10/27 How to raise Pigs and Lamb (Sheep) – We will be joined by Allison Hosford of Two Pond Farm, who will give us a intensive flash course in the basics of raising these animals for meat (or fiber as the case may be) as well as tips on how to process and use the whole animals.
This Homesteading course is food focused – we’re not going to spinning wool or weaving chair seats (as cool as those skills may be...) But this course is a solid Backyard Food Production Workshop, focusing on how to set your backyard up – not matter what size it is – to produce the protein, fat, sugar, and other nutrients needed to sustain you and your family.
We'll be meeting Friday afternoons once a month or so starting in September and go through the winter into the following spring. In nice weather, we'll have very hands-on style class days, starting with processing chickens at our first class. Through the winter, we'll spend more time indoors both in the house and greenhouse with more lecture-style and planning and plotting class days.
Not everyone can raise everything - we'll be discussing how to make these decisions and will also make sure that the sourcing of local food sources is a part of what we are covering. After taking this class, you will have a full grasp on what to ask and look for when buying local food. And how to make best use of whole or half animals whether you raise them yourself or purchase from another farmer. And we'll be sure to cover storage and preservation as well!
An important aspect to running a backyard homestead is longevity and sustainbility - you'll be improving your land and soil through growing your food. And we'll talk about budgeting and planning as well. This is a practical and common-sense approach to producing organic food.
We are very excited to share our experiences with you and get you well on your way to developing your own efficient and smooth-working food growing program that fits your backyard and lifestyle.
3/23 Forest Farming / Food Forest - Our focus in the first half of this class day will be on Forest Farming, one of the most sustainable ways of producing food crops. Mushrooms are a big part of a Food Forest - We’ll be inoculating logs with shitake mushroom spores as well as setting up totem style oyster mushroom logs. We will discuss various methods of shade-growing including medicinal endangered native herbs.
For the second part of the class, we’ll talk about greenhouse growing. Growing tropicals as well as long-season stuff like artichokes, is possible and can be done responsibly and sustainably.
A very nice way to make even more use of a greenhouse is with aquaponics - raising fish like tilapia and using plants to process the fish water. The fish get clean water and the plants use the dirty water as an ultimate fertilizer.
6/8 After all of our jammed packed class days, we are leaving this last day open for questions and further development on topics of further interest…
7/13 Snow day* – Just in case we had to cancel one of the winter classes due to bad weather conditions, we wanted to save this day on everyone’s calendar.
Homesteading At Midsummer Farm
Growing Great Healthy and Safe Food in any size backyard!
This is the course we wish were able to take twenty years ago when we began growing our own food. And we can't express how excited we are now to be pulling the syllabus together and opening up for registration!
It is fun to have a lively backyard with plants and animals producing delicious food. And it is fulfilling on a deep human level to be in charge of where your food comes from. We are always thrilled by the high quality and wonderful flavor profiles you can get with homegrown food. For a cook, food grown in your back yard within reaching distance of your kitchen is simply perfect! You have perfect control over your ingredients from seed to finish!
12/1/17 We are going to start the garden planning process by talking about perennial crops such as herbs and berries and fruit trees. Berries are so worth growing as tend to be easy to grow and they are just so expensive and always old and rotten in grocery stores. Non-organic berries are also over sprayed with a soup of chemicals. Most berries have very few insect issues and with just a little planning ahead, you can create an abundantly producing berry patch. We will also talk about nut growing as well, as nuts do grow quicker than most people think.
Calorie Crops will be covered – an important group of plants – Potatoes, Winter Squash, Beans, and Corn.
Small Space Production will be focused on as well on this day – we’ll talk about micro-growing (microgreens and shoots) as well as raising rabbits and quail.
4/6 Time for transplanting! Now’s the time to transplant cold-weather annuals out into the field or garden and transplant hot-weather annuals into larger pots. We’ll talk about the flexibility of the cold weather annual crops and how many opportunities you have to grow them year round. And we’ll talk about some great warm weather annuals that are uncommon, but are truly worth growing.
We’ll also address garden problems – diseases, fungus, animals pressures and how to balance bad insect populations by attracting and supporting good insects including native pollinators. We’ll also talk more about some useful extra organic and sustainable gardening techniques and some amendments to have on hand.
Then we will cover Beekeeping 101 – everything you need to know to start keeping honeybees organically.
Outline of Class Days
10/13 Fall Gardening - We are still busy in the garden in the Fall. It is the perfect time for spreading the summer’s composting efforts and for creating new compost piles. We will also be going over the wide variety of plants that do well when planted in the fall such as perennials, berries, fruit trees, natives, and more. It is also time to plant garlic and shallots.
We'll discuss growing onions of all sorts with a clear plan for scheduling your allium growing. I use onions constantly when I cook and like to have some sort of onion always available to harvest all year round.
We’ll also do some hands on work propagating berry plants.
We will also cover season extension techniques from cold frames to greenhouses and good old fashioned succession planting - many food plants grow well in cooler temperatures without any extra cover.
Cost is $465 for 11 intensive class days. We're starting soon - September 1st, because we have meat chickens to process and want you to be involved! We are offering an Early Bird Discount of $35 ($430) if you register and pay by August 15th !
This course also very nicely complements our Permaculture Design Certificate Course. If you have taken our PDC course in the past, you can also take the $35 discount. And if you sign up for both this course and for the Permaculture course this year, you can take $100 off the cost of the Permaculture Course!
Food you grow yourself is also cleaner and safer than what you find in grocery stores. It has a higher nutrient density and there are ways to increase nutrient density even more by practicing soil building and diversifying animal diets. Even more energy can be instilled into your food growing through biodynamics and other energetic styles of growing and raising food. We'll go through all these methods in our workshop.
Backyards full of food gardens and properly kept animals are also restorative for the earth. Our focus in this class is to grow lots of great food and restore and revitalize the land at the same time.
2/16 We’ll start our class by tapping some maples for maple syrup and doing some winter work like checking and pruning the berry and fruit trees.
Then the rest of the time, we will spend talking about designing garden space for efficiently working food production. You will get a clear overview of a bunch of different popular gardening styles to be used and combined and integrated to create your own gardening style that fits your space and needs. We’ll be discussing the major tenets of organic gardening, which will influence the gardening styles you are considering. Doing this planning now, in the winter, will make your spring efforts much more efficient.
At the end of this class, you'll be growing better tomatoes, adding potatoes all over, growing carrots all year round, squeezing berry patches in everywhere, raising fabulous fowl, and be more than able to take on raising large meat or dairy animals. We will also cover raising honeybees, growing tilapia along with greens in an aquaponic system, producing mushrooms in shaded areas, herbs and spices, and even some long season and tropicals in a greenhouse. Season extension and succession planting to elongate the harvest period is also a big focus.
We'll be meeting 11 Fridays:
1 pm to 4 pm
9/1/17 (first day we meet at 12 noon for homestead lunch)
7/13/18 - Snow date in case of inclement weather
9/1 We meet at 12 noon - an hour earlier than usual for introductions and a luncheon, using all home grown ingredients.
At lunch, I will go over general growing philosophies (artisanal, sustainable, herbs to address problems, respectful, restorative rather than taking, working for nutrient richness, organic standards and way beyond...) that will defining our coursework for the upcoming season.
After lunch, we will talk about raising poultry for meat and dive right in. Our pastured broilers will be ready for processing, and I'll be demonstrating how we do it. You can participate on any level you feel comfortable with. We'll also be discussing the various types of meat birds, pros and cons of pressure-genetic hybrids vs pasture-style or artisanal style hybrids vs heritage breeds, how to raise meat birds successfully and with nutrient density in mind, husbandry styles, processing and storage techniques. One thing to note here - you won't go home filthy! Our birds are raised in clean open areas and we have the butchering process down to an organized art form. Our goal is super-clean birds that were raised respectfully and taste delicious.
3/2 Dairy production will be the focus of this day’s classwork – We will be joined by an expert in milk cows (TBD), who will be discussing what is involved in raising milk animals (family cow, goats, sheep). We’ll also discuss homemade milk or made locally purchased milk.
9/22 We will start at the normal class time - 1 pm. And we will continue discussing poultry. Poultry are one of the easiest ways to raise high quality protein and fat, and birds work well in almost any backyard or environment. Eggs are one of the most balanced and complete food sources, and eggs produced by pastured birds are super nutrient dense and full of important fats and amino acids among other nutrients necessary for human health. We will comprehensively cover all aspects of raising poultry - chickens, ducks, turkeys, pheasant, quail, and more. We'll cover housing options, brooding chicks, hatching eggs, pasturing options, feed types, breed types, general care, making best use of the manure, dealing with health issues and predators, etc. Poultry also are a great way to balance vegetable growing, providing manure to enrich the soil, eating bugs and garden refuse.
We’ll also be providing some efficient and easy Planning Techniques. We have some great ways to create Animal Farm Plans and Plant Farm Plans, an often neglected part of homesteading, as well as quick enterprises budgeting sheets that you can use for any part of a homesteading project.
1/26 After a break for the holiday season, we’ll gather again just as seed starting season winds up. We’ll go over all my secrets for successful seed germination, a must have skill for the avid vegetable and herb gardener. We will also discuss seed saving and breeding, choosing seed varieties (hybrids vs heirlooms and open pollinated varieties), and create a plan for deciding what to grow.
We’ll finish up the day with a discussion on some of the most useful and useable prepping or survivalist techniques – lacto-fermenting and pickling, vinegar-making, making clean water, food storage and preservation, and more.