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Living in the Garden

Tending the Plants of the Mid-Atlantic Piedmont

a 10-week Spring class

March- May 2022

Southern York County, PA

Instructors: Zach Elfers & Victoria Greba

This course is full & no longer accepting applications. 

10 class days (80 hr course)

Meets once weekly for 10 Saturdays (Mar 26, Apr 2, Apr 9, Apr 16, Apr 23, Apr 30, May 7, May 14, May 21, May 28)


9am- 5pm

*In the event of passing rain showers, Saturday classes will still take place & will include some indoor class time. 

In the event of severe weather, a Saturday class may be rescheduled for one of the following dates:

Inclement Weather Dates: Sunday Apr 3, Sunday, May 1, Sunday May 29

About the course:

Come witness the unfolding of Spring from a plant-centered perspective. Meet and gain intimacy with the spectrum of bioregional plants of the mid-Atlantic Piedmont – their gathering, storage, propagation, and stewardship, in a small, mentorship-oriented group. By slowing down and falling into the quiet pace of working together hands-on over extended class hours, we’ll learn the ecology, growth cycles, history, diversity, and ethnobotany of the plants we encounter, learning through deep observation. Through a combination of conversation and in-the-field exploration, solo observation time and group practice, you can expect to learn plant ID skills and a foundation in botany and taxonomy; food plant gathering, preparation, and cooking; plant propagation; medicinal plants; fiber plants; and an understanding of some of the ancestral & indigenous history and context of the land. 


By deepening connections to the plants and the webworks of ecology, we become a thread in the great weaving of the land and bioregion. Here we find belonging, enmeshed in a subsistence lifeway capable of nourishing and supporting us and all the land’s inhabitants, beyond mere salad greens and nibbles.

Root Foods

Tree Ecology

Spring Ephemerals

Leafy Greens & Shoots

Medicinal Plants

Fiber Arts & Crafts

Food Preparation & Cooking By Fire

Plant Food Preservation

Regenerative Harvest Practices

Tended Landscapes & Cultural Landscapes

Symbiotic Interactions & Lifeways of Reciprocity

Bioregional Plant Foods & Their Terroir

Basic Botany & Taxonomy


Ethnobotany & Ethnoecology

Plant Propagation Basics

Soil Biology Principles

Fire Ecology Foundations

Nature Observation Practices

Class Details:

Course enrollment goal is 8 participants 

Class days will take place almost entirely outdoors, in varying landscapes and local ecologies. During a typical class day, we may be walking and hiking for up to several hours of the day, on uneven terrain in natural settings including woodlands, meadows, sandy beaches, or rocky, wet areas. Each day, the beginning, the mid-day lunch break, and the end of class will take place at a rustic outdoor circle with a central hearth fire. We will break for a communal lunch prepared and cooked from what we gather. Expect to be digging and washing roots, chopping and boiling shoots, collecting seeds, and learning to cook by fire. Participants are encouraged to communicate their needs, pace themselves, or take breaks throughout the day as necessary.

Lunches are group potluck style, and are supplemented by the plants we gather & prepare that day.

Some class days may include visits from local guest teachers.


The fee for the 80 hour, 10 week course is $960. (or $100 for single drop in-classes if space is available).


This course is offered fully as a gift economy. This means you pay what you are able (which could be above, at, or below the course fee), and payment is not required in order to attend the course.

More info about gift economy:

The purpose of the gift economy is to create access to this course for those for whom the full course tuition would mean financial hardship and a barrier to learning. In particular we are recognizing black, indigenous, people of color (Bipoc), LGBTQIA, non-land/home owning, single parents, individuals with disabilities, and other individuals with social or economic barriers to access.

The course fee is the true value of the course required for it to run. By paying tuition at the course value, you are supporting the running of this program. By paying above the course value, you are, in addition, also supporting access for other individuals to take this course who might not be able to otherwise. Payment plans are also available.   

For more information about understanding gift economy & the sliding scale payment system, click this resource

The Instructors:

Zach Elfers

woodland ecologies 

starchy staple roots

fire ecology

swiddening agriculture

native plant propagation & stewardship


Victoria Greba (aka Lyrra Magda)

edge & disturbance ecologies

 non-native plants

bioregional fiber, tanning, & other material arts

cooking & preservation

How to apply to take this class:

To help us and you better understand whether this course is right for you, please answer the following questions and email them to

1. What are your reasons for wanting to participate in this course?

2. What are you hoping to learn or accomplish over the 10 weeks?

3. What background or experience, if any, do you have in botany, gardening, farming, herbalism, ethnobotany, permaculture, wild plant foods, nature craftwork, ancestral skills, or mycology (*prior experience is not necessary)?

4. Are you able to attend all the scheduled class days?

5. Do you have any questions for us?

The Location

This course takes place on a historic property adjacent the lower Susquehanna River. The property shares a border with the Conowingo Ponds Preserve on one side, and the Mason-Dixon trail on the other. The surrounding river hills boast a wide diversity of riparian and terrestrial habitats, and dramatic geological scenery. The Lower Susquehanna River region is recognized as an exceptional illustration of the piedmont bioregion. On the property rests a 215-year-old farmhouse, including bathroom facilities, kitchen, and fresh well water. Friday and Saturday evening camping is welcomed. Located an approximately one-hour drive north of Baltimore, a half hour south of York, and a half hour southwest of Lancaster.

Covid Protocol:

This course takes place predominantly outdoors, in a small group setting, and involves a great deal of close interaction, group work & discussion, and the processing of plant materials together.

We expect that everyone involved in this program arrives with a commitment to respect and care for the wellbeing of each person in the group – physical, mental, and emotional – including supporting each other's needs around covid safety. If you know that you have been exposed to covid positive individuals, have yourself tested positive, or experience symptoms, we ask that you please respect the wellbeing of the group by not coming to class that day. We ask as well that you do not engage in behavior outside of class that could put class participants at undue risk. We are not requiring that participants wear masks or be vaccinated.

Due to the small size of this course, individual needs and concerns are welcomed for discussion, to potentially find solutions or compromises that work for the whole group. 

All of this notwithstanding, we recognize and ask that all those seeking to become involved in this program recognize that there is a degree of risk inherent to this in-person learning experience. We encourage you to tell us your needs, and to do whatever personal practices (such as masks & distancing) you feel are needed for your own wellbeing.

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