By Rebecca McKinney | December 28, 2015
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As Cultivate rolls into its second year, we’re tempted to say that we’re actually having a five-year anniversary. It’s been five years since SCOOL hosted its inaugural SC Organic Growing Conference and edible Upcountry produced its initial Food Hub, the first farmer/chef networking event in our area. The idea to combine the two events, in partnership with the Culinary Institute of the Carolinas (CIC) at Greenville Tech, has created a bigger, bolder, more synergistic experience. This year, we’re moving to a one-day format, where culinary, gardening, and farming classes will be offered within a framework designed to support networking among our attendees.

Collaboration and synergy are certainly the key words as we move forward in 2016. We’re welcoming new track sponsors: the Southern Goat Producers Association and Gardening for Good, both of whom are sponsoring tracks at Cultivate as an alternative to hosting separate events. These partnerships allow us to offer an even broader range of classes. We’ve added classes that include ethical foraging, growing ginseng and goldenseal, home brewing, canning, no-till techniques, farm branding, social media for farmers, vegetable varieties for small spaces, and basic chicken health—and a whole track on homesteading.

Along with some of our favorite instructors, we’re adding new faces and bringing back some old friends. Daniel Parson—formerly of Parson Produce in Clinton, now manager of the organic farm at Emory’s Oxford, GA, campus—will be back to teach us how to read soil test results and convert recommendations into organic amendments, and how to better plan our farm businesses. Cyndi Ball, founder and president of the National Ladies Homestead Gathering in Virginia, will present an efficiency model for homesteading in the class “Mutualistic Symbiosis: A Homesteading Class with a Permaculture Twist.”

CIC’s own Chef Austin Craft will demonstrate a small-scale aquaponics unit he built to grow transplants for the GTC farm, and share information on trends and techniques in the aquaponics industry.

This year, we’ll also offer a combined session in the afternoon for the poultry and sheep and goat tracks titled “Feed Quality and Economy: Best Practices.” Clemson Extension agent Danny Howard will lead a panel discussion with farmers from around our area who have developed creative and cost-effective solutions for producing and using animal feed.

We hope that you’ll join us at Cultivate on March 5th to help build a community of people who grow, cook and network.

(Visit and for more information.)

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