ASHEVILLE — The 27th Annual Spring Conference—for farmers, gardeners, homesteaders, and sustainability seekers—is hosted by Organic Growers School (OGS), an Asheville-based non-profit organization. The conference takes place Friday–Sunday, March 6–8, 2020. The weekend event takes place at Mars Hill University in Mars Hill and the pre-conference events are in Buncombe and Henderson Counties.
The Spring Conference offers practical, region-specific workshops on farming, gardening, permaculture, urban growing, and rural living and includes a trade show, a seed exchange, special guest speakers, and a Saturday evening social.
More than 150 classes—both 90-minute sessions and half-day workshops—are offered on Saturday and Sunday in 17 learning tracks:
- Community Food
- Earth Skills
- Farmers: Beginning
- Farmers: Experienced
- Gardening: Beginning
- Gardening: Experienced
- Sustainable Forestry
- Sustainable Living
- Thinking Big
This one-of-a-kind event brings people of all walks of life together for a weekend of learning, inspiration, and networking and features a host of local and regional experts. The mission of the Spring Conference is to provide down-to-earth advice on growing and sustainable living while remaining affordable and accessible. The Spring Conference is the largest locally run sustainability conference in the Southeast and is proudly focused on regionally appropriate growing methods.
Three full-day, on-farm, pre-conference workshops with special guest instructors are available on Friday, March 6, 2020 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. They are:
- Mushroom Cultivation at the Farm & Home with William Padilla-Brown & Leif Olson at Creekside Farms Education Center in Arden, NC.
- Healing Our Soils through Compost, and Compost Tea: Safe & Natural Fertilizers with Troy Hinke at Living Web Farms in Mills River, NC
- Chickens & You: From Egg to Table with Pat Foreman & Meagan Coneybeer at Franny’s Farm in Leicester, NC.
The conference will also host an evening lecture on Friday, March 6, 2020 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. with Leah Penniman entitled, Farming While Black: African Diasporic Wisdom for Farming & Food Justice. The location for this event is the Dr. Wesley Grant Sr. Southside Center, 285 Livingston St, Asheville, NC 28801.
Cost for the pre-conference workshops are $60 with conference registration (Saturday, Sunday, or both) and $75 without. For registration after January 31, the cost of Saturday is $80, Sunday is $70 and the full weekend is $140.
The Spring Conference features a trade show on Saturday and Sunday that showcases a wide array of exhibitors and products from local farms, gardening suppliers, and cottage industries that specialize in organic products and resources. Also featured on Saturday and Sunday is the annual Seed and Plant Exchange booth which offers the opportunity to preserve genetic diversity and protect regionally adapted varieties. Attendees may bring excess seeds and small plants to share, barter, or trade.
For 27 years, the Spring Conference has allowed OGS to reinforce Western NC’s role as a regional leader in sustainable food and farming. Attendees come from 18 states and Canada and have described the event as the kick-start to the growing season. The event has grown exponentially—from a small gathering of 100 growing enthusiasts in 1993 to a regionally recognized conference drawing over 2,500 attendees, exhibitors and speakers.
“We are so very lucky to have a wealth of regional wisdom, in the form of stellar instructors as well as a wealth of regional commitment to sustainable food and farming,” says OGS Executive Director, Lee Warren. “The conference is an annual event that encourages all that passion, knowledge, inspiration, and sharing to come together in one place. It’s truly an extraordinary event.”
Sponsors and supporters of the 27th Annual OGS Spring Conference are Carolina Farm Credit, Living Web Farms, Earth Tools, Gaia Herbs, Dr. Bronner’s, Chelsea Green Publishing, The Biltmore Company, Southeastern Seed & Plant Exchange, Buchi Kombucha, Southern SARE, Reems Creek Nursery, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, Sierra Nevada Brewing, Jewish Farmer Network, Reedy Fork Farm, Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority, Racial Equity Institute, Farm Bureau, Self-Help Credit Union, Laurel of Asheville, Wicked Weed, Sow True Seeds, Mountain Xpress, Hendersonville Community Co-op, Whole Foods Market, Edible Asheville, Sheville, Dig Local, Morning Ag Clips.
For more information, visit the website at https://organicgrowersschool.org/conferences/spring/ and see the entire weekend schedule at https://organicgrowersschool.org/conferences/spring/schedule/.
The Spring Conference is organized annually by the Organic Growers School, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization with a mission to inspire, educate, and support people to farm, garden, and live organically. OGS is the premier provider of practical organic education in the Southern Appalachians, building a vibrant food and farming community by boosting the success of organic home growers and farmers in our region.
–Organic Growers School