Saturday, May 14 at 10 a.m. — WOODSTOCK — Sustainability and self-sufficiency aren’t just buzzwords at Billings Farm & Museum. This season’s Billings Backyard series offers a diverse range of workshops for adults interested in learning new skills for sustainable living. From thrifty and smart cooking techniques to innovative ways to dye yarn, care for bees, and create natural holiday decor, each class offers practical lessons for everyday use.
The series kicks off with “Use the Whole Chicken” with Chef Emery Gray on Saturday, May 14 from 10-11:30 a.m., followed by 30 minutes of Q&A. From Roast Chicken to Soothing Farm-to-Table Chicken Broth Director, Chef Emery Gray, will teach techniques for breaking down the bird for cooking or freezing and making delicious broth from leftover food. Participants can save money, reduce food waste and enjoy the tasty results. This course takes place live on Zoom. Closing of registrations on May 13 at 3 p.m.
The series continues with these on-site workshops: “Hand-Dyed Yarn” with Tiana St. James on Saturday, July 9, from 10-11:30 a.m., followed by 30 minutes of Q&A. From the basics of hand dyeing to exploratory coloring, this fun and hands-on series will explore a range of dyeing techniques. Using weak acid methods, natural materials, and even kool-aid dyes, participants will observe the transformation of yarn. Students will leave the studio with three “mini skeins” of hand-dyed yarn to use in their own projects.
“Pollinator Care and Late-Season Beekeeping” with Troy Hall on Saturday, August 20, 10-11:30 a.m., followed by a 30-minute Q&A. For curious and avid beekeepers, beekeeper Troy Hall will provide an overview of beekeeping fundamentals, including basic equipment and hive management, with a focus on preserving and establishing beekeepers. spaces for bees and pollinators.
“Canning & Preserving Your Garden Bounty” with Chef Emery Gray on Saturday, September 24, 10-11:30 a.m., followed by 30 minutes of Q&A. During harvest season, it’s an opportunity to capture the freshness and beauty of the garden to enjoy all year round. Chef Emery will share different techniques for safely preserving food by drying and freezing. Students will learn how to make applesauce and how to use the double boiler method in the canning process.
“Natural Decorations” with Ben Pauly on Saturday, November 12, from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., followed by a 30-minute question-and-answer session. As holiday decorations are removed from storage and dusted off, attendees can ditch the plastic decor in favor of sustainable, “evergreen” alternatives. Ben Pauly, Creative Director of Landscaping at Woodstock Inn & Resort, will share his creativity and knowledge as well as his favorite natural materials for decorating. Each participant will have the chance to create a natural decoration and bring home a lasting atmosphere.
“Cozy Stews & Breads” with Chef Emery Gray on Saturday, January 7, 10-11:30 a.m., followed by a 30-minute Q&A. There’s nothing better than a hot, homemade stew with fresh bread in the winter. Chef Emery will show you delicious ways to use canned vegetables and herbs in a creative and hearty meal, including a stew and a loaf of no-knead bread.
Billings Backyard is a series of workshops designed to teach sustainable life skills to adult participants and is backed by a generous grant from the SpringRiver Private Foundation Trust. Each workshop includes practical demonstrations and concrete steps to integrate these skills into daily life. All sessions are $15/person, $10/member. Registration and course details are available at billingsfarm.org/billings-backyard.