ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The Organic Growers School is excited to announce the 30th Anniversary of its flagship event, the Spring Conference, to be held at Mars Hill University, Mars Hill, NC, February 24-26, 2023. The anniversary conference and associated special events will continue the organization’s mission to support, inspire and educate people to farm, garden, and live organically by providing affordable, practical, and hands-on education while offering the opportunity to celebrate the non-profit’s legacy in the region over these past three decades.
The Spring Conference happens over three days, with the preceding Friday dedicated to day-long workshops at off-campus sites around Western North Carolina. Over the weekend, we offer around 60 90-minute workshops organized into 15 themed tracks, such as Mushrooms, Herbs, Gardening, Farming, and Sustainable Living. There will also be over ten half-day workshops that provide opportunities to get more hands-on experience with topics such as cob oven construction, backyard chickens, and spirulina cultivation. Alongside all of these wonderful educational workshops, the Conference will also feature a lively Exhibit Hall full of local vendors, our annual Seed and Plant Exchange, fun networking opportunities, local food trucks, and more!
“Several years before I joined the staff of Organic Growers School, I attended the Spring Conference at Blue Ridge Community College and fell in love with the warmth, wisdom, and community I experienced at the event,” said Executive Director Cameron Farlow. “The Spring Conference was born from the collective efforts of local, organic-minded farmers and growers committed to the affordable, place-based, grower-to-grower transfer of organic growing knowledge. After 30 years, that event has not lost its homegrown community feel. Our whole Organic Growers School team is excited to welcome and celebrate our history and look to our future with new and returning growers at the 30th Spring Conference.”
The first Organic Growers School Spring Conference was held in 1993 with just over 100 participants. Since then, the event has grown exponentially to serve more than 2,000 farmers, gardeners, educators, students, consumers, and chefs. They gather from over 18 states and Canada, making the OGS Spring Conference the largest event of its kind in the Southeast. Organic Growers School, a 501(c)3 organization, employs a staff of 10 and offers year-round programming for farmers, gardeners, homesteaders, and those passionate about food justice.
OGS is also excited to announce that there will be a sliding-scale ticket price structure for the event for the first time. The event has long been the most affordable of its kind in the region. Even so, investing in continuing education can be out of reach for many growers and aspiring growers struggling to make ends meet. Others in our community are searching for ways to share their abundance and directly support community members in need. The sliding scale includes a half-price option, a true-cost option, and a higher-cost option. It will enable those unable to afford the full-ticket price to pay what they can and invites those with the means to support the organization by providing this equity price. OGS will also offer a small pool of scholarships to those for whom the sliding scale price is not affordable.
Through this anniversary conference, OGS will continue building on its legacy of affordable, organic education. Expect to encounter many familiar faces from growing communities in Appalachia. Whether you are an enthusiastic local eater, food system advocate, new to growing, or have a few seasons under your belt, we hope you’ll join us to kick off the new season with the growing community! Registration will open on December 1, 2022.
For more information, please visit https://organicgrowersschool.org/conferences/spring/.
—Organic Growers School