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How Does Your Homestead Grow?

by Cory Marie Podielski on May 5, 2015

in Featured Classes, In the Garden


As lush greenery is filling in the landscape, many of us are planning and planting our home gardens. This summer we are offering four great Weekend Classes that will help you to expand and grow your gardens. A new class by local farmer Jen Stockbridge of Stockbridge Farms in Andrews, NC, will teach you all about chickens with an emphasis on egg production. Local turmeric and ginger maven, Karen Hurtubise of Qualla Berry Farm, knows a thing or two about tomatoes as she returns with her popular class all about growing great tomatoes. Kate Hanford is the manager of the popular farmer’s market in Ashville (West Asheville Tailgate Market). She will teach us all about the glory of earthworms, active soil, and how important compost is to garden success. Finally, Ken Zinkand returns with his popular class to teach all about how to grow your own Shiitake, Oyster, and Reishi mushrooms. Student will leave with three inoculated logs to get you started right!

Learn more details about these exciting classes Gardening & Homesteading classes upcoming this summer 2015:

tomatoesGrowing Great Tomatoes

Karen Hurtubise • May 22-24, 2015 (Weekend)

Produce your best-ever, home-grown tomatoes! From Sungold cherry tomatoes and heirloom Brandywines to Italian Tree tomatoes, we’ll explore the timing, colors, size, and flavors of favorite varieties while practicing organic gardening skills of soil prep, seed selection, pruning, fertilizing, trellising, pest and disease control, and harvesting. Also learn about many kinds of basils. Use companion planting techniques to create a patio container or hanging basket of tomatoes, basil, and marigolds to take home. Average garden mobility needed. Register.

Earthworm_divesVermiculture – Homegrown Earthworms

Katherine Hanford • June 12-14, 2015 (Weekend)

One of the most important components of a successful garden is healthy, biologically active soil! How can you bring your soil to life? With black gold! That’s right, vermiculture – composting with worms. Learn how to set up a home vermicomposting system, care for your worms, harvest, and use the castings from your bin. We will also explore large-scale systems for the farm or commercial endeavors. Gardeners of all levels welcome. Register.

Chicken_eggsHomestead Egg Production

Jen Stockbridge • July 31-Aug 2, 2015 (Weekend)

Are you interested in keeping a flock of fowl? Come learn the ins and outs of homestead chicken keeping, with an emphasis on egg production. Discover how to do this in thrifty fashion, using recycled materials to make chicken equipment – waterers, feeders, and nest boxes – some available to take home. All levels welcome. Register.

Lentinula_edodesGrowing Your Own Mushrooms

Ken Zinkand • July 31-Aug 2, 2015 (Weekend)

Join us for an interactive class on gourmet and medicinal mushroom cultivation, emphasizing a hands-on approach. Learn inoculation techniques and strategies for maximizing yields as you work with three select mushroom strains – Shiitake, Oyster, and Reishi. Wild gathering, harvesting medicinals, drying, and cooking tips will also be discussed. Each student will leave with three inoculated logs (be prepared to transport). No experience required, only moderate hand strength. Register.



A big congratulations to Brasstown artist Lynda Metcalfe for being the recipient of a NOMMA (National Ornamental and Miscellaneous Metals Association) Top Job 2015 Silver Award. She received the honor for creating an impressive railing for the Lost Hollow Children’s Garden at the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden near Charlotte, NC. I was delighted to sit down with Lynda and learn about this exciting project and what it’s like to be a local artist in the Folk School Community. Enjoy our interview!

The railing in the

The award-winning railing at the Lost Hollow Children’s Garden

CP: Congratulations on your recent award! Can you tell me about the project?

LM: Of course! The award was for a 30 ft. long railing that I designed with landscape architect W. Gary Smith and it is for the new Lost Hollow Children’s Garden at the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden in Belmont. This part of the botanical garden is a whole new area, and up until then, had been an unused piece of land. It has lovely terrain and has been transformed into a fable-like children’s environment. The railings I contributed were functionally needed as guard rails as part of a balcony, but the space is a feature point and will also be used for celebrations, so the landscape architect wanted an extra special artistic touch. My 30 ft. went in between two other longer section of plain railing. I just did the sparkly bit in the middle.

CP: Tell me about the award.

Railing detail

Center piece of the railing

LM: The awarding body is the National Ornamental & Miscellaneous Metals Association (NOMMA) and they have a yearly trade show and conference where they give out annual awards. We got the Top Job 2015 Silver Award in the exterior forged railings category. Considering we were a small outfit (basically a pair of artists working together) competing nationally against every other ironwork company and artist out there, it very exciting to receive this award at that level especially when you have companies of enormous difference competing.

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Learn How to Play Nice Together

by Cory Marie Podielski on April 28, 2015

in Featured Classes, Music & Dance

I secretly took this video perched on the second floor of the Blacksmith Shop on a pretty typical evening at the Folk School. Who are these folks? A new hot old time band? A group of old friends playing from a chosen repertoire? Nope. They are a group of students, instructors, and Folk School folks who heard the word at dinner that a music jam was happening that night in the Blacksmith Shop. I am sure that this particular group had never all played together previously and have never practiced this tune as a group.

Observe, below, jammers in their natural habitat:

OFM027HYou might ask: How can this be? How can the tune sound so good? This is the magic of a jam! Musicians of all levels can come together to play music and create magic. You can find string/acoustic jams all over the place, not just at the Folk School. From small towns to large urban cities, there are thriving jam communities all over the map. There is most likely one in your area too.

Jams are a fun and unique way to connect and communicate with other musicians. It may seem intimidating to jump in and join the group, especially if you don’t know the tune. The Folk School is offering a great line-up of classes to get you playing well with others. Gain confidence to join in jams, learn about keys, tunings and chord changes, and understand etiquette. Take a class focused on playing with other musicians, and soon you’ll be jamming with confidence!

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Susan, Able, and John work on a bench design.

Susan, Able, and John work on a bench design. Photo by Julie Clark.

Blacksmith Work Week is an annual tradition at the Folk School where skilled blacksmiths come for a week and volunteer their time to do projects around campus and make improvements in the Clay Spencer Blacksmith Shop. I talked to Paul Garrett, the Folk School’s Resident Blacksmith, about this year’s Blacksmith Work Week (March 29-April 4, 2015).

Susan & Paul

Susan & Paul. Photo by Julie Clark.

CP: How was Blacksmith Work Week this year?

PG: It was really good. We had a great group of almost 20 people. Everyone had great projects to work on and all went home happy.

CP: One of the new installations is the railing on the back of the Festival Barn Stage. Can you tell us about that design and process?

PG: We wanted to make a simple railing to free up the view to the woods behind the stage. A lot of people have good memories of sitting in the barn and looking out at the woods behind the music and the temporary wooden railing blocked up the view. We replaced it with thin metal posts and horizontal railing so it’s more pleasant to look through. The center panel is going to be a leafless tree. The posts arch outward from the center where the tree will be, so it looks like the trunk is pushing them out.

Blacksmith Work Week volunteers stand behind the newly installed Festival Barn Stage railing.

Blacksmith Work Week volunteers stand behind the newly installed Festival Barn Stage railing. Photo by Julie Clark.

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A Family Affair at the Folk School

by Cory Marie Podielski on April 7, 2015

in Folk School Visitors, New & Noteworthy

The Folk School recently had a very special group visit. To celebrate their 60th Wedding Anniversary, Dr. Fred and Mrs. Martha U. Goldner of Nashville, TN, decided to return to the Folk School and this time they brought their family and several friends to join in the fun!

(Front Row) Dr. Fred & Mrs. Martha U. Goldner (Second Row L. to R.) Hannah Niederman, Francie Niederman, Natalie Niederman, Fredjoseph Goldner, (Third Row L. to R.) Cynthia Goldner, Aaron Niederman, Michael Niederman, Sana Singh, Prash Singh, and Julian Goldner.

(Front Row) Dr. Fred & Mrs. Martha U. Goldner (Second Row L. to R.) Hannah Niederman, Francie Niederman, Natalie Niederman, Fredjoseph Goldner, (Third Row L. to R.) Cynthia Goldner, Aaron Niederman, Michael Niederman, Sana Singh, Prash Singh, and Julian Goldner.

Aaron Niederman plans his Blacksmithing project with instructor Ron Nichols.

Aaron Niederman plans his Blacksmithing project with instructor Ron Nichols.

While Fred & Martha toasted their 60th, one of their two daughters, Francie Niederman, of Skokie, IL, also celebrated her 20th anniversary with her husband Michael. Three generations of family members and their friends came to the Folk School to take a variety of Weekend classes including: Blacksmithing, Jewelry, Enameling, Drawing, Woodturning, and Woodworking. Creativity seems to run in the family. Their daughter, Cynthia, promotes her innovative art at Makin Time Clocks and their grandson, Julian, was a Silver Medalist in the most recent Scholastic Art Awards Competition.

Seeing them in the studio, at our family-style meals in the Dining Hall, and at Show and Tell was delightful. They made it look like the most incredible family vacation ever. I talked with Martha about her Folk School experience and what it was like to have her family congregate in Brasstown for this very special occasion:

CP: Congratulations once again on your anniversary! Was this your first trip to the Folk School?

MG: Fred and I had a previous experience at JCCFS around the same time of year in 2011. We took Bistro Cooking and Fiber Arts & Knitting.

Francie learns a jewelry technique from Kay Patterson.

Francie learns a jewelry technique from Kay Patterson.

CP: What made you decide to pick the Folk School as a destination for your anniversary celebration?

MG: We identified our anniversary celebration with family. A weekend of the exact dates was in the catalogue and it was a perfect place away from everyone’s usual environment. A place of unknown demands on them, yet programmed for each one to be surprised and inspired.

CP: How many of your family members congregated at the Folk School? Who came from the furthest destination?

MG: Of the twelve members there were three couples. Our son came from San Jose, Costa Rica.

CP: How did you decide what classes to take?

MG: When the idea was hatched we distributed the outline and description of what was available so they quickly made choices before the classes filled up.

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