, sustainability conference in the Southeast. There is a fee for registration.

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The event, which is open to the public, provides practical, regionally-appropriate workshops on organic growing, permaculture, homesteading, urban farming, and rural living.


This year’s conference offers more than 70 sessions per day in themed tracks including gardening, mushrooms, soils, livestock, herbs, permaculture, sustainable forestry, homesteading, cooking, poultry, and farmers beginner to advanced. New tracks for 2016 include Sustainable Living and Voices from the Field. A complete list of the classes can be viewed on the website but a sampling includes: sustainable hemp production, how to diagnose vegetable diseases, how to be a fruit nut, mead making, intuitive plant medicine, urban orcharding, root cellars, mushroom cultivation, sustainable poultry, soils 101, rooftop farming and tiny houses.


Throughout the weekend, there are also half-day, limited space, hands-on workshops that host specialized instructors. These half-day classes focus on do-it-yourself subjects.


This event has grown exponentially, from a small gathering of 100 growing enthusiasts in 1993 to a regionally recognized conference drawing over 2,000 attendees, exhibitors and speakers.


“Our teachers reflect the best our region has to offer, from long time farmers on the cutting edge of biodynamics to renowned herbalists to the very best mushroom experts and thought provoking discussions on community food,” says executive director, Lee Warren.


As the largest grassroots conferences of its kind in the region, The Organic Growers School has served to reinforce Western North Carolina’s role as a regional leader in sustainable food and farming. Attendees come from 18 states and Canada, and have described the event as a ritualistic kick start to the growing season, and even “a peeling off of winter,” according to local attendee, Lara Ladendorf.


The major sponsors of the 23nd Annual Organic Growers School are Carolina Farm Credit, French Broad Food Co-op, Mountain Rose Herbs, Living Web Farms, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, Reems Creek Nursery, Earth Tools, Organic Valley, WNC Woman, Living Web Farms, Mountain Xpress, WNCW, Plough to Pantry, Fedco Seeds, Biltmore, Mother Earth News Fair, Tyme in the Garden, Hendersonville Community Co-op, Chelsea Green Publishing, Lenoir-Rhyne University, Nouris and Flourish, Nature’s Nog, Fedco and IWANNA.


Interested participants may register online at, or request a mailed registration form from or (828) 278-9332. Registration forms are also available at area retail stores and Cooperative Extension offices.


For other inquiries, contact coordinator Sabrina Wells at or call 828-278-9332.


-Submitted by Sabrina Wells