The National Center for Appropriate Technology’s popular summer gardening and market-farming workshop series begins May 21 with a practical look at preparing an organic garden.
NCAT operates a high-altitude urban demonstration farm in Butte through its Small-Scale Intensive Farm Training program (SIFT) that is focused on food production for the good of the community. NCAT staff will host the free monthly Saturday workshops from 10 a.m. to noon. RSVP for the SIFT Series events here.
The workshops will be held at NCAT’s SIFT farm, located at 3040 Continental Drive in Butte.
The May 21 workshop will be a hands-on lesson in composting basics, including organic potting mixes, organic soil amendments, cover crops, and mulching methods. It also will cover scheduling planting throughout the growing season and the importance of “hardening off” plants – allowing them to transition from an indoor environment to what can be a challenging growing environment in the Butte area.
The workshop is being held in conjunction with Montana Tech’s Earth Month and the Clark Fork Watershed Education Program.
The other workshops on tap throughout the summer include:
June 25. Analyzing your Soil and Creating a Management Plan: This workshop will include methods to analyze soil types, conduct water infiltration tests, and review soil tests. It will look at management strategies to address the needs of the soil and develop a plan to meet those needs. The workshop will address tillage and the degradation of soils; irrigation and soil water-holding capacities; and custom cover crop mixes to meet soil needs.
July 2. Benefits of Increasing Biodiversity: This workshop will focus on how building more biodiverse ecosystems can be beneficial by increasing pollinator habitat, bolstering integrated pest management, and mitigating risk in cropping strategies. The workshop will include planting drought-tolerant native species and touring SIFT’s native hedgerow.
August 13. Harnessing the Sun’s Energy for Season Extension in Southwest Montana: In conjunction with the 11th Annual Montana Clean Energy Fair, which will be held at NCAT’s headquarters, SIFT will be holding an open house and tour. Topics will include high-tunnel construction and solar passive greenhouses, as well as the costs, construction, and functions of useful season-extension tools for Southwest Montana. Visitors will learn about using the resources readily available to operate a sustainable farm.
September 10. Choosing Varieties to Grow in Butte: This workshop will include NCAT’s annual taste test of successful varieties of fruits and vegetables grown as a trial on the SIFT Farm. The discussion will include timing, growing tips, and seed selection for high yields in Butte. A discussion of seed saving basics for a resilient farm and garden is also planned.