Backyard Gardener Workshop Series

This new series is designed for the aspiring small-scale farmer.  Each session offers an in-depth exploration of a specific topic through lectures and hands-on activities, granting you the skills needed to confidently and successfully cultivate your own garden space.

Fruit Tree Pruning and Grafting: April 7, 2018

Always wanted to grow healthy fruit trees of your own?  This workshop will cover the science and techniques for grafting and pruning fruit trees in Maine, including a hands-on demonstration in our orchard. You’ll even leave with a tree to cultivate in your home garden.

Start spring with an overview of orchard care for your backyard garden.We’ll start in the conference room for a lesson in fruit tree grafting and pruning, led by ReTreeUS program manager, Richard Hodges. He’ll cover grafting science and techniques which will then be practiced out in the orchard.  From there, we’ll head up to the Banter Orchard for a field lesson on pruning young apple trees, and next to the vegetable plot to demonstrate proper grafting in the field. Workshop members will graft their own Black Oxford apple trees – an heirloom Maine variety! – which they will get to bring home and plant.


When: Saturday, April 7th from 1:00pm-4:00pm

Cost: $50 ( includes cost of apple tree, each participant will take one home)

Draft Power Workshop & Demonstration: May 19, 2018

Not everyone is burning fuel and using tractors to get the job done around the farm. Some farmers still work their land the old fashion way, with horses, oxen and walk-behind or ride-along equipment.  In this workshop & demo, we will learn how the farmers communicate with, instruct and train the animals.  We will also learn about the equipment used to perform tasks in the forest and field.
We will meet at the Little River Farmhouse and fuel up on coffee and snacks before taking a scenic hay wagon ride up to our Fruit & Vegetable production plot. Former Teen Ag Member Katie Josephs and her 4-H team will get us started with their team of oxen. Katie and company will field questions while they teach us how the oxen are rigged up for work, and how they respond to her commands. We’ll see the action begin as the oxen plow up a few rows for farmer Tom. Q & A to follow.
Next, we’ll hop back on the hay wagon and head across the farm to the historic Banter House where Richard Lee and Kate Del Vecchio of Tender Soles Farm will teach us about low impact forestry including a horse-powered logging demonstration. 

When: Saturday, May 19th from 10:00am – 1:00pm

Cost: $20

Past Workshops

Winter Growing Tour & Talk

This workshop explores best practices for winter growing. As long as the weather allows, participants will tour our year-round growing infrastructure and then venture inside to talk about extension practices for the backyard grower.

Topics Covered:

  • What do plants need to grow all winter?
  • Understanding photo period
  • Micro climates
  • Greenhouse components explained. Why incorporate mobility?
  • Maintaining soil fertility in a closed environment
  • Designing your winter garden

Winter Greenhouse

Understanding Integrated Pest Management

Are the bugs and weeds in your garden getting you down? This workshop digs into integrated pest management and integrated weed suppression management practices. We’ll focus on organic solutions to help you get out of the weeds.

Topics Covered:

  • Pest identification
  • Crop rotation & interplanting
  • Deep organic pest control
  • Timing crops according to pest life cycle

Composting on the Farm

If you think you generate a lot of compost in your household, imagine what it looks like on a farm scale! In this workshop, we’ll discuss what it takes to manage food waste and biomass (leaf piles, grass clippings, etc.), both in your own gardens and on our farm. Learn the science behind what’s in your compost pile, followed by a walking tour of compost in action. The workshop will include both a lecture and a walk around barn and chicken tractor.

Topics Covered:

  • Building the perfect compost for your home garden
  • Understanding the ingredients: Carbon to Nitrogen ratio
  • How do invertebrates & bacteria help us compost
  • How our laying hens provide more then just eggs, nutrients too!
  • How our “Egg mobile” works
  • Why our ” Egg mobile” follows our cows
  • How we compost here on the farm
  • What does it take to manage a farm scale compost?
  • How does vegetable compost differ from the compost we spread on our hay fields?