WOODSTOCK, VERMONT… Sustainability and self-reliance are not just buzz words at Billings Farm & Museum. This season’s Billings Backyard Series offers a diverse line up of workshops for adults interested in gaining new skills for sustainable living. From techniques in thrifty and smart cooking, to innovative ways to dye yarn, caring for bees and creating natural holiday décor, each class provides practical lessons for everyday use.
The Series kicks off with “Use the Whole Chicken” with Chef Emery Gray on Saturday, May 14 from 10AM – 11:30PM, followed by 30-minute Q & A. From roasted chicken to soul-soothing chicken broth, Farm to Table Manager, Chef Emery Gray will teach techniques to break down the bird for cooking or freezing and make a delicious broth from food scraps. Participants can save money, cut down on food waste, and savor the tasty results. This class takes place live on Zoom. Registration closes at 3PM on May 13.
The Series continues with these onsite workshops:
“Hand-Dyed Yarn” with Tiana St. James on Saturday, July 9, 10AM – 11:30AM, followed by 30-minute Q & A. From the basics in hand dyeing to exploratory coloring, this fun, hands-on series will investigate an array of dyeing techniques. Using methods with weak acid, natural materials, and even kool-aid dyes, participants will watch yarn transform. Students will leave the workshop with three hand-dyed “mini-skeins” of yarn to use in their own projects.
“Late Season Pollinator Care and Beekeeping” with Troy Hall on Saturday, August 20, 10AM – 11:30AM, followed by 30-minute Q & A. For the curious backyard beekeepers and enthusiasts, beekeeper Troy Hall will provide an overview of beekeeping fundamentals including basic equipment and hive management, with a focus on preserving and establishing spaces for bees and pollinators.
“Canning & Preserving Your Garden Bounty” with Chef Emery Gray on Saturday, September 24, 10AM – 11:30AM, followed by 30-minute Q & A. During harvest season, this is an opportunity to capture the freshness and beauty of the garden to enjoy year-round. Chef Emery will share different techniques of safely preserving food through drying and freezing. Students will learn to make applesauce and use the water bath method in the canning process.
“Natural Decorations” with Ben Pauly on Saturday, November 12, 10AM – 11:30AM, followed by 30-minute Q & A. As holiday decorations are pulled from storage, and dusted off, participants can ditch the plastic décor in favor of sustainable and “evergreen” alternatives. Ben Pauly, Creative Director of Landscape Design at the Woodstock Inn & Resort, will share his creativity and knowledge along with his favorite natural materials for decorating. Each participant will have a chance to make a natural decoration and bring home some sustainable cheer.
“Cozy Stews & Breads” with Chef Emery Gray on Saturday, January 7, 10AM – 11:30AM, followed by 30-minute Q & A. There is nothing better than a warm, homemade stew with fresh bread in the winter. Chef Emery will demonstrate delicious ways to use preserved vegetables and herbs in a creative and cozy meal, including stew and a no-knead loaf of bread.
Billings Backyard is a series of workshops designed to teach sustainable living skills to adult participants and is underwritten by a generous grant from the SpringRiver Private Foundation Trust. Each workshop includes hands-on demonstrations and concrete steps for incorporating these skills into everyday life. All sessions are $15/person, $10/member. Registration and course details are at billingsfarm.org/billings-backyard/