Never in my life have I ever felt more confident in my ability to teach. After nearly 5 years of delivering instruction on various DIY/ backyard farming subjects, I am really starting to come into my own. It all started with beekeeping, teaching that first class at 3rd Ward, then other more academic versions of my beekeeping and gardening courses at The New York Botanical Gardens popped up with a little help from friends. I felt I was out of my league in those classrooms, but I made it through those first sessions and I resolved to get better at it. Sometimes some enthusiasm and a little bit of know-how can make up for raggedy presentation.
Fortunately for my students, my presentation has improved. I've taught classes online, which require presentation to be seamless Urban Beekeeping 101 and Intro to Gardening Small Spaces have done well, giving folks outside of the New York City metro area a chance to learn about homesteading topics wherever they are. The classes are even recorded for playback convenience. Pretty spiffy, huh?
My favorite method of teaching though, is through hands on demonstration. Most recently, we hosted a mushroom workshop here at the farm and it was easily one of the best classes I've taught. We spent hours combing through the nearby woods, meandering the trails and talking about fungi and farming. We came home with arms full of mushrooms that we cooked and ate for lunch with a spicy salad from the garden and fresh goat cheese. It was glorious. At the end of the day, students left with mushroom log kits, and bags full of hens, chickens and blewits. It was a great day and I feel as though everyone left with knowledge and a perspective they may not have had before. It made me feel really proud and exceptionally glad to be in a position to share what I know.
I'm hoping to ride that high into our next class on the schedule: Homesteading Bootcamp on October 27th. This is a day of intense introduction to all manner of homesteading activities. It's one of my favorites, and quite frankly at $100 a ticket I think it's a steal.
Here's how this bootcamp goes down:
Students arrive for a tour of the farm at 9 am for coffee and pastries. Introductions are made and everyone gets comfortable, allowing time for anybody taking the ferry to arrive.
Once that is out of the way and everyone is settled, it's down to business. There's a lot of information to cover in one day. We'll start with Gardening basics; finding a location for your garden, types of garden beds and cultivation techniques, crop selection and planting schematics. After that, composting and a bit of foraging for wild edibles (mushrooms are in season in a big way around here!) We'll move on to raising livestock like chickens, rabbits for eggs, meat and manure, and there will be a very brief intro to dairy goats. We'll go inside for a bit to make some yogurt and chevre from our recently harvested goat milk. We'll eat a vegetarian lunch and then get back in the saddle, moving onto fermentation (sauerkraut, hot sauce, pickles) and canning. A beekeeping presentation will take place in my living room, so prepare yourself for cuddles from my fat cat Myra.
There will be some time at the end of the day for Q&A, feel free to bring a libation of choice if you'd like.
Classes like these are what will keep this farm operational during the winter. It's the only product I have to sell to keep the animals fed and cared for and to keep a roof over our collective heads. There is no consulting, no beekeeping, no honey during the cold months of the year. Just me peddling my big mouth. I'm shaking what god gave me.
Come spring, we'll have our CSA up and running, markets to attend and even more hands on workshops for DIY enthusiasts to participate in with more expert speakers (think intensive dairy goat workshops, shellfish farming, agroforestry, hunting, etc), but right now, it's never been more important for my readership to come and support the farm. So, if any of these classes seem intriguing to you, consider signing up. My online workshop calendar is going to be filling up with more topics all winter long so keep checking for new workshops HERE!