Workshops & Courses

We offer workshops and courses on a wide range of topics to help you develop the wide range of skills necessary to run a successful farm – from practical production to business planning.




How to Make a Living on 1.5 Acres

Grow better not bigger!

Jean-Martin Fortier and his wife Maude-Hélène Desroches are the founders of Les Jardins de la Grelinette, a micro-farm located in Eastern Quebec, just north of the American border. Growing on just 1.5 acres, they are able to feed more than 200 families through their thriving CSA and seasonal market stands as well as supply vegetables to dozens of local establishments.

This presentation is for anyone interested in supporting small scale organic farming! Come early for the Potluck Dinner to meet urban farmers, and gardeners from across the city for a fun informal meal. This is also a great chance to meet Jean-Martin Fortier who will be signing his book The Market GardenerThe Market Gardener can be purchased at the FarmStart Store! 
Bring a dish to share.  Please RSVP for the potluck by April 20 to

Urban Aggie Potluck Dinner: 5:30pm- 7pm
Presentation: 7:30pm -9:30pm

When: Friday, April 25
Where: Center for Social Innovation, Regent Park Lounge, 585 Dundas Street East, Toronto
Cost: $30.00 (+HST) in advance, $39.82 (+HST) at the door
Register for the presentation:


Essential Tools & Techniques for the Small Scale Vegetable Grower
This workshop will give you in-depth instruction with Jean-Martin Fortier of Les Jardins de la Grelinette, his proven methods and techniques for farming smarter and better. The session will combine indoor presentation with outdoor demonstrations and lots of Q&A time.  The Market Gardener can be purchased at the FarmStart Store!
Topics will include:

  • no-till vegetable farming, precision seeders
  • how to operate a walk behind BCS tractor and rototiller
  • weed control technology
  • mulching & use of ground covers
  • labor saving tools & devices

When: Saturday, April 26
Starting at 10:00am -12:00pm at the  Holiday Inn Express Hotel Suites, 10 Nevets Rd, Brampton. View Map.
Moving at 1:00-3:30pm to the McVean Farm. View Map
Cost: $95.00 (+HST) per person or $171 (+HST) for two
To register: SOLD OUT


Weed Management for Small to Mid Scale Organic Vegetable Production
Knowing how to control weeds is one of the most important skills needed for successful organic vegetable production. Organic vegetable farming requires a diverse and very proactive approach to weed control. You can avoid the constant scramble to save crops from weeds by understanding important concepts and techniques in weed control and by having a plan in place before you put the crop in the ground. Join co-owner and manager of Cedar Down Farm CSA Jeff Boesch for discussion of the terms, concepts and techniques for weed control in organic vegetable farming.
Topics that will be covered include:

  • stale seed bed preparation,
  • cover cropping and crop rotation for weed control,
  • a large selection of hand and tractor powered weed management tools,
  • timing; weeding schedules in different crops,
  • mulching,
  • soil conditions and fertility in weed control,
  • composting for weed control,
  • weed identification,
  • and much more….

When:  Saturday May 3, 1:00-5:00pm
Where: Volunteer Hamilton, 267 King St E, Hamilton
Cost: $55.00 (+HST) per person, or $100.00 (+HST) per farm team of two people
Registration: click here to register


Food Safety for Vegetable Growers
The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, and the Ontario Ministry Rural Affairs has tailored a food safety training program especially for small to mid scale vegetable production! This workshop will help you learn what food safety programs, resources, and practices are available. You will be given tools to help you assess your present farm practices, and develop an action plan to ensure safe practices. The workshop topics will include proper hygiene and sanitation, compost, and post water harvest use. OMAF staff will give you all the information you need to help you develop a basic food safety plan that you can later use to help market your products. There will be demonstrations, and you will receive a free copy of the 3-2-1 Assessment of Your Farm Operation for Food Safety DVD!

When: Tuesday, May 13, 7:00pm-9:30pm
Where: Niagara Room, Country Heritage Park, 8560 Tremaine, Road, Milton
Cost: $25.00  (+HST) per person
Registration: click here to register


Buying A Farm: Planning Ahead for Farm Ownership
Do you have the dream of buying a farm? If so, the earlier you begin to
research and plan for it, the better! How should you begin your
search? How do you find financing? How do you make an offer? These questions and lots more will be the focus of this workshop, geared
towards first time buyers.
Topics to be covered will include:

  • Setting priorities on what to look for in a farm, and where to look
  • Financing: the process of getting approved for a mortgage, the role of a mortgage broker and the difference between a residential and agricultural mortgage
  • The process of making an offer and learning the lingo (ex: signbacks, amendments, chattels)
  • Who you need on your team (ex: mortgage broker, real estate agent, lawyer, home inspector)

This workshop will help demystify the process of purchasing a farm, and help you decide if this is the right choice for you.

When: Saturday June 7, 1:00-5:oo pm
Instructor: Tarrah Young
Location: Guelph Chamber of Commerce,
Cost: $65 (+HST) per person or $110 (+HST) for two
Registration: click here to register


The Dirt on Soil
The root of all life, including human life, is in the soil. In this workshop, learn the basics of soil science in an accessible and hands-on way.  Rather than relying on inputs for fertility, get ready for ideas on how to optimize your soil’s health, and ultimately the health of your crops, by using the biological community to unleash the tremendous potential in your soil!
Come prepared to spend time outdoors with boots, warm clothing and rain gear.

When: Saturday June 21,  12:30 -4:30 pm
Location: Ebenezer ChapelMcVean Farm, Brampton
Instructor: Ian McCormick
Cost: $65 (+HST) per person or $110 (+HST) for two
Registration: click here to register

Next Scheduled: Saturday September 20, 12:30 -4:30 pm
Location: Green Being Farm, 221788 Concession #14, RR#1 Neustadt
Instructor: Tarrah Young
Cost: $65 (+HST) per person or $110 (+HST) for two
Registration: Opens July 2014


Regular Offerings 

We strive to develop training opportunities in response to your needs. Don’t hesitate to get in touch ( if you have suggestions for workshop topics!

The following course are offered at various times through out the year.  Dates and locations will be added as announced.  Please sign up to our bulletin mailing list to be kept notified of upcoming workshops.

Crop Planning for Vegetable Growers
This workshop is based on the recent publication from Canadian Organic Growers (COG), Crop Planning for Organic Vegetable Growers, by Frédéric Thériault and Daniel Brisebois. The workshop takes an in-depth look at developing and implementing a crop plan: from setting financial goals and calculating crop quantities, to analyzing harvest and sales data for improving next year’s plan.  Activities and discussions will enable participants to better understand the process of crop planning and how it can help make their farm businesses more efficient and profitable. An absolutely essential workshop for every market gardener!
Time of year to expect next course: Winter

Introduction to Tools and Supplies for Market Garden Efficiency
Running a sustainable and efficient market garden business requires the right tools! Knowing how to use them is almost as important as knowing how to grow. Join us to discuss, share ideas and learn about tools and supplies available to the small market gardener, from hoes and seeders, to row cover and harvest bins.
Time of year to expect next course: Early Spring

Introduction to Pastured Poultry
Join us for this very popular workshop offered by Tarrah Young from Green Being Farm. Tarrah, who raises chickens and turkeys on pasture, will explain her system from day-old chicks and poults to the finished product. Topics to be covered include brooder design, feed requirements, bird health, marketing, and calculating sale prices based on the cost of production.
Cost: $95 (+HST) per person or $171 (+HST) for two
Next Scheduled: July 12, 2014, 9:30am – 4:30pm
Registration: Opens May 2014

Introduction to Pastured Pigs
Join Tarrah Young of Green Being Farm as she shares lessons from her own experiences raising heritage pigs on pasture, as well as innovative and valuable information gleaned from research abroad. Topics to be covered include feeding and grazing options, natural health care, farrowing, breed selection, processing, marketing and economics.  Plus, get a chance to meet some of the first Kune Kunes in Canada, a small, rare breed of pig able to fatten on forages alone – the true enviro-pig!
Cost: $95 (+HST) per person or $171 (+HST) for two
Next Scheduled: September 13, 2014, 9:30am – 4:30pm
Registration: Opens May 2014

Please note: There are no cash refunds for workshops, which require preregistration. Registrants who give a minimum 72 hours notice of a cancellation will receive a voucher in the amount of the workshop fee paid, less a 15% administrative fee. The voucher can be applied to any other FarmStart workshop, course or farm tour. Vouchers must be redeemed within one year (12 months) of the date of the cancellation.


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