Webinar Series: Soil and Habitat-Building Techniques for Organic Orchard and Vegetable Farms with Helen Atthowe

The Agriculture Campus Plant-Based Society (ACPBS) Dalhousie University is hosting a 6-part webinar series with the support of the Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada.

The topic of the webinar series is Soil and Habitat-Building Techniques on a Closed-System Organic Orchard and Vegetable Farm and will be featuring Helen Atthowe, an Organic Farmer, Researcher, and Extension Specialist.

In this workshop series, they will look at the evolution towards agroecology of 35-year certified organic Woodleaf Farm and 17-year organic Biodesign Farm: How Woodleaf and Biodesign Farms went from managing only crops to instead managing a web of below and above-ground ecological relationships. They will discuss the difference between “carbon farming” and “nitrogen farming” and methods to optimize soil microbial community diversity and abundance. These soil-building techniques are tied to the farm’s other strategies to minimize or eliminate off-farm material inputs, reduce, and eliminate tillage, and enhance biological control with cover-crops, living mulches, and maintaining undisturbed habitat as close to crops as possible. The happy result has been good yields of nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables with minimal labour.

Topics for the 6 Sessions are:

Session 1
January 27 (6:30-7:30 AST) – Soil Building to Eliminate Brought-In Fertility 

FREE registration required: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/soil-building-to-eliminate-brought-in-fertility-with-helen-atthowe-registration-136737207669

In this first session, you will learn from Helen how a “soil organic matter system” based on the ten ecological principles for managing relationships rather than just crops can be created. You will learn how to evolve away from tillage and off-farm materials as fertilizers. The goal is a high carbon, low-nitrogen, grow-our-own-fertilizer system using living mulches and hay mulch.

Session 2
February 3
 (6:30-7:30 AST)  – Habitat Building to Eliminate Insect & Disease Spraying 

FREE registration required: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/habitat-building-to-eliminate-insect-disease-spraying-with-helen-atthowe-registration-136864267709

In this second session, you will learn from Helen how to integrate our “soil organic matter system” into also creating habitat for biological control organisms. The goal is to maintain natural enemy abundance and diversity as close to the crops as possible.  An optimized habitat management strategy will enhance below-ground microorganisms and above-ground natural enemies that suppress crop insect and disease pests.  

Sessions 4-6 will be posted ~13 days in advance, please follow The Agriculture Campus Plant-Based Society on Eventbrite to receive notifications:

Session 3: February 10 – Living/Hay Mulches, Cover Crops & Green Manures

Session 4: February 24 – When & When Not to Till: On-Farm Research

Session 5: March 3 – Plant-Based Fertilizers as Key to Soil & Habitat-Building 

Session 6: March 10 – Techniques to Keep a Growing Root in the Soil Year-Round 
For more details click to check out the public events posted on facebook

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