Winter is the perfect time to gather your own materials to make beautiful and functional baskets. Learn to work with abundant local vines like honeysuckle and grapevine. Then, weave traditional Appalachian ribbed baskets using ratan for structure. When spring comes around, use your basket to harvest vegetables from your garden. All levels welcome, but strong hands are necessary.
Walk the wonders of the Folk School campus and local points of interest to explore flora and fauna with an experienced Appalachian naturalist. Using your senses and tools such as a notebook, camera, or cell phone, record some of nature’s finest displays in the quiet beauty of winter. Back in the studio, document memories of our jaunts using instructor-provided tools and materials. All levels welcome; students must be able to walk a mile or more over uneven terrain, weather permitting.
Grow your own kitchen apothecary as we explore medicinal herbs, spices, and wild plant foods that help keep us vibrant and healthy. Explore healing broths, fermented foods, and wildcrafted tea blends, plus salves, syrups, tinctures, and more! Build confidence in creating wholesome, plant-based recipes and herbal medicines using organic, locally grown, and ethically foraged Appalachian ingredients. This class includes gentle walks over uneven terrain to gather fresh ingredients. Note: material...
Use power carving techniques to create a realistic, life-sized, red-tailed hawk from tupelo wood. Learn how to carve, wood-burn, and paint detailed and dimensional feather patterns to achieve a realistic look. Complete your majestic carving with glass eyes and mount the bird on a base. This is a fast-paced class with emphasis on fine detail. Students must have previous power carving experience. Note: materials fee may exceed $100.
For generations, individuals and communities have collected native herbs from Appalachian forests for personal use and to generate income. Rising public demand has created a need for forest farmers and gardeners to cultivate many of these plants. Learn the basics of how to propagate, grow, harvest, and generate a little income with some popular herbs including ginseng, goldenseal, and bloodroot. Gain some hands-on propagation experience and make a few products to take home.
Learn the historical process of flax cultivation from field through fiber preparation and spinning. Experience using different tools and techniques to process flax, including rippling, using a flax brake, scutching, hackling, distaff dressing, and hand spinning. Whether a fiber artist, museum docent, or teacher of early domestic practices, all students will benefit from individual attention and skill development. Students should have basic hand-spinning skills with a flax wheel (treadle type).
Hike with a professional naturalist and experience the extraordinary diversity of the Southern Appalachians as you learn about the natural history of the region’s plants and animals. Use all your senses to soak up details and connect them to concepts of ecology, biology, and conservation. All levels are welcome; however, students must be capable and prepared to hike over rocky, uneven terrain with elevation changes for four to seven miles each day. Hikes occur rain or shine!
Make the most of the herbs, roots, trees, and berries around you! Learn to concoct spring tonics, explore garden-grown and wild plants, and make a variety of herbal teas and beverages. Prepare wild pestos and pâtés and infuse herbs into vinegars, syrups, oils, and salts. If time allows, make body care products that are safe enough to eat! Diversify your diet, nourish and empower yourself, and connect with the plants right outside your door. Please plan for time indoors and out. Note: material...
Get to know a variety of fruits, vegetables, and herbs growing in Appalachia, including apples, pears, blueberries, pawpaws, elderberries, greens, and native and medicinal plants. Learn about soil preparation, sustainable growing, harvesting, and maintenance practices. With the Folk School campus and garden as our classroom, get hands-on experience planting and pruning. Back home, apply your new wisdom to growing your own edible landscape garden or a potential commercial niche crop.
Discover the joy of detailed botanical exploration. Walk daily in the Folk School’s gardens, fields, and forests as we observe plants and practice a patterns method of identification. Deepen your awareness of plant life stories and develop the ability to recognize plant families and identify genus and species. Practice tenants of sustainable plant collecting, learn from botanical presentations, and end each day sampling wild harvested herbal teas that we learn to brew.
Join a professional naturalist to experience the southern Appalachian spring from a bird’s-eye view. Observe seasonal migration patterns, discover an amazing diversity of birds, and appreciate ephemeral spring wildflowers. Come prepared to hike three to seven miles each day and to spend time observing and learning about birds (by sight and sound) and wildflowers. All levels welcome, but students must be in good health, fit, and capable of hiking over rocky, uneven terrain with elevation changes.
Keeping bees can be a rewarding and profitable business or a fulfilling hobby. Take advantage of this hands-on opportunity to learn how to set up and maintain your own apiary. Explore building a beehive, installing a bee nucleus and a package of bees, harvesting honey, controlling disease and mites, requeening a hive, setting up a pollen trap, and managing a bee apiary year-round. Time permitting, explore applications such as making beeswax candles.
Join us in search of some of the fifty or so bird species that frequent the Folk School’s woods and meadows. Learn to identify birds by song and practice using binoculars and a spotting scope. Alongside field time, try the latest bird apps and eBird, a real-time, online checklist program that has revolutionized how the birding community reports and accesses information. All levels welcome; some mobility is needed.
Learn to make a lightweight swarm trap to attract and provide a home for honeybees using basic woodworking skills and tools. Construct the hive from standard Langstroth frames with drawn comb and/or foundation and an aluminum-covered removable top. Plus, make a bracket for mounting the trap temporarily or permanently in a tree. Learn about best strategies for box placement and orientation and also how to move the colony and install it in a permanent hive. All levels welcome.
Learn to weave rib baskets using materials from your own backyard. Basket making time will be intermixed with exploring our outdoor surroundings for suitable weaving materials including grapevine, bittersweet, red osier, and honeysuckle. Discover how to prepare these items for weaving and how to make a black walnut dye bath. Strong hands and the ability to walk uneven terrain is recommended. All levels welcome.
Make your own split-cane rod that incorporates heritage, tradition, and craftsmanship. Learn how to select top-quality Tonkin cane and heat treat, taper, and assemble a one-tip, two-piece fly rod. Basic woodworking skills are helpful. Leave with a hand-planed rod ready for finishing, complete with all components. (Consider pairing with Bamboo Fly Rod Finishing, May 17-19.) Note: materials fee may exceed $100.
Enjoy an introduction to drawing focused on the study of plants and possibly the creatures they support. Use classic tools (graphite, ink, conté, and charcoal) to learn several essential drawing approaches and techniques: abstracting forms, gesture, contour, and rendering value. Practice capturing what you see outdoors, as well as working from photo references in the studio. All levels welcome.
Explore hand and needle felting techniques to create bead-embellished wearable art or jewelry, bags, wall hangings, and more. Work with wool from the instructor’s heritage breed Navajo Churro sheep that grow beautiful shades of brown, gray, black, white, and tan, and combine it with merino in many dyed colors. See what happens and how these different kinds of wool behave in different combinations: Churro on Churro, merino on merino, and on! All levels welcome; some physical stamina required.
Discover how to take a raw bamboo rod blank and make it stream-ready. Through hands-on demonstrations, learn your options for completion, including various finishes, wrapping techniques, dipping methods, and more. Due to curing time required, steps are studied in a shortened format and the fly rod will not be completed in class. Blanks will be available from the instructor with a two-month notice for $425, or you can make your own in class the week prior! Basic woodworking skills are helpful.
Successful fly fishing starts before casting a line. Study stream entomology to identify insects and tie flies to replicate natural specimens. Learn to tie nymphs, dry flies, attractors, and streamers, then spend two days fly fishing on the pristine waters of western North Carolina. Learn specific patterns to maximize the chances of catching a fish’s interest. A North Carolina fishing license with trout stamp is required, along with mobility and good balance.
Bring your garden to life using classical design principles with native plants and edibles. Many home gardens and landscapes are planted with non-native plants that offer little support for native birds and insects. Learn how to select and grow native trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants. Return home equipped to make gardening and landscaping choices that bring ease, beauty, and biodiversity to your outdoor living space.
Learn how you can use herbs to enhance the quality of your garden, as well as your life. Plant some herbs in the campus gardens and discover how to grow a variety from seeds, cuttings, and divisions, including basils, calendulas, lemon balm, sages, and many more. Produce amazing herbal products including salves, lotions, bug sprays, bath blends, vinegars, tinctures, and pesto. All levels welcome.
Plant vegetable crops now for fall and winter harvests and grow salads all summer. Learn how you can vary your lettuce varieties, planting schedules, and growing techniques to suit seasonal conditions. Discover hot weather alternatives to lettuce and how to protect your crops with shade cloths, row covers, cold frames, and hoophouses. Fill your salad bowl and dinner plate with fresh, delicious, organic vegetables all the way into the winter!
Aldo Leopold was an influential author and naturalist in the early 20th century whose “land ethic” became the basis for modern wilderness conservation. He designed an iconic bench intended for nature observation. Students will practice basic carpentry skills while constructing their own modest hardwood bench after Leopold’s design. No two Leopold benches are alike, but they all make space for contemplating our place in a larger ecological community.
Greens can be craveable and delicious every day. Engage your curiosity and up your greens game with new varieties and recipes. Rediscover familiar kale and get introduced to culturally specific, wild-foraged, and semi-cultivated greens such as nutrient-dense chaya, amaranth, and longevity and New Zealand “spinaches.” Learn building block recipes adapted from all over the world, such as sigeumchi-namul (savory Korean marinated spinach), for greens dishes to suit every diet and palate.
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