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ABOUT THE SERIES

Want to know a secret? The Pioneer Valley is FULL of one of the richest resources you could imagine. Sprinkled throughout this beautiful valley are a treasure trove of local homesteaders, builders, crafts people, farmers and permaculturalists, each with their unique skills to share. This workshop series will aim to link YOU with these educators as they help you to acquire your own homesteading skills. Starting in April and continuing all the way into November Ancient Ponies Farm will host full and half day classes on everything from plant propagation to hand-woven slippers! All of these workshops will focus on learning by doing as each teacher leads you and your classmates through a hands on project.

For our second season, we’re offering some really great workshops that we hope you’ll take advantage of. All teachers are skilled in the subjects they teach.

REFUND POLICY: 50% of the workshop cost up to 1 month before the workshop.

NO-ONE TURNED AWAY DUE TO LACK OF FUNDS.  Work Trade and Barter are also accepted.  Contact zoeruth@mac.com to arrange. 

Abundant Plant Propagation

TEACHER: Daniel Bensonoff

DATE: April 26th
TIME: 9:00-12:00pm
COST: $30

Description

One of the primary barriers in starting a new garden can be the cost of plants, particularly perennial plants. By learning a handful of essential techniques we can create a multitude of useful plants for ourselves and the greater community. During this workshop we’ll practice a variety of propagation skills including hardwood cuttings, layering, stooling, and more. Participants will leave with foundational skills to cheaply and easily create a more abundant garden.

About Dan

Dan Bensonoff loves playing with his food. Ever since he was a boy he has enjoyed foraging, gardening, brewing, learning about global culinary traditions, and, of course, eating! Dan has worked in a variety of roles in and around food systems: everything from lobbying for better policies for organic farmers to vegetable farming to teaching culinary classes in High School. Currently Dan works as the coordinator of the UMass Permaculture Initiative where he gets to experiment with new and exciting crops and growing techniques along with students.

Beginning Beekeepers Mentorship Program

TEACHER: Ori Ben-Shir

DATE:  May 3rd, June 7th and August 2nd
TIME: 9:00-3:00pm
COST: $225

BYOS (bring your own suit)! There are some suits available to borrow.  Contact 94benshiro@gmail.com to arrange.  

*class limited to 12 students

This mentorship program will provide practical, hands-on guidance for students looking to learn the basics of honeybee care. Over the course of three full-day sessions, we will address behavior analysis, honey management, swarm prevention, increasing colonies, and queen production/management. We will also learn techniques to improve the resilience and overall health of our bees, drastically reducing the need for treatment for diseases and pests. Each class will feature time out in the bee-yard, observing and physically interacting with the bees at Ancient Ponies Farm.

About Ori

Ori Ben-Shir, a UMASS Stockbridge graduate, has been working with bees for the last 5 years. In this time he has worked in commercial apiaries in three different countries. Currently he is working for the Apiary Inspection program inspecting commercial and residential beehives for the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture Resources (MDAR). Ori has recently started his own operation in Western Massachusetts called Sun of Songs Apiaries. Here he will focus on raising disease resistant strains of honeybees, and producing locally adaptive queens and colonies.

Decoding The Beehive

TEACHER: Ori Ben-Shir

DATE:  June 14th
TIME: 9:00-12:00pm
COST: $30

BYOS (bring your own suit)! There are some suits available to borrow.  Contact 94benshiro@gmail.com to arrange.

*class limited to 12 students

Description

Join experienced beekeeper, Ori Ben-Shir, for a 3 hour “hive dive” and see for yourself how the honeybee colony functions. Together we will find the queen, watch the waggle dance, observe the different stages of honeybee development and taste honeycomb straight from the hive! We will also leave time for a discussion of some methods for keeping local pollinators happy and healthy.

About Ori

Ori Ben-Shir, a UMASS Stockbridge graduate, has been working with bees for the last 5 years. In this time he has worked in commercial apiaries in three different countries. Currently he is working for the Apiary Inspection program inspecting commercial and residential beehives for the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture Resources (MDAR).  Ori has recently started his own operation in Western Massachusetts called Sun of Songs Apiaries. Here he will focus on raising disease resistant strains of honeybees, and producing locally adaptive queens and colonies.

Non-Traditional Uses for the Unheated High Tunnel

TEACHER: Danny Botkin

DATE: May 17th
TIME: 9:00-12:00pm
COST: $30

Description

There are numerous ways to design, build, adapt and exploit the power of high (and low) tunnel greenhouses, besides just planting traditional row crops for market production. Passionate greenhouse practitioner, Danny Botkin, (Laughing Dog Farm) will share slides, descriptions, details and stories of various “niche” growing tactics, seasonal “shortcuts” and unlikely opportunities gleaned in 14 years growing under hoophouse cover, using a “four season, hand-powered, permacultural approach. As a group we’ll tour the new and rapidly evolving high tunnel greenhouse at Ancient Ponies, lending our critical eyes to the multiple, overlapping potential designs and uses of its ample, interior space…

About Danny

Danny is a passionate grower and mentor who farms and teaches on a historical, five-acre, hilltop homestead in Gill, MA. You can contact him at laughingdogfarm.com

Chinese Medicine and Permaculture

TEACHER: Sharon Weizenbaum

DATE: July 12th
TIME: 9:00-12:00pm
COST: $30

Description

What is the relationship between the principles of Chinese medicine and the principles of Permaculture? Permaculture farmers and gardeners are deeply aligned and in harmony with natural principles and know, from this experience, how profound our relationship is with nature. And yet, allopathic medicine is still the primary perspective we carry about our own bodies. How are the principles of allopathic medicine similar to the agricultural methods we are trying to move away from to heal our planet? Even western herbalism most often uses allopathic principles to diagnose patients. In this workshop participants will learn how the classical Chinese medicine view of the human body is in complete accordance with the principles of permaculture. You will learn how the classical Chinese physiology is about our relationship and alignment to our the cosmos within and around us and how health is about cultivating this good relationship. You will learn how diagnosis is about seeing how someone has lost this alignment. You will learn how the flavors, nature and appearance of the medicinal plants reveal how they can help us align.

This workshop is suitable for anyone who is wanting to include their own bodies and health in their perspectives on farming and especially for herbalists who are wanting to move toward a system of healing that aligns with their felt and deepest principles.

About Sharon

Sharon Weizenbaum lives on her small permaculture homestead with her family of people and animals. She has practiced Chinese medicine for 37 years after having graduated from the New England School of acupuncture in 1983. She has traveled to China and Taiwan many times to study with a focus on ob/gyn and classical, Han dynasty medicine. She has translated 12 books of case studies from Chinese that are organized according to formula families. She teaches all over the world and runs a two-year graduate program and a three-year entry level program for herbalists at her White Pine Institute, in Amherst, MA .

Backyard Mushroom Cultivation

TEACHER: Graham Skorupa

DATE: July 5th
TIME: 9:00-12:00pm
COST: $30

Have you ever wanted to expand your garden to include other kingdoms of life? In this course we will take previously made spawn and demonstrate three different inoculation methods available to the average farmer/backyard gardener looking to grow mushrooms. More specifically, we will cover woodchip beds, log plugging and totem stacking. Learn how to maintain moisture and induce fruiting as well as the benefits these mushrooms bring to our gardens (and our bodies). There’s no need for the laboratory sterility often assumed required to grow mushrooms. Come learn the “dirty” more natural way!

About Graham

Graham Skorupa is a mushroom LOVER.  He was raised in the woods with a fascination for all living things, especially mushrooms, and has been foraging solo and as a guide for others since he was 12.    He has grown his own mushrooms since high school and has also worked in a mushroom laboratory.  The glamour and fun of growing in a lab spiked his interest for lower tech, “dirty” cultivation.  Ever since, he has been developing methods for cultivating that are accessible to everyone, not just those with access to laboratories.

Introduction to Mushroom Foraging

TEACHER: Graham Skorupa

DATE: August 23rd
TIME: 9:00-12:00pm
COST: $30

In this course you are going to head to the woods, so dress appropriately and do a rain dance. We are going to stick to introductory mushrooms, safe to identify for beginners. On the walk, we will identify mushrooms as you find them. After this forest excursion, you will take your haul to the kitchen for a lesson in how to process and cook your foraged findings!

About Graham

Graham Skorupa is a mushroom LOVER.  He was raised in the woods with a fascination for all living things, especially mushrooms, and has been foraging solo and as a guide for others since he was 12.    He has grown his own mushrooms since high school and has also worked in a mushroom laboratory.  The glamour and fun of growing in a lab spiked his interest for lower tech, “dirty” cultivation.  Ever since, he has been developing methods for cultivating that are accessible to everyone, not just those with access to laboratories.

Decoding The Beehive

TEACHER: Ori Ben-Shir

DATE:  June 14th
TIME: 9:00-12:00pm
COST: $30

BYOS (bring your own suit)! There are some suits available to borrow.  Contact 94benshiro@gmail.com to arrange.

*class limited to 12 students

Description

Join experienced beekeeper, Ori Ben-Shir, for a 3 hour “hive dive” and see for yourself how the honeybee colony functions. Together we will find the queen, watch the waggle dance, observe the different stages of honeybee development and taste honeycomb straight from the hive! We will also leave time for a discussion of some methods for keeping local pollinators happy and healthy.

About Ori

Ori Ben-Shir, a UMASS Stockbridge graduate, has been working with bees for the last 5 years. In this time he has worked in commercial apiaries in three different countries. Currently he is working for the Apiary Inspection program inspecting commercial and residential beehives for the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture Resources (MDAR).  Ori has recently started his own operation in Western Massachusetts called Sun of Songs Apiaries. Here he will focus on raising disease resistant strains of honeybees, and producing locally adaptive queens and colonies.

Hand Woven Slippers

TEACHER: Kokoro Bensonoff

DATE:  September 20th
TIME: 10:00-2:00pm
COST: $45

*class limited to 15 students

Come join us to explore the joy of making sandals and upcycling. Using strips of fabric from recycled T-shirts, professional weaver Kokoro Bensonoff will guide you in learning the Japanese sandal making technique. By the end of the workshop you will walk away (literally) with a pair of hand-woven shoes. You are welcome and encouraged to bring your own shirts but there will also be some available to use.

About Kokoro

Kokoro was born and raised in Tochigi, Japan. She has been a seat weaver in Massachusetts for a decade. She is exploring the world of upcycling by refurbishing and repairing chairs with recycled materials. To learn more about Kokoro, please visit kokorocrafts.com

Beyond Kraut: Diving Deeper Into Fermentation

TEACHER: Daniel Bensonoff

DATE:  October 25th
TIME: 9:00-12:00pm
COST: $30

Fermentation is truly the most alchemical means of creating deep, unique flavor from simple raw ingredients. Given the recent renaissance in fermented foods, many of us are now very familiar with sauerkraut and other popular ferments. But so much of the global fermentation tradition remains undiscovered. In the workshop, we will work with seasonal ingredients to create fermented dishes inspired by traditions from around the globe.

About Dan

Dan Bensonoff loves playing with his food. Ever since he was a boy he has enjoyed foraging, gardening, brewing, learning about global culinary traditions, and, of course, eating! Dan has worked in a variety of roles in and around food systems: everything from lobbying for better policies for organic farmers to vegetable farming to teaching culinary classes in High School. Currently Dan works as the coordinator of the UMass Permaculture Initiative where he gets to experiment with new and exciting crops and growing techniques along with students.

Journey Through Fire

TEACHER: Walker Korby

DATE:  November 15th
TIME: 9:00-3:00pm (with a mid-day break for a potluck lunch)
COST: $60

What is your true relationship to the element of fire? As humans, our lives are inextricably linked to our ability to harness one of the most powerful processes in nature. Whether we are turning the dial up on our thermostat, driving a car, or sitting around a campfire, we are in constant relationship to fire but at the same time very disconnected to it. In this day-long adventure we will rekindle this relationship by exploring the art, science, and our shared human heritage of creating fire. We will learn and practice proper fire lay techniques, making fire with friction, and also making fire disappear. Bring a comfortable carving knife if you have one, and avoid wearing synthetic material if possible.

About Walker

Walker Korby is a renaissance man, bringing his engaging enthusiasm to bear with whatever the subject matter at hand is. As an ardent naturalist and tracker, he weaves together unique perspectives informed by his backgrounds in Deep Ecology, Forestry, Arboriculture, Permaculture, Geography, Human Ecology, Land Conservation, Anthropology, and Public Safety, to name a few. The unifying factor in his work is a passion for ensuring that our future generations remember how to relate to the rest of the natural world. He lives in Montague with his wife and their three children.

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