Build Your Ag Skills

Agricultural Skills Course, Spring/Summer 2022

Ag Skills provides a season of hands-on learning for beginning farmers. From building soil to harvest and packing, each class focuses on tangible skills necessary for farming success in the foothills.  Peer-to-peer classes are taught on-farm, by farmers and each includes a farm tour.   Ag Skills courses are geared towards commercial farmers and are a great way to network within the farming community and hone your farming skillset.  

Live interpretation available for Spanish speakers! Los hispanohablantes monolingües pueden participar gratuitamente – use el código promocional GRATIS. Para traducir este sitio de web al español, utilice la opción del menu abajo de esta página. 

Classes are Tuesdays 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. from May 17th to August 23rd, 2022. 
 $22/class, 7-class bundle for $20/class,  or $18/class for the entire course! 

Scholarships available!  BIPOC, LGBTQI+, veteran, women farmers and farmer workers encouraged to follow this link and apply.  Email with questions.


2022 Ag Skills Calendar

Producing high quality plants from seeds and cuttings is a critical component of farm success. Build your plant propagation skill set in this interactive class and learn more about potting soil mix, greenhouse management from seed to field, and how to grow plants from cuttings and divisions.

Learn to identify the right time and the best methods for preparing your fields for successful plant growth and weed management, including choosing the right primary & secondary tillage methods and tools, applying amendments, and shaping beds. Properly prepping your fields can mitigate weed pressure and promote crop success.

Understanding and improving foothill soils – Learn about foothill soils, how to determine your soil texture by feel; the importance of soil analysis and how to take soil samples;  how to improve soil fertility over time using amendments and the amazing properties of soil organic matter.

During the hot summers of the foothills, proper crop irrigation can make the difference between success and failure. In-depth look at field-scale irrigation systems and a discussion of the ideal types of irrigation for specific crops. And maybe a discussion on fencing too!

One of the biggest challenges facing all farmers is crop planning.  Aleta and Rob will present approaches and scheduling solutions they have developed over the years, as well as ideas they have discovered through interviews and research with other farmers.  

What is the foundation of a sustainable farm? How can we produce more from the resources of the land and import less? Tim’s class will take a close look at First Rain Farm’s approach to integrated land management and farming through our livestock, forestry, fruit and vegetable operations. He will share how these aspects of the farm are interconnected and how they support one another including more about their land stewardship program using goats and prescribed fire to restore forested lands.

Dan Macon is a partner in Flying Mule Sheep Company and has operated a commercial, range/pasture-based sheep business in Placer and Nevada Counties for 16 years. This course will provide an overview of mobile grazing systems and grazing management, with hands-on activities focused on estimating grazing capacity and setting up electric fencing.

Whether you host bees from a local apiary on your farm or decide to have your own hive, honey bees add ecosystem services and valuable products to a diversified farming system. Join Cameron Redford, owner of Black Sierra Honey Co. for an introductory class on getting started with bees in the foothills.

Growing cut flowers and making beautiful arrangements. Class will focus on varietal selections and maximizing your farm to support a diverse array of plants to harvest from for your designs year round. We will also dip into marketing and propagation and will have a floral design tutorial.

Cucurbits (cucumbers, melons, summer squash, winter squash) and Solanums (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and potatoes) are summer staples on almost every table. In this class Antonio will show you the ways they have found to create beautiful and bountiful crops from these plants on their farm. You will learn about cover fertility, trellising, and harvesting among other topics. 

Learn from the best compost makers in the land!  Marney and Lisa will share the basics of Biodynamics and explain the secrets of creating high quality compost on a large scale at Soil Sisters Farm.

Learn great post-harvest handling of vegetable crops to improve the quality and safety of farm produce. Learn what farmers can do to maximize the quality, freshness, and shelf life of farm harvests including harvest tips, packing shed design, cold storage, and packaging.

Tour Kathi’s landscaped herb farm, see which herbs can be produced here in Nevada County, how to process & handle them, and how to determine what to grow and find a market.

See a small, diversified farm in action. Leo will introduce us to a farm system that integrates animals into a low-till fruit and vegetable system that includes Hugelkulter, swales, and perennials.  If it can be grown in Nevada County, Leo has grown it!  Leo co-founded the Living Lands Agrarian Network and as a true local agricultural hero, has much wisdom to offer.

Come learn the myco-remediation potential of oyster mushrooms with MushBarn! Get to know oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus spp.) and understand how to inoculate on a variety of substrates while bringing homegrown mushrooms into your kitchen. Together we will explore substrate selection, inoculation methods, and fruiting for oysters as well as regenerative mycological theory and the many ways we can integrate Fungi into our lives!


“It was so inspirational to see the local farms in action. As a result of all I’ve learned in this series
I’m going to be planting flowers for beneficial insects and for cutting, testing my soil,
and trying out no-till next season!” 2021 Ag Skills student.


Note:  Sierra Harvest will be following COVID protocols mandated by the state health department.

Farm & Ranch Jobs in Nevada County           

Looking for a job in agriculture? Send an email to to get announcements about farm and ranch jobs in Nevada County.  

Looking to hire a farmworker for your farm or ranch?  Send an email to to get a list of interested folks, be listed on our job posting site, and have your post included in our farmer E-news.