For 25 years, the Organic Growers Spring Conference has brought together environmentally minded folks from 17 states and Canada. The University of North Carolina (Asheville) hosted this educational event that offered regionally specific workshops on organic growing and sustainable living. It was a event that provided down-to-earth, practical advice while remaining affordable and accessible to anyone who wanted to participate. There were many learning and networking opportunities. Plus it was good, clean fun.
As someone who is just beginning – basically still searching for land – I thought perhaps this might be a little over my head. My focus was primarily on chickens, so that hopefully next spring I would be educated enough to raise my own small flock of chicks. The classes I attended were fantastic. All the basics were clearly spelled out, pitfall discussed and the practical how-tos were covered. The presenters were more than patient with a wide variety of questions thrown at them.
I was treated to a short film on the life cycle of an egg. It was precluded by a short video on a chicken actually laying an egg. Two fascinating videos! One instructor also brought live chickens, in a cat carrier, to demonstrate the proper way to handle chickens and provided us with a hands-on opportunity for those of us that had never actually touched a real, live chicken. I learned where to buy chicks, what they most needed to thrive, how to properly handle and store eggs, process the meat, and most importantly who to call when I encounter problems. The instructors were smart, generous and obviously passionate about chickens.
While I stuck mainly to the chicken track, trust me there was something for everyone. They had classes on raising, growing and preparing everything: community food, cooking, earth skills, farming, gardening, herbal medicine, homesteading, livestock, mushrooms, permaculture, pollinators, poultry, soils, water, sustainable forestry and sustainable living. Besides classes, there was a vendor tent. I scooped a few varieties of locally harvested seeds to try in my garden this year.