Farm School 

Friday, January 25

All three sessions run from 9:00am to 5:00pm with 30 minute breaks in between. 

Flower School
with Gretel and Steve Adams of Sunny Meadows Farm.
Since 2007, Gretel and Steve have built the highly successful Sunny Meadows Flower Farm. The beginnings of selling bunches of flowers has grown to the present day production of sustainably grown fresh cut flowers and seasonal wedding floral designs. This day’s track will cover crop planning, season extension, selling flowers and the business of flower farming.

Session 1: 9:00-10:30am
Crop Planning:
Good timing and planning is one of the keys to success for flower farms. This session will discuss how to have flowers throughout the season using multiple successions and crop planning. Utilizing a series of Excel worksheets, Gretel and Steve discuss how information is transferable from year to year, can help estimate capacity, and assist in planning for a continuous supply of seasonal blooms.

Session 2:  11:00am-12:30pm
Season Extension:
Using tunnels and heated structures to increase time with blooms available helps take the pressure off of growing only outside during the summer months.  Find out what crops work best in heated and unheated structures and how to time crops for holidays like Mother's Day and Thanksgiving.

Session 3: 1:30-3:00pm
Selling Your Flowers:
Assess which markets work best for your area and business model. As the flower farming sector grows, learn how to carve out your own niche and identify opportunities for how your business can set itself apart.  

Session 4: 3:30-5pm
The Business of Flower Farming:
When you are a seasonal business, cash flow is an important tool to ensure that you'll have enough money through the winter to keep operations going until money starts coming in the spring. Understanding the ebbs and flows will help gain control of your business and make decisions about everything from large investments to the smaller daily expenses.

Hoophouse Growing School
with Andrew Mefferd, author of the Greenhouse and Hoophouse Growers Handbook.
Growing vegetables in a hoophouse/greenhouse is becoming more important for local growers to lengthen the local food season. However, there are many differences between growing in the field and in protected culture. Many small growers are using the same techniques they use in the field in protected culture, and missing out on some of the benefits of the most precious real estate on the farm. This track as a whole will cover the techniques that most professional/commercial greenhouses use, that smaller growers could benefit from, as detailed in Andrew’s book, The Greenhouse and Hoophouse Grower’s Handbook.

Session 1: 9:00-10:30am
Crops for the Hoophouse:
We will start with some of the frequently misunderstood basics of protected growing to get us all on the same page. The focus is on the eight most common edible greenhouse crops: tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, eggplant, lettuce, greens, herbs and microgreens. We will discuss why these crops are the most reliable ones to pay off, and how to evaluate the potential of other crops.

Session 2:  11:00am-12:30pm
Growing Practices in the Hoophouse:
We will move into intermediate material including best practices for growing these crops, propagation, temperature, climate control, plant care, spacing and trellising.

Session 3: 1:30-3:00pm
Varieties for the Hoophouse:
We will look specifically at variety selection for the most important greenhouse crops (tomatoes, cukes, peppers, eggplant, lettuce, greens, microgreens herbs, and other less common crops), spending a few minutes on each crop and what growers should look for when choosing varieties for protected production.
Session 4: 3:30-5pm
Advance Techniques in Hoophouse Growing:
We will look at some of the more advanced techniques such as controlling condensation, vegetative/generative steering, and grafting. Though much of this course will deal with intermediate to advanced techniques, there is a quick learning curve. Growers will learn how to go from basic to advanced over the course of a few seasons.

Permaculture School
with Richard Perkins, author of Making Small Farms Work.
Ridgedale Farm AB is a high-quality local food producer and pioneering educational site. Here at 59°N in Sweden we demonstrate and teach Farm Scale Permaculture Design, Regenerative Agriculture, Keyline Design, Agroforestry, Pasture-based livestock enterprises, Holistic Management, No-Dig Market Gardening as well as operating our own on-farm poultry processing facility.

Session 1: 9:00-10:30am
Overview of Ridgedale Farm:
See and hear how the operations at Sweden’s Ridgedale Farm bring success, ecological sustainability and community resilience. Our foremost responsibility is regenerating our landscape, ecosystem processes and soils through resilient, replicable, scalable and profitable farm enterprises. Our secondary function is to educate, facilitate, inform and empower people into action through regenerative design, enterprise and holistic decision-making that fosters and stimulates local community, economy and resilience.

Session 2:  11:00am-12:30pm
Designing farms for the future:
For farms to be truly successful, managing a triple bottom line is key. Placing ecological regeneration on equal footing with satisfied customers receiving quality food locally and maintaining good economy will ensure farm success. Ultimately, it is good design, effective decision making, diligent planning and monitoring that make it all work. In Farm-Scale Permaculture we aim to observe and understand natural patterns to be able to design more effective and resilient systems. Economic considerations are no different. Selling what you produce is half the work. We explore CSA’s, buying clubs, farm currencies and other innovative ways to reduce the work and risk whilst building community.

Session 3: 1:30-3:00pm
No-Dig Commercial Market Gardening:
No-Dig represents the very best soil-building approach to growing annual vegetables. With BioIntensive spacings and good crop planning, this makes for a small-scale, economically profitable enterprise. We will discuss innovative approaches to growing microbiology, the tools to make it all happen, and harvesting and planning. The back end of the planning and design considerations that reduce the workload of this intensive enterprise will also be covered.

Session 4: 3:30-5pm
Pastured Poultry Profits:
Pasture-based production is so vital to farms of the future, as there are no shorter chains of production than converting sunlight to flesh via grasses. Yet, so little emphasis and understanding has been placed on grass physiology and ecology. We will look in detail at pastured egg mobiles and broilers. These options are fantastic profitable small farm enterprises that play a very important role in rekindling tired pastures and that can easily be scaled up and down accordingly. We will also look at on- farm slaughter, processing and nutrient cycling.