Soil Classes

Fall Classes: Growing Living Soils!

It’s downhill now to the Fall Equinox, the ideal time to get your winter soil growing strategies into action. To help you decide what will work for your garden, we are offering our final soil classes of the year on September 8th and October 13th.

Topics we will cover include:

  • Cover crops and mulching – how these differ in their effects on your soil allies: the fungi, bacteria, and all the other members of the soil’s web of life.
  • How to put your garden to bed in ways that maximize carbon sequestration.
  • How to make a cover crop cocktail (without any alcohol!)
  • Using soil to catch the winter rains.
  • How to time your soil building activities with the changing season.

All classes will take place from 10am to noon. The cost is $20 per class. You are welcome to take one or both classes.

Soil is the key to a healthy and happy world, Soil organisms have been transforming our planet into a paradise for millions of years. It’s time for us all to give those microbes some help! Come and be inspired!

Held at Bluebird Permaculture Farm, 11153 Cement Hill Road, Nevada City.

Spring Classes: Growing Great Soils!

Are you ready to grow the most nutrient-dense foods possible? Would you like to learn about the simplest and most effective carbon sequestering strategy available to all humankind?

Then join us for Growing Great Soils! This is a 3 class series on Saturdays March 10, April 14, and May 12, 2018. Take any one, two, or all three. Classes start at 10am and end at Noon.

Each class will focus on soil-enhancing activities appropriate to that month, sending you home with ideas and insights that you can immediately apply. Each class will also include at least 30 minutes devoted to answering questions, so we can be sure we are giving you help where you need it most.

We can save you time, money, and energy by helping you understand what techniques to apply in your garden, when to use them, and what fertilizers and amendments to buy. (Hint: almost none!)

Soil is the key to a healthy and happy world, but it’s not about the soil chemistry – it’s about the soil biology. Soil biology has been transforming our planet into a paradise for millions of years. It’s time for us all to give those microbes some help!

All 3 classes will cover:

  • The critical importance of soil organic matter and how to build it in your soil.
  • Enhancing the liquid carbon pathway for deep carbon sequestration.
  • Using your weeds to build soil health.
  • How to grow soil that creates “effective rain”.

All classes will be demonstration-oriented, filled with well-timed strategies, and grounded in key principles so you can think on your feet.

Held at Bluebird Farm and Permaculture Garden, 11153 Cement Hill Road, Nevada City. The cost is $20 per class or $50 for all three.

Growing Great Soil! classes will happen rain or shine (but not snow). In case of rain, we will be outside for a half hour or so and then head indoors for a fuller discussion of details.


***I am offering a discount for on-site permaculture/garden consultations to those who take two or more of any of our classes this spring. You will get $20 off the regular hourly rate for a 1 to 2 hour site visit. These consultations can help you fine-tune your growing and focus your energy in all the right places. (Travel rates added for visits outside a 15 mile radius of Nevada City.)




Soil Building for Gardeners and Climate Activists

We can improve our own health and well-being while sequestering excess atmospheric carbon by learning to take care of the soil beneath our feet. This is not just a project for farmers; it a project for everyone.

This 2-day class series is for those who want to understand what it takes to create healthy soil for both plants and planet. Human health, prosperity, and resilience are dependent on both high quality foods and on a stable and reliable climate to grow the plants that are the source of that food. A living, carbon-rich soil creates both of these.

October 21, 2017 Workshop Topics:

  • The Bio-Cycles of Healthy Soil, part 1: This is a process-based look at soil chemistry and soil structure. We will examine the relationship of soil microbes to the minerals and chemistry of the soil with an emphasis on how they contribute to creating soil aggregates – the key to moving carbon and water into the soil.
  • Plants as Soil Builders: Plants are much more active in choosing and working with microbial partners and in foraging for nutrients and water than is widely realized. We will be taking a close look at what goes on in the root zone – the rhizosphere – and how that contributes to a healthy soil.
  • Key Techniques to Building Healthy Soil: The focus will be on mulch and compost, two of the most effective techniques for supporting soil biology. We will discuss details of materials to use, pitfalls to avoid, and how to grow successfully using these techniques.

November 4, 2017 Workshop Topics:

  • The Bio-Cycles of Healthy Soil, part 2: Continuing our process-based look at the movement of nutrients in the soil, we will dive deeper into the soil food web – that web of life that creates a rich and living soil that sequesters carbon, nitrogen, and other minerals. We will explore the role of earthworms, gophers, and other soil creatures. in creating healthy nutrient and water cycles.
  • Carbon, Energy, and Water: While much soil information continues to emphasize the role of nitrogen, carbon is truly the king of living soil. We will learn about the Soil Regeneration Cascade, exploring how the activity of plants, soil microbes, and larger soil creatures combine to create a synergistic flow that stores carbon and water in the soil where we need them while growing plants that offer us the peak of nutrition.
  • Beginning Biodynamics: Biodynamics is an agricultural system that takes up where organics leaves off. We will take an introductory look at cosmic and atmospheric growth factors on plants and animals, silica-clay-lime interactions, biodynamic composting preparations, biodynamic field sprays, and the farm as organism.

Workshops are 9:30am – 3:30pm, with a 45-minute lunch break. Please bring your own lunch! Held at Bluebird Farm, 11153 Cement Hill Road, Nevada City, CA.

You will also receive a weekly email between the two workshops to fill out the information we cover in class, to keep you stoked, and to provide links to web resources. In addition, workshop participants can opt to receive an on-site consultation with either Tom or Renee Wade at your garden location and get $20 off the regular consultation fee.

Cost: October Workshop $60 / Both Workshops $100 – Must attend the October 21 workshop in order to attend the one in November. Pre-registration required.

Both workshops taught by Tom and Renee Wade, certified Permaculture Designers along with guest teacher and Biodynamic farmer Marney Blair of Fulcrum Farm.

Tom and Renee are both certified Permaculture Design consultants, farmers, and landscapers with over 40 years combined experience. Renee is also the author of The Living Earth Handbook: Creating Sustainability from the Inside Out. She holds a degree in Ecological Agriculture. Tom is a talented storyteller with an amazing capacity to bring the details to life. Marney is a biodynamic farmer and compost expert. She is also active with the Slow Food movement.

For questions or to pre-register:


The Real Dirt on Soil Workshop

Discover the secret to healthy soil: biology and carbon! Soil science is in a huge growth phase, similar to that being experienced by modern medicine as both discover this new “organ” within our bodies and planet, created by the beneficial microbes that live in collaboration with us.

Soil that is rich in biology will create its own balanced nutrient-dense chemistry, creating super healthy plants that are not bothered by insects or disease. Such soil is also essential to re-establishing a healthy carbon cycle and mitigating climate change. Knowing how to kickstart and support your soil’s microorganisms is the key, and autumn is an ideal time to start this process.

In this 3-hour workshop you will learn:

  • Which common garden practices have the biggest effect on your soil’s health.
  • How soil health translates directly into plant health and your health.
  • The common myths about nitrogen that make for pest-attracting plants.
  • How to create a rich soil that cycles nutrients sustainably.
  • How to create humus-rich compost that feeds the soil life needed to support robust plants.
  • Why healthy soil is also drought resistant.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Taught by Tom and Renee Wade, innovative farmers and permaculture designers with over 45 years combined experience building healthy soil.

Sliding Scale Fee: $15 – $30

Held at Bluebird Farm in Nevada City, CA