The National Center for Appropriate Technology is offering a series of free monthly workshops this summer on how to grow food sustainably.
The workshops are from 10 a.m. to noon at NCAT’s Small-Scale Intensive Farm Training (SIFT) demonstration farm at the nonprofit’s headquarters, located at 3040 Continental Drive in Butte.
May 13: Preparing Your Organic Garden: In conjunction with the Clark Fork Watershed Education Program and Montana Tech’s Earth Month, the SIFT series will begin with a hands-on lesson on composting basics, organic potting mix, organic soil amendments, cover crops, mulching methods, and more. It also will cover scheduling plantings throughout the growing season and the importance of hardening off plants in the Butte area’s often challenging environment.
June 17: Analyzing Your Soil and Creating a Management Plan: This workshop will cover analyzing soil types, conducting infiltration tests, and reviewing soil tests. It will look at different management strategies to address the needs of the soil and develop a plan. It will address tillage and degradation of soils, irrigation and water holding capacities, and develop a custom cover crop mix.
July 22: Benefits of Increasing Biodiversity: This workshop will address the benefits of increased pollinator habitat, integrated pest management, and mitigating risk in cropping strategies by building more biodiverse ecosystems. In this workshop, participants will plant drought-tolerant native pollinators. There also will be a tour of NCAT’s native hedge rows and agrisolar array.
Aug. 19: Saving Seeds and Preserving Food: This workshop will cover selecting heirloom varieties that work well in the Butte area climate and the basics of seed- saving techniques. It also will address the characteristics of vegetables that increase shelf life throughout storage, processing, and preservation methods.
Sept. 16: Choosing Varieties to Grow in Butte: This workshop will feature NCAT’s annual taste test of successful varieties of fruits and vegetables trialed on the SIFT Farm. It will also cover timing, growing tips, and seed selection for high yields in Butte, as well as seed- saving basics for a resilient farm and garden.
To RSVP for the free events, head to NCAT.ORG/EVENTS.