2020 Workshops

Kids’ activities will be held from 10:00 am-12:15 pm and 1:00-3:15 pm in room 208.

9:00-10:00 am

Farm to School: Compost in the Classroom (OPI credit for K-12 teachers)


10:00-11:00 am

DIY Pollinator Gardening – Hailey Graf

In this workshop, you’ll learn how to provide forage, nesting, and overwintering habitat for pollinators – no matter how big or small your garden. This workshop is part of the Flathead Conservation District’s Pollinator Initiative, and we’ll discuss pollinator conservation, plant selection, and available landowner support programs.

Getting Started with Fruit Trees – Susan Horner-Till

Selecting trees and their site, planting, and taking care of them (including watering, fertilizing, early pruning, winterizing, and some info on organic disease and pest control). Most of the emphasis will be on apples and touch briefly on pears, cherries, plums, and apricots. The workshop will also suggest some good resources for additional information.

I Stopped Tilling, Now What? – Patti Armbrister

This workshop will cover the best practices of using compost (in no-till production) to grow high-quality food while improving your soil with every season. Practical practices include using compost to control weeds, improving fungi populations, and enhancing the soil food web. All this happens while growing great-tasting food packed with nutrition and improving soil for life!

Growing Your Best Tomatoes – Matt Thrasher

Matt Thrasher of Box of Rain will share his knowledge about tomato growing (starting/cloning/pruning). He’ll also give a primer on various soil amendments and how to use them.

DIY Compost Tumbler – George Michels

You know you want one, so let’s build it. Join local carpenter and gardener George Michels as he walks through the assembly of a backyard compost tumbler made from a 55-gallon poly barrel. Discussion will include features of this and other popular designs, options for sourcing/repurposing materials, and basic recommended tools. Leave with the confidence that you can do it!

Seed Starting 101 – Nathan Christianson

Seed Starting 101 will go over each step involved from ordering seeds to transplanting healthy starts into your garden. The necessary supplies, growing conditions, and techniques will be shared with you to ensure the plants will be healthy, thriving, and set to grow in the garden. The success of the garden largely depends on how healthy plant starts are. Being able to identify key signs of unhealthy plant starts can save you time and money. Harnessing tools and know-how will decrease your disappointment and improve the outcome of the garden.

Panel Discussion: Left Behind Harvest: Designing a Path for Distributing the Abundance

This panel discussion looks at what it takes to develop a successful gleaning system for gathering excess harvest from growers and orchards in the valley.


11:15 am-12:15 pm

Garden for Wildlife: Gardening with Purpose – Claudia Hewston

Come join the National Wildlife Federation and learn about our Garden for Wildlife™ program. Explore the benefits of native plant species and the roles they play in supporting native wildlife within their environment. We will also address habitat loss and how we can combat this challenge through the implementation of the five major components needed to increase suitable habitat for native species throughout Montana.

Top to Root: Savoring It All – Julie Laing

What do Bloody Mary mix, carrot-top salsa, yogurt whey muffins, and roasted raspberry jam have in common? All these delicious recipes rely on ingredients that typically head straight for the compost or sink drain. Learn more from local food blogger Julie Laing of Twice as Tasty as she shares ways to eat from top to root. You’ll also learn how to give trimmings a second life, ban “discard” from your kitchen, and ultimately look at what heads for your plate versus your compost bin in a new way.

Raising Chickens in an Easy Way – Lindy Dewey

Participants will learn how to address issues of keeping water clean and reducing feed waste using low-maintenance solutions.

Create a Plan to Gather and Grow Herbs in 2020 – Joleen Barce

Create your own working calendar for growing and gathering herbs and roots in 2020. You will receive planning fundamentals to fill in your own calendar as we plan for growing and gathering herbals for a personal home farmacy. This will be an interactive, hands-on class for the upcoming season.

Make and Manage Your Own Worm Bin – Alissa LaChance

Join Alissa LaChance of Dirt Rich Compost for a hands-on, how-to discussion on making and maintaining your own worm bin setup. She’ll focus on how to get going on composting your scraps at home – and not becoming a bear attractant.

Even Eggplants Grow Here! Breeding Seeds for Our Bioregion – Judy Owsowitz

Panel Discussion: Backyard Four-Season Growing: Sustainable Greenhouse Designs for Our Valley

Sustainable backyard greenhouse, hoop house, and root cellar designs that work for growing, storing, and accessing locally grown food through our Montana winters.


1:00-2:00 pm

Sustainable Beekeeping & Farm Planting Diversity for Pollinators – Angela Tollerson

Angela Tollerson of the Flathead Valley Beekeepers’ Association will discuss how to run a sustainable, chemical-free apiary – without purchasing bees from the southern United States so that beekeeping does not become an “expensive” hobby. She will cover her failures and successes with winterizing bees for our valley. She will also cover how to plant for local pollinator health on our farms by encouraging hedgerows, weed boundaries, and use of pollinator-friendly herb/pesticides.

Leverage the Local Food System to Feed Your Community – Michael McCormick

Michael McCormick will share how he transformed the Livingston Food Bank into the Livingston Food Resource Center. Learn about how this amazing organization feeds its community healthy, local freshly made products all year long.

Soil Health: Principles of Conservation Agriculture for Your Garden or Farm – Todd Ulizio

Growing healthy food requires healthy soil. But what exactly is healthy soil? Learn about organic matter, soil microbes, soil tilth, and the practices that support better soil.

Can You Have a Pest-Free Garden? – Patti Armbrister

A proactive approach to dealing with pests in your gardens. The solutions will surprise you! Prevention is better than reacting to pests in your garden. Topics include use of compost extracts, farmscaping, and polycrops. Offering ideas on how to deal with flea beetles, cabbage loopers, slugs, and more. “Is it possible to grow food without holes in your leaves?” The workshop will cover how to stop sharing much of your crop with insect pests and offer a better understanding of common garden pests and current best organic practices on how to deal with them.

Make Your Own Compost Tea – Sandy Burch

Compost tea is a soil treatment that improves plant health and reduces your need for fertilizers and herbicides – and you can make it yourself! In this workshop, we will discuss the basics of living soil, proper compost tea brewing methods, and pitfalls to avoid.

Seed Starting 101 – Nathan Christianson

Seed Starting 101 will go over each step involved from ordering seeds to transplanting healthy starts into your garden. The necessary supplies, growing conditions, and techniques will be shared with you to ensure the plants will be healthy, thriving, and set to grow in the garden. The success of the garden largely depends on how healthy plant starts are. Being able to identify key signs of unhealthy plant starts can save you time and money. Harnessing tools and know-how will decrease your disappointment and improve the outcome of the garden.

Panel Discussion: Eliminating Single-Use Plastic: How Our Community Food System Is Making a Difference

Local market farmers, retailers and farmers markets share what they are doing to eliminate consumer single use plastic. Learn about alternatives considerations, and share your knowledge!


2:15-3:15 pm

How to Tell Your Climate Story – Sarah Harding

Climate scientists are saying the most important thing we can do for the climate crisis right now is to talk about climate change. But facts and figures don’t change minds! We’ve learned that over the last 30 years. So what can we talk about? By uncovering and refining our own personal, emotional climate story, we can connect with other people. In this workshop, I will discuss how to remember, uncover, and reveal how climate change has affected each person through writing prompts. Then I will talk about how to effectively share your story with others.

Cultivating Gourmet Mushrooms at Home – Shawn McDyre

This workshop will focus on mushroom cultivation techniques that can be used at home and in the garden. There are many ways to grow mushrooms that utilize everyday waste products and require low energy inputs. Mushrooms are an underutilized whole food source with many health benefits and can be produced almost anywhere in the world.

Eco-friendly Lawn Alternatives – Ise Lund & Karli Becher

Tired of maintaining that lawn? Learn about environmentally friendly lawn alternatives from our panelists! Topics include lawn-to-garden conversion, pollinator-friendly plantings, and using plants native to our area. Ise Lund from Planet B Harvest and Karli Becher from the National Resource Conservation Service will be presenting.

It’s Cold Here: Year-Round Seasonal Eating in the Flathead Valley – Mandy Gerth

An 18-minute presentation (because if TED Talks can be 18 minutes, this talk can be too) focusing on practical applications for home/homestead seasonal eating in our climate. With the theme of this year’s Free the Seeds! on recovery, I’ll cover some creative ways to incorporate many parts of produce that are commonly composted or discarded. The presentation will be followed by a working session (worksheets provided). You’ll leave this hour with an action plan for using and preserving bountiful harvests and for getting more fresh food on your table year-round.

Flowers as Healing Agents – Kimberly Fisher

Each kind of flower has a specific healing, strengthening, and balancing vibrational pattern unique to the species of flowers. And each has its own unique wisdom. The use of flower essences is a marvelous gift offering helpful information for your electrical system. Come explore what they have to offer and how they can help you and your animals.

Steps to a Successful Seed-Saving Garden – Robin Kelson

This interactive workshop will explain the three key components to building a successful seed-saving garden. Whether you are new to gardening or a long-time grower, everyone can save seeds!

Panel Discussion: Converting Leftovers to Soil: School Projects That Are Putting Food “Waste” to Work

The panel features local students, teachers, and school staff who have successfully put food waste projects in the classroom, cafeteria, or school-wide. These projects include classroom worm bins, school-wide composting initiatives, using compost in the school garden, and food waste challenges. Get inspired to begin a composting project at your school!