Spring Training for Gardeners 2023

Grow Your Own!

Grow your own field of dreams with EarthDance Spring Training

REGISTRATION OPENING FEBRUARY 1, 2023

Would you love to grow your own food but don’t know where to begin? Or have your previous attempts at gardening fruits and veggies fizzled?

Get in the game: We are here to help you grow a delicious bounty! This 5-week course was designed for total beginners to gardening as well as those who want to plan and maintain their most successful garden yet. Spring Training will meet you where you are, with both online and hands-on options available.

Round the bases as you learn step-by-step how to choose the best crops, determine the right site for your garden, prepare your soil, manage your plot throughout the growing season, and put into play our easy tips to maximize your yield.

For the first time, in 2023 all Spring Training course options are offered with Pay What You Can pricing – that means all courses are offered on sliding scale payment model. We mean it literally – pay what you can. Read more about this change to how we are making Spring Training more equitably accessible below in the FAQ.

During Spring Training you will…

2023 Schedule of Online and Hands-On Classes

March 15th – April 15th

Registration opens February 1, 2023. In the meantime, explore what Spring Training for Gardeners will look like in 2023!

I Want to Grow Food. Where do I Start?

Taught by Coaches Jena Hood & Adia Hunt

Online: Wednesday, March 15th; 6 – 7:30pm

Tools, Techniques, and Templates you’ll gain:

  • Sample garden plan
  • Template for creating your own garden plan
  • Garden glossary
  • List of where to source seeds and supplies

Learn how to create a garden plan! Are you brand new to gardening, and don’t know where to start? Or have you tried before, but didn’t see the results you wanted? After coming up with achievable goals for growing your own food and defining some basic garden terminology, we’ll walk you through understanding your resources and limitations for producing food. You’ll also learn what factors to consider when selecting your location and deciding what to plant to set yourself up for success!

Starting from Seed

Taught by Coaches Jena Hood & Spencer Cook

Hands-On: Saturday, March 18th, 9:00am -11:00am OR 1:00pm – 3:00pm

Tools, Techniques, and Templates you’ll gain:

  • Tips to take care of your seedlings at home
  • Seed starting schedule for the St. Louis growing region

One of the most important ways to take control of your food and be self–sufficient is the ability to successfully start your own plants from seed! In this hands-on class, we’ll demonstrate how to start your own seeds successfully. Starting your seeds indoors allows you to develop healthy seedlings that will be ready to transplant into the garden. Learn what seeds to choose for your location, the right timing for seeding, what kind of soil to use and why, soil temperature and watering for success. Don’t have a greenhouse? No problem! We’ll discuss various DIY options to get you started at home. You’ll receive a handout with our tips for maintenance as well as a seed starting schedule for our growing region.

BONUS: You’ll plant your own tray of seedlings to take home! (We’ll have tomato and pepper seed varieties on hand for you to choose from.)

Top 10 Veggies for Home Gardening Success

Taught by Coaches Jena Hood & Adia Hunt

Online: Wednesday, March 22nd, 6 – 7:30pm

Tools, Techniques, and Templates you’ll gain:

  • Sample crop rotation diagram
  • List of plant families (and common crops in each)
  • List of Top 10 veggies and a few honorable mentions

 

Looking for your best starting line-up for gardening success? This class will help you choose which veggies to grow that will help you have home gardening success. You’ll be guided through our “Top 10 List” and learn what to consider when choosing varieties, growing techniques, and planting locations for each. This list will have suggestions for what to try your hand at growing if you’re a complete rookie, and also some ideas for you gardeners with a few seasons under your belt.

The Down and Dirty: Secrets to Great Soil

Taught by Coaches Jena Hood & Ro Kicker

Online: Wednesday, March 29th, 6 – 7:30pm

Tools, Techniques, and Templates you’ll gain:

  • Composting diagram
  • List of what to include and what to avoid in your compost pile
  • Soil food web diagram

How do you grow an abundance of nutrient-dense food for yourself, your family, and your community? The secret is in the soil! In this virtual class, we’ll explore ways to bring soils to life and grow naturally productive gardens. You’ll learn how to recognize healthy soil, feed and nourish the soil food web, and build soil fertility using simple strategies and techniques available to every gardener. We’ll also discuss how to best use compost, amendments/cover cropping, and so-called garden “waste” to meet the nutritional needs of your soil and your plants. We’ll cover tips for building better compost and the pros and cons of organic materials in your own backyard (Note: This is not a soil science class, although some concepts will be discussed.)

From Grass to Garden: Bed Building Basics

Taught by Coaches Jena Hood & Ro Kicker

Hands-On: Saturday, April 1st, 9:00am -11:00am OR 1:00pm – 3:00pm

Location: Innovation School at Cool Valley

Tools, Techniques, and Templates you’ll gain:

  • Supply list for building your own raised bed
  • Suggested places to source bed building materials

In this hands-on class, you’ll learn the steps needed to turn your lawn into a bountiful garden. We’ll demonstrate how to remove grass (without using chemicals) and cover the basics of raised bed/container gardening. Picking the right spot is key to maximizing your harvest! We’ll review various raised bed designs and the materials you can use to create your own raised bed garden. You’ll receive hands-on instruction in sheet-mulching/lasagna gardening, building a raised bed, planting best practices and tips, including how to best fill the bed for maximum garden potential. We will also discuss a variety of techniques that you can use for season extension and pest management. Perfectly timed to get you ready for the warm growing season, this experience will help you take your first step into that backyard herb garden or veggie plot you’ve been wanting. No tilling required!

Pests, Weeds, and Plant Disease – Oh My!

Taught by Coaches Jena Hood & Will Delacey

Online: Wednesday, April 5th, 6 – 7:30pm

Tools, Techniques, and Templates you’ll gain:

  • Recipes for homemade organic pesticides
  • Common weed ID sheet
  • Common garden pest sheet

Do you love to grow your own food but can’t seem to control the bugs and weeds? Not sure if you’re over-watering your tomatoes? In this virtual class, follow Farmer Jena around the farm and into EarthDance demonstration gardens to learn how to organically manage pests and weeds! Gain the knowledge needed to identify pest and disease problems early and take the appropriate actions to keep them at bay. We’ll explore different tools and tricks for managing the weeds that never seem to stop. We’ll also discuss when and how often to water and fertilize your garden. By the end of this class, you’ll have a lot of new tools in your toolbox to grow with confidence!

Maximizing Your Yield for Year-Round Deliciousness

Taught by Coaches Jena Hood & Guest Coach [announcing soon!]

Online: Wednesday, April 12th; 6 – 7:30pm

Tools, Techniques, and Templates you’ll gain:

  • Companion planting chart
  • Seed saving chart

The best way to keep top-quality, organically grown produce on your table year-round is to grow as much as you can, and preserve plenty to eat for when your garden isn’t producing. This is a worthy goal, as organic, homegrown produce is more nutritious, delicious and sustainable than the typical store-bought fare. In this class, you’ll learn how you can implement many creative growing strategies to maximize your harvest. We’ll discuss planning for abundant garden production (i.e., growing high yielding crops, using perennials); ways to use your space more efficiently (i.e., vertical gardening, companion planting); smarter garden harvesting techniques (i.e., cut and come again crops); how to limit inputs of time and money (i.e., seed saving, making and using your own compost); and how to stock up for winter (i.e., growing crops that store, options for preserving the harvest).

Plant It Forward – Community Work Day & Celebratory Potluck*

Hands-On: Saturday, April 15th, 9:00am -1:00pm

Meet at various sites at 9am; convene at EarthDance, 233 S Dade Ave, 63135 for final celebration at 12:00pm

Now that you’ve accumulated a wealth of knowledge and experiences in organic gardening, it’s time to put it into practice! You’re invited to participate in a day of “Planting it forward,” and also celebrating the completion of Spring Training!

While urban agriculture is often praised for stimulating local economies, improving air and soil quality, and promoting sustainable growing techniques, one of its most important qualities is its development of the next generation of knowledgeable growers. The partnership with Ferguson-Florissant School District provides students with the opportunity to have thriving school gardens as living classrooms. Empowering students with garden-based education allows the district to tackle food insecurity and through experiential learning, students participate in seed-to-table right at school!  

To start the day, you will receive a tour of a community garden and a behind the scenes look at garden operations from how the organization coordinates volunteers, what these gardens are growing, and where the food is being distributed. You will have the opportunity to participate in hands-on garden/farm work and put into practice some of the things you’ve learned through the spring training program. Tasks will vary but may include: raised bed building, spreading compost/mulch, planting trees, weeding, and tidying up the site.

And afterward, we’ll convene at the Dick McBride Community Pavilion at EarthDance to share food together*, and acknowledge your accomplishment at completing this 5 week course! If you’ve attended every session, you’ll receive a certificate of completion and a 4-pack of veggie starts to get you growing at home!

*Please note: EarthDance will provide a light spread but you are welcome to bring your own lunch in this BYO-everything style picnic. This is a low-to-no waste event.

Do you live in the St. Louis area?

You’re in luck! In addition to the 5 week live online Spring Training, you can join us in person for hands-on education at our 14 acre Organic Farm School campus in Ferguson. On Saturday, April 2nd, Saturday, April 16th, and Saturday, April 30th, you can participate in-person to learn all about propagation and seed starting in a greenhouse, understand how to lay out your garden area, and feel confident in building your own bed and/or starting your own container garden. Both morning and afternoon sessions are available for the first two workshops – choose which time when you sign up!

The third in-person workshop, Plant it Forward, involves a tour and community work day at one of our partner farms or gardens and culminates in a celebratory potluck to complete the course together.

EarthDance is offering Spring Training on a Pay What You Can basis to all – if Pay What You Can to you means participating in Spring Training free of charge, you are invited to do so. You can choose from any of our 5 classes, select the entire bundle of online live classes, or even participate in the Online + Hands-on training that includes the Saturday workshops (though there is a minimum $25 fee for all for the full course). Our goal in offering these resources at less financial cost to all is to better support our community’s health and well-being. Many of our community members have experienced food apartheid, and we aim to help create a shift towards food sovereignty. The EarthDance community extends far beyond the edges of the farm and we are committed to increasing access to our educational programs for all, no matter their location.

Spring Training – You Choose the Format that Works Best for You!

Online Only

Available to anyone with internet access, anywhere! The Online Only package includes 5 weeks of live and interactive online classes.

Interested in learning organic vegetable gardening, while staying at home? Or perhaps you just want to get started remotely or brush up on your gardening know-how, and can’t commit to attending the three Saturday sessions at our farm in Ferguson. This opportunity is available to anyone, anywhere, with internet access!

You’ll log into our virtual Farm & Garden Zoom Classroom each Wednesday evening of Spring Training. Each of these 90 minute classes, led by EarthDance’s professional farmers and guests, will include a presentation, interactive learning, and plenty of time for Q & A with an experienced farmer. You’ll also receive a list of recommended tools and templates for each topic, including suggestions for where you can source any of the materials you’ll need to get started.  2022 prices and schedule listed below. Registration will open February 14th.

Just follow the button to sign up to receive updates on Spring Training and other farm education opportunities at EarthDance.

Full Course: Live Online + Hands-on

If you live in the St. Louis, Missouri, area, you can sign up for the Full Course Online + Hands-on option! This includes all online classes PLUS three in-person workshops to learn all about propagation and seed starting in a greenhouse, understand how to lay out your garden area, and feel confident in building your own bed and/or starting your own container garden. Both morning and afternoon sessions are available for the first two Saturday workshops – choose which time you prefer when you sign up!

The third in-person workshop, Plant it Forward, involves a tour and community work day at one of our partner farms or gardens on Saturday, April 30th, culminating in a celebratory potluck to complete the course together.

How much does each option cost?

We are re-vamping our course pricing so as to offer more equitable accessibility to this knowledge. 

EarthDance’s Spring Training program was designed with equity at the center. We strive to remove barriers that keep people from living healthy lives and growing food for themselves and their communities. EarthDance understands that many of these barriers are the result of oppressive systems that privilege some people and disempower others based on race and financial position. EarthDance embraces a charge to critically examine the role that our organization plays in maintaining or disrupting these systems. Learn more on our decision to make changes to our educational programs here.

With this in mind, EarthDance is offering Spring Training on a Pay What You Can basis to all – if Pay What You Can to you means participating in Spring Training free of charge, you are invited to do so. You can choose from any of our 5 classes, select the entire bundle of online live classes, or even participate in the Online + Hands-on training that includes the Saturday workshops (though there is a minimum $25 fee for all for the full course). Our goal in offering these resources at less financial cost to all is to better support our community’s health and well-being. Many of our community members have experienced food apartheid, and we aim to help create a shift towards food sovereignty. The EarthDance community extends far beyond the edges of the farm and we are committed to increasing access to our educational programs for all, no matter their location.

BONUS: Participants in the full course Live Online + Hands-on Spring Training will receive a variety of vegetable seedlings upon completion of the program!

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

I don’t have much gardening experience; is this program right for me?

Spring Training was designed for you if you have never grown a vegetable garden before and are eager to start! Or, if you have had a garden, but didn’t have as much success as you wanted to. Or if you’ve gotten started, but want to learn more so you can increase the frequency or volume of your harvests! This program is NOT FOR: seasoned, veteran gardeners or folks who can’t spare 2-3 hours each week for 5 weeks.

What are the 2023 dates of this program?

Live online classes are Wednesdays 6:00-7:30pm, March 15th, 22nd, 29th, April 5th, 12th, & 27th. Hands-on training is March 18th, April 1st, and 15th at EarthDance Organic Farm School in Ferguson (or nearby schools!).

How much does each option cost?

We are re-vamping our course pricing so as to offer more equitable accessibility to this knowledge. 

EarthDance is offering Spring Training on a Pay What You Can basis to all – if Pay What You Can to you means participating in Spring Training free of charge, or if it means paying it forward to support your classmates, you are invited to do so. You can choose from any of our 5 classes, select the entire bundle of online live classes, or even participate in the Online + Hands-on training that includes the Saturday workshops (though there is a minimum $25 fee for all for the full course). Our goal in offering these resources at less financial cost to all is to better support our community’s health and well-being. Many of our community members have experienced food apartheid, and we aim to help create a shift towards food sovereignty. The EarthDance community extends far beyond the edges of the farm and we are committed to increasing access to our educational programs for all, no matter their location.

What is the difference between Live Online and Hands-on classes?

Live online classes will be held over zoom each week. During classes you will interact with EarthDance farmers, the presenter of the week and fellow online class attendees. Hands-on classes will be held socially distanced at the EarthDance Organic Farm School campus, located in Ferguson Missouri, on Saturdays.

Can I register for Live Online Classes a la carte?

Yes! If you do not want to participate in all 5 weeks of the online course, you can choose which class to sign up for, and pay a la carte.

Can I register for Hands-on classes a la carte?

No. In-person, hands-on classes are only available with the Full Course Spring Training Online + Hands-on Option.

Are you still doing the Apprenticeship program?

The EarthDance Farm & Garden Apprenticeship, our flagship program for 12 years, is no longer continuing in the same form. We have reconsidered the optimal ways to offer farm-based education that meet the needs and availability of as many people in our region as possible, and have determined that offering a shorter duration, lower cost, beginner-focused organic gardening program is what is most needed right now.

We also have seen the need for a more time-intensive organic farming apprenticeship program that gives aspiring growers the opportunity to explore organic farming as a career path.. and that also offers pay! We are partnering with AmeriCorps to be able to do so, and offering a Summer Apprenticeship that will be a 10-week, full-time organic farming apprenticeship to allow participants to engage in regenerative agriculture hands-on. Summer apprentices will receive AmeriCorps wages and gain agricultural skills while helping to grow more healthy food for our region. Applications for this program will open in April, with a June 1st start date for the program.

Have another question or would like to contact us directly?

Contact EarthDance’s Managing Director: programs@earthdancefarms.org.