Productive Vegetable Gardening - Masterclass series

Bookings are now open for Productive Vegetable Gardening - Masterclass series for backyard and small scale market gardeners in Moruya, started in September 2023.

This masterclass series is a deep dive that takes you from an introduction to organic market gardening through to harvesting and post harvest care, and are ideal for all gardeners – backyard gardeners who want to take their knowledge to the next level, through to small-scale market gardeners aiming to increase production using sustainable organic practices.  Learn relevant, useful and practical skills.

Enrol in the masterclass series (all five lessons) at a discounted price, or book into one or a few (details below). 

Topics covered

  1. Introduction to organic market gardening - enterprise planning and practical garden design (2 days)
    - Friday 22 and Saturday 23 September  COMPLETED
  2. Working in the field - bed preparation, plant management and maintenance (2 days)
    - Friday 6 and Saturday 7 October
  3. Plant propagation (1 day) - Friday 27 October
  4. Irrigation (1 day) - Friday 10 November
  5. Harvesting and post harvest care (1 day) - Friday 8 December

Each day in the masterclass series will run for a full day from 9am - 4pm and are held at the SAGE Garden and Stepping Stone Farm in Moruya. Presented by Joyce Wilkie - SAGE Stepping Stone Farm educator and manager, Fraser Bayley - Old Mill Road BioFarm, and Alison Walsh - SAGE educator and home gardener.

Our aim is to support and encourage the success of potential and existing gardeners and small-scale growers. 


Lesson 1: Introduction to organic market gardening – Enterprise planning and organic choices (2 days)  COMPLETED
– Friday 22 and Saturday 23 September 2023 
We start the masterclass series by taking a deep dive into planning and designing for success. Topic covered * Key principles of organic farming * Successful production models * Farm/Garden design overview * Start work on your own enterprise * What, when and how much to plant * Planning and scheduling for success * How to design a crop rotation.

    Lesson 2: Working in the field – Bed preparation, plant management and maintenance (2 days) 
    – Friday 6 and Saturday 7 October 2023
    Getting into the garden and getting dirty is where the action begins.  

    • Bed and soil preparation.
    • Tools and machinery – Hand tools, walk behind tractor and 4-wheeled tractor – looking at the pros and cons and scalability.
    • Techniques for enhancing and maintaining fertility – Green manures, no dig solutions, incorporating animals in the system.
    • Seed and seedlings – transplanting, direct seeding, using a paperpot planter
    • Maintenance – how to take care of your crop to make it to harvest.
    • Time efficient methods – weeding and feeding, using tools specific to scale and purpose.

    Lesson 3: Plant propagation (1 day)  Friday 27 October 2023
    Propagating your own plants allows you to choose the type and variety, and can be cost effective.

    • Infrastructure requirements to optimise production.
    • Creating the perfect potting mediums.
    • Techniques such as seed blocking, paperpot planting and using commercially available trays and pots.
    • Direct seeding.
    • Care of seeds and seedlings.
    • Timing to optimise production.
    • Problem solving.

    Lesson 4: Irrigation (1 day)  – Friday 10 November 2023
    Watering is essential to the success of your garden – getting it right from the start saves a huge amount of time, money and heartbreak.

    • Water rights and allocation.
    • Getting water from the source to the field.
    • Design of your irrigation system – using drippers and sprinklers.
    • Automation of your system.
    • Monitoring soil moisture.

    Lesson 5: Harvesting and post harvest care (1 day)  – Friday 8 December
    This one day masterclass will teach you the best harvesting techniques and how to get your harvest to market or table.

    • Equipment used to harvest and look after the plants.
    • Techniques to maximise efficiencies.
    • Timing and digging into the specifics for various crops – roots, fruiting vegetables and leafy greens.
    • How to get your product to the market or the table in top condition.

    Location: SAGE Garden and Stepping Stone Farm, Moruya – Participants will be using the commercial beds as a template on which to explore and develop their skills so they can adapt them to their own circumstances or enterprise.

    Time:  9am – 4 pm

    Catering: Lunch, morning and afternoon tea are provided for each day of these workshops.

    Costs: 2 day lessons - $400 (SAGE Member $350) 
                1 day lessons - $220 (SAGE Member $200)
                Enrol in all five lessons for only $1,190 (SAGE Member).
    All lessons include notes, morning tea and a delicious lunch of seasonal local produce.


    More information
    Stepping Stone Farm (SSF)
    is a purpose-built training farm with an education program for training aspiring market gardeners. Joyce Wilkie and the team from Stepping Stone Farm have developed an immersive and experiential series of lessons to provide people with the skills and knowledge, tips and tricks to grow seriously great vegetables.

    Stepping Stone Farm was created by SAGE NSW Inc, a not for profit volunteer managed organisation dedicated to building resilient local food systems through ‘growing the growers’ and educating aspiring market gardeners to develop viable commercial enterprises.  Educator and Farm Manager Joyce Wilkie brings more than 40 years’ experience to the program and will short cut your journey to growing food efficiently and economically and show you how to avoid costly and time-consuming mistakes on your land. 

    About the presenters
    Joyce Wilkie – currently manages Stepping Stone Farm and mentors both the interns and volunteers. Trained as scientists she and Michael Plane changed direction 35 years ago and turned ‘Allsun’, a bush block near Gundaroo, NSW, into a small diverse organic farm selling vegetables, fruit, eggs and pork into Canberra. She is now using her years of experience in production and teaching to turn Stepping Stone Farm from a grassy paddock into a viable market garden making sure that the intern and volunteer team members learn as much as possible about the many ways to successfully grow organic vegetables.

    Fraser Bayley– Old Mill Road BioFarm, a small farming enterprise that aims to enrich local food culture, encourage more small scale farmers and connect those farmers to the consumer. They have developed their farm over the years using sustainable farming practices and sell their chemical free produce at SAGE Farmers Market every week.

    Alison Walsh – an experienced and passionate home grower, with a lifelong love of growing food and feeding people. Her wealth of knowledge is seen in the quality of the food she grows. Using natural growing techniques, and a plan, Alison has a constant supply of food that feeds three neighbouring families regularly, with an abundance for the frequent visitors and for preserving. Alison’s been involved with SAGE from the start and currently works as a volunteer to support the SAGE Stepping Stone Farm Education Facility. We are fortunate to have other successful local growers and they will be joining in to offer some great tips and techniques along the way.


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