Newsletter Feb 2017

IUH New Website and Spring Schedule Online and Open for Registration!
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It sure is wet outside, but we have a shiny new website and full schedule of classes to share with you...
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Hi there, everyone!

Becca, your new administrative director of IUH, here. I am excited and honored to follow in Ruby's footsteps organizing the schedule and keeping the school going. We have nearly 40 great classes coming up this Spring, including many familiar offerings plus a number of new classes as well. Thanks for your patience and support through the transition- we are ready to kick off a great Late Winter/Spring season with you!

In the last month, we've been blessed with more rain than the Bay Area has seen for a very long time.  The ground is soft, paws are muddy, snails are everywhere, and green shoots and patches of color are emerging as the garden prepares for Spring. The days are getting longer and the chickens are starting to lay more (mud-streaked) eggs again as they forage in backyard puddles.

February is the time to finish pruning your perennials and to start seeds indoors of warm season crops (like tomatoes and peppers) so they can have 4 - 8 weeks of growth before moving outside. Speaking of snails... here are some natural deterrents for keeping these slow-moving but persistent pests out of the garden during this rainy season:

  • Sprinkling diatomaceous earth, reapplied often (as it gets deactivated when wet), or crushed eggshells around the garden.
  • Using beer traps- bury a jar, can, or cup so the opening is flush to the ground and fill most of the way with beer (which both attracts and drowns snails).
  • Planting rosemary or thyme nearby.
  • Mixing seaweed into the top layer of the soil. 

Meanwhile, Bay Area homesteaders are wondering when they will be able to register for Spring classes at IUH... and I can't thank you enough for your patience.  The new website is finally live! Please update your bookmarks and head on over to check out the Spring lineup of classes at our new site:

HomesteadingInstitute.com
How to use the new IUH website:
  • Browse classes by date or by topic.
  • We still have our sliding scale tuition! To register for a class, click on the "Take this class" button on the class page, and you will then have a chance to enter in the amount you are able to pay from the sliding scale.You can then pay through our secure credit card system or through PayPal.
  • Registering for a class will create a student profile for you on the site. You can also create a student profile without registering for a class, and still have access to many great features on the site (including contacting other students and instructors, and participating on the public forums on the site). You can message the instructor or other students in the class- students enrolled in a class can be found on the class page (but are only visible to those registered in the class). 
  • Once you register for a class, you will have access to a private message forum visible only to the students/instructor of that class (visible on the class page or on the general forums page)- this is a great place to arrange carpools, start discussions, and keep in touch with others you meet in class.
  • Your email address/contact info will never be displayed publicly on the site for others to see, but your name will be listed in the school directory (only visible to other logged in students and instructors) and other students will be able to message you from within the site.  From your account settings, you can easily change your visible name (for example, if you don't want to display your last name), email notifications, or privacy settings so that you are not listed in the student directory at all if you prefer.

My hope is that the site will be a tool for students to stay connected, keep learning after class is over, and make our amazing Bay Area homesteading community even stronger! Feel free to explore the site and let us know what you think. You can always reach out to IUH with questions or feedback by using the form on the site's contact page, or simply by responding to this email. 
 
FOUNDER'S CORNER:
(Updates and News From K. Ruby Blume)

Hi Everyone--Wow I’m pretty impressed with the new website! How about you?  As the days get longer and Spring peaks it’s head out from behind the winter clouds it feels like IUH is finally getting its much needed  the facelift  Woo-hoo!  I am excited to be able to continue teaching. It looks like I will hold down the last weekend of the month through spring 2017.

I am slowly working towards creating  a new project in Southern Oregon, tentatively titled Rogue Ruby (school of) Reskilling:  Old World Skills for a New World Culture. Not quite ready to  announce my offerings and not sure how much I can wrangle this first year, but I will keep you posted!.  Now that the snow has melted and the days are warming up a bit, I am looking towards fencing fencing fencing!. Getting the electric fences in our pastures ready for spring grazing and getting a secure and sturdy  fence installed for our small animal area--which by the way, at  50’ x 100’  is larger than the entire space I was farming in Oakland!  For the moment if you would like to communicate with me directly you can still email me at iuh@sparkybeegirl.com. As always I welcome your questions, comments and random greetings!

Don’t miss the first classes of the year! Here's a taste of our upcoming urban homesteading classes just several weeks away.  

Coming up at the end of February, IUH Founder Ruby Blume will be down from Oregon to offer these wonderful late Winter classes.  Herbal Medicine Demystified  is a crash course in the basics of plant medicine.  We’ll learn about plant identification, plant actions, foraging and harvesting and  step-by-step hands-on practice in making tinctures and salves.  You will go home with recipes, a plant list, three tinctures, and a salve.  The following day check out two essential urban orchard classes: Learn to graft your own fruit trees and fruit salad trees in Dormant Season Fruit Tree Grafting, and get the low down on selection and installation of your urban orchard in the afternoon class Bare Root. Full descriptions below:

Herbal Medicine Demystified
2/25/17 Sat 10:00am-3:00pm, $60-100 sliding scale

This course will give you an introduction and overview of the herbal medicine making process. We’ll learn about plant constituents and actions, and get an overview of different herbal products that can be easily made at home including salves, slathers, tinctures, teas, poultices, and decoctions. We’ll learn about local sources for herbs as well as a brief introduction to harvesting, drying and storing your own. Then we’ll visit and learn about some of the medicinal plants available locally — both wild and those grown easily in the garden. While we will not go in depth on every plant (that would be a year long course), we will learn about a few useful ‘starter’ plants and go home with a sampling of remedies for common maladies. We’ll learn about useful references and how to decipher them to become more proficient and confident while purchasing, making and using herbal remedies at home.

Dormant Season Fruit Tree Grafting
2/26/17 Sun 10:00am-12:30pm, $40-80 sliding scale
Grafting is a wonderful way to make more from less in a small urban orchard and begin to explore the joy of variety in fruiting plants. In this class, we will learn and practice methods which may be used for grafting dormant scions (cuttings) onto both rootstock and mature trees. You will gain an understanding of plant propagation and the role of grafting, the basic science of grafting, which fruits are compatible, which take to grafting more readily, and tools needed. We will then get hands-on practice and each participant will go home with at least two grafted fruit trees.

Bare Root: Selecting & Planting of Your Urban Orchard
2/26/17 Sun 1:00-3:00pm, $35-75 sliding scale
Enjoy the amazing taste of fresh sun ripened fruit from your own backyard! This course will lead you through selection, planting, and general care of fruit trees and berries. Topics will include site selection, planting techniques, tricks for maximizing fruit production in small spaces, and best varieties for our East Bay climate.

These first classes of the season are just weeks away, so be sure to register now before they fill up! Then, the first week of March will follow it up with a trifecta of artisan food craft courses:
 
The Whole Pig: Community Meat Buy & Butchery
3/4/17 Sat 10:00am-2:00pm, $40-80 sliding scale + $55 meat-share
Join the Institute of Urban Homesteading’s collective-meat-buying “meatshare” party! Have you ever thought about going in on a sustainably raised, local pig with friends but didn’t know where to start? This class offers the opportunity share in the bounty of locally-sourced, pasture-raised pig from a small ranch with other students. We’ll buy a whole pig together and break it down, hands on, step by step, and then divide it up for you to take home! You’ll get a handle on the whole process start to finish. We’ll introduce you to a few local ranches that sell whole animals and teach you about hanging weight, pricing, interfacing with the butcher, different cuts and how to break down the pig yourself if you desire. Along the way, we will talk about different pork farming methods and brainstorm different projects you can do with pork cuts. The icing on the cake? You’ll go home with ten pounds of assorted cuts ranging from premium, such as pork roasts, pork belly, and pork chops, to equally delicious, affordable cuts such as ribs, shoulder, butt and pork fat.

Get Cultured: Fermenting Vegetables at Home
3/5/17 Sun 1:00-3:00pm, $35-65 sliding scale
Fermenting foods is a healthful and amazingly easy way to preserve and enhance the flavor and nutrition of food. In this class, we will learn about different types of fermentation, what the health benefits are, and how the process works. Then we’ll focus on techniques for fermenting vegetables from mixed sauerkraut to dill pickles, pickled beets to kimchi. We’ll learn foolproof folk methods and troubleshooting tips for consistent success. We’ll taste a number of finished products and then get hands-on practice making up several different fermented vegetable projects to take home.

Homemade Pasta From Scratch
3/7/17 Tues 6:30-9:30pm, $40-80 sliding scale
Learn to make pasta at home just like Italians have done for ages. The delicate flavors and textures of fresh pasta, made by hand, have no comparison. While not hard to master, making fresh pasta requires dough handling techniques that are not easily learned by reading a book; this is a craft best passed person-to-person. This class will take you all the way through from beginning to end—from flour and water to eating a tasty dish of pasta with sauce. You will learn about proper ratios of egg to flour, kneading and resting the dough, running it through the mechanical pasta press, rolling and cutting by hand, storing and cooking times, and finally, mixing with sauce.
 
Want to know what else we have in store for you this season? Check out our complete schedule at HomesteadingInstitute.com! Thanks again for your patience and support while waiting for the new website to be published. Can't wait to see you out in the garden this Spring!

Happy homesteading,

Becca Wetherby
Director, Institute of Urban Homesteading
www.HomesteadingInstitute.com
GrowFoodNotLawns@homesteadinginstitute.com
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The Institute of Urban Homesteading

Featuring small class sizes and experiential learning, IUH offers the best in Bay Area sustainability and urban farming education with classes in gardening, urban animal husbandry, food preservation, brewcraft, foraging, fermenting, and much much more!

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