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Class Descriptions

Urban Animal Husbandry
listed alphabetically

GREEN means GO These classes Are OPEN for registration
RED means STOP, THIS CLASS IS FULL contact us to get on the waiting list
GREY means NOT YET OPEN FOR REGISTRATION, please check back later.

Pre-registration is required and exact location is given once you have registered.


Many classes will repeat if there is enough interest. If a class is past or you do not get in on time,
please contact us and we will let you know if another session is forming.
Classes are for age 12 and up unless otherwise indicated.


Backyard Chickens
Saturday April 19, 2014 12noon-3pm
Saturday June 14 1pm,-4pm

Instructor: Jeannie McKenzie
Location: Montclair
$35-65 sliding scale
Fall in love with backyard chickens!
This class will introduce you to the fascinating world of backyard chickens and give you the information you need to get started with your own low-effort backyard flock. We’ll discuss life cycles, coop designs, breed selection, care and feeding for health and egg production, protection from predators and ways of integrating your chickens into your garden. You'll meet our flock, see our set-up and get hands on experience chicken wrangling. Plus we'll give you information on where to purchase your chickens and feed and resources for learning more.

Introduction to Api-Centric Beekeeping with the Kenyan Top Bar System
Sunday April 6, 2014 10am-4pm
Saturday, September 27, 2014, 10am-4pm

Location: North Oakland
Instructor: K.Ruby Blume
Cost: $55-85
sliding scale
Keeping bees is a great way to practice animal husbandry in the city, produce some local honey and stay in tune with seasonal cycles. In this course you will learn to keep bees in a way that promotes their health and natural exuberance. We'll peek inside the amazing world of this highly evolved super-organism, learn how they do what they do and what we can do to support them. You will learn about life cycles and biology, management strategies and equipment needed to get started as a backyard beekeeper using the Kenyan Top Bar Hive and how to keep bees healthy without using pharmaceuticals or other chemicals. The top bar system is an ancient, low-cost, natural system that promotes the health of the honey bee. The boxes can be easily built with a few handtools and scrap lumber and management is easy on the beekeepers body as you work standing upright and never have to lift a heavy box. The class will also include Information on the truth behind colony collapse disorder,common troubles that arise, how to get bees and where to go for continued learning. The class will culminate in a hands-on practice session working a beehive. Appropriate for those wishing to keep bees and those just curious about this magnificent insect.

Api-Centric Beekeeping One Year Mentorship
Beekeeping is both a highly entertaining and deeply spiritual practice that can keep you learning for many many years. While you can certainly get started by taking one class or reading books (both recommeded) many people experience confusion and doubt in their first years of beekeeping since the bees dont always act as expected and the information out there on how to respond is so conflicting. Having support of peers and mentors in your first years is vital.
This mentorship can start any time and lasts one year from the start date. It is highly reccommended to plan your start time to coincide with one of our Spring or Fall Intro to Backyard Beekeeping classes. The mentorship is intended to support you through your first year of beekeeping, however anyone in their first 3 years may apply. It is also intended for people who wish to learn to keep bees using alternative hive systems such as the top bar, warre or golden system. Langstroth system will be considered with consultation. The mentorship includes attendance at Intro to Backyard Beekeeping classes and Beyond the Basics Bees ,2-3 private practice sessions with our bees and your bees, emergency hourse calls when things go terribly wrong and unlimited phone and email support. Cost: Sliding scale $500-750 for the year. You must purchase/provde your own box , bees and equipment , we are glad to support you to do this as part of the mentorship.

Api-Centric Beekeeping Practicum
Saturday April 19, 2014 1pm-3pm
Saturday May 17 1:30-3:30pm
Location: North Oakland
Instructor: K.Ruby Blume
Cost: $25-45
sliding scale
Refresh and deepen your beekeeping knowledge in this practical hands-on beekeeping session. We'll take a look at the hive during population build up and nectar flow and answer your questions about management and other issues. This class is for folks who have completed an introductory course with us or at least one season of beekeeping. It is also appropriate for those who are keeping bees in the Langstroth system who would like a taste of top bar beekeeping.

Design Clinic: Natural Beekeeping
Wednesday June 11, 2014 6:30pm-9pm (date change from Thurs 6/12)
Location: North Oakland
Hos: K.Ruby Blume
sliding scale Suggested No One Turned Away for Lack of Funds
This is an evening gathering for people already keeping bees to talk about their bees and get answers to current questions and concerns in natural and top bar beekeeping. There will be a go-around, gathering of topics to address and discussion of topics of concern to the group.

Advanced Top Bar Beekeeping with Les Crowder
Location: North Oakland
Cost: $35-65
sliding scale
In this afternoon workshop we will learn how to rear queens naturally in top bar hives as well as other topics of interest to more experienced beekeepers Is there a topic that particularly interests you? Please let us know and we'll fit it onto the agenda. Les has been keeping bees for 50+ years and working with top bar hives for 30+ years. He is one of the few people who has run a commercial honey business in top bar hives and recently published, Top-bar Beekeeing: Organic Practices for Honeybee Health the first comprehensive guide to beekeeping in top bar hives (there have since been others published). Les and his bees live in New Mexico, so this is a rare opportunity to learn with him. This class is for people with several years of beekeeping experience who have a good foundation in seasonal cycles and management. It is focused for the top bar beekeeper, but other experienced beekeepers may attend.

"What's Wrong With My Chicken (Goat, Rabbit, Duck)?!!"
Home Health Care for Urban Livestock
Not Currently Offered,We wish people were as excited about this topic as we are!
Location: Berkeley
Instructor: K.Ruby Blume & Jim Montgomery
Cost: $40-75
sliding scale
All of us keeping urban livestock have, at one time or another, been faced with a sick or injured animal having no idea what to do. These situations are panic inducing and all consuming. While learning thorough health care for even any one species would be far too ambitious for this day-long course, we seek to move you from helplessness into action. This class will cover prevention, diagnosis, triage and first aid for several typical urban livestock. We’ll start with common sense preventative care, learn how to give a thorough physical, and how to use available resources to hone in on what is happening for the animal. We’ll address what general conditions you can deal with yourself, when to consider a vet's support and when to cull. Getting more specific, we’ll give an overview of common ailments for urban livestock (goats, rabbits, chickens )and what to do when you encounter them. We will also point out overlap with dogs and cats where we can. Following this we will discuss basic first aid , medications & calculating dosage, and procedures you can safely do at home such as draining an abscess, giving a shot, hydrating with subcutaeneous fluids or setting a bone. As we would for ourselves or our children we will offer options for herbal and holistic care where applicable. With the variety of procedures you can safely do at home in mind, we’ll guide through what to gather for your urban farmer first aid kit. finally we will take as many questions as possible until the time runs out.

Home Butchering: Fowl
Sunday; July 13 2014, 11am-3pm
Sunday September 21, 2014 11am-3pm
Teacher: Jim Montgomery & K.Ruby Blume
Location: West Berkeley
Cost: $70 - 105
sliding scale plus $5 supply fee to be paid on day of class
As people who are used to getting our meat in the freezer section of the grocery store, one of the big questions about raising animals for meat is…Can I do it? Can I slaughter and process my own? This introduction to butchering addresses not only the why and how of it, but the deeper aspects of what it means to take life for our own sustenance and how to do it with the least suffering on the part of the animal.In this class we will learn to slaughter humanly including dispatching plucking and dressing the birds. We will talk about recipes for older birds, uses for organ meats and hygenic handling of meat. There will be a demonstration, hands-on experience of wielding the knife. For a more detailed leson on sectioning, deboning and cooking see our follow up class:

Home-Scale Aquaponics and Organic Hydroponics
Seeking Instructor TBA
Cost: $35-65
sliding scale
Learn to garden without the use of expensive and environmentally taxing fertilizers! This class will introduce you to the theory and practice of low-tech home-scale aquaponics, a system of raising fish and plants together in a symbiotic relationship, where each supports the other. With an established, functional low tech system as our guide, we'll learn how it all works, including types of fish and plants well suited to the system, options for assembling your own home system from readily available materials and troubleshooting. You will receive a resource list and plans to take home.

Micro-Farming: Quail
Saturday May 10, 2014 10am-12:15pm

Saturday July 26 10am-12noon
Instructor: K.Ruby Blume
Location: North Oakland
sliding scale
Perhaps you like the idea of chickens and having your own eggs, but don't have the space for them. Quail can be raised in a small space, as little as 2 x 3 square feet and are one of the best "protein converters" around. For about $30 cost per season, you can have 15-25 dainty little eggs every week. The more adventurous can hatch their own fertile eggs and eat their quail for dinner. Quail can be kept on a balcony or on a porch, are not a lot of work and are a great way for kids to learn appreciation for farm animals.

Native Bees & Native Plants: Pollination to the People

Saturday July 19, 2014 10am-2pm
Instructor: K.Ruby Blume
Location: North Oakland
Cost: $35-65
sliding scale
This is an introduction to pollination ecology, the wild world of bees and pollinator friendly gardening for folks who are curious and want to nurture an awareness for these beloved hardworking critters. There are over 25,000 species of bees worldwide, 4000 in the US and 1000 in California. We will learn about the lifecycles and biology of honey bees, and native bees, the differences between the two, the special relationship between bees and flowers and what you can provide to support more bee and insect life in your garden. We learn to how to tell the difference between a bee, a wasp and a fly and how to identify a few of our local native bees. We will also introduce the idea of api-centric beekeeping and offer possibilities for natural beekeeping. We'll taste some honey, observe both honey bees and native bees at work, and get the lowdown on Colony Collapse Disorder.


Urban Goat Farming
Sunday August 3 11am-3pm
Instructor: Jim Montgomery
Location: West Berkeley

$35-70 sliding scale
Meet the goats at Green Faerie Farm and learn what you need to start an urban goat dairy. We will discuss the various breeds of goats, their strengths and weaknesses and practicality for different uses as well as issues specific to goats as ruminants. We will learn about goats' minimal needs and how to keep their lives vibrant and happy. This will include nutrition and preventative health measures, pen design and equipment, breeding and raising young. We will also talk about the process and equipment needed to run a small dairy including handling milk and dairy products that can be easily produced on a small scale.

Urban Rabbitry: Raising Rabbits for Fun, Food, Fertilizer & Fur
Sunday August 17, 2014 10am-1pm
Instructor: Jim Montgomery or K.Ruby Blume
Location: Berkeley
sliding scale
Raising Rabbits is an excellent way to include animals on a small urban farm with limited space. They provide lean meat, fur and ample fertilizer for your garden. This class will cover the basics to get started with your own urban rabbitry. We will meet the rabbits at Green Fairies Farm and learn how to safely handle them. We will discuss approaches to housing rabbits, feeding and breeding, what to look for in choosing rabbits, available breeds and uses for each breed. We will learn how rabbits can be integrated into an urban garden and what other species complement them. Resources for continuing your learning, including books and online communities will be included.
It is highly recommended to take Rabbit Butchering & Tanning Demonstration as a compliment to this class.

Rabbit Butchering and Tanning Demonstration
Saturday October 18, 2014 10am-2pm
K.Ruby Blume

Cost: $40-70
sliding scale
Following a tour of the rabbitry and a brief discussion on the benefits of rabbits as urban livestock we will demonstrate humane slaughter and dressing. Also included will be ideas for preparation of both rabbit meat and organ meats. Then the instructor will take you through a step by step demonstration of the tanning process. Some hands-on will be possible. It is highly recommended to take Raising Rabbits as a compliment to this class.

Community Design Clinic: Urban Animals
Tuesday July 22, 6:30-9:30pm
Cost: $5-25
suggested donation, no one turned away.
Location will be announced in our July Newsletter or contact us for location.
Join others from the community to sip a glass of wine or tea and talk about the joys and concerns of keeping urban livestock. We'll have a couple of our instructors on hand to facilitate and answer questions on a wide variety of critters including chickens, goat, rabbits, chickens, turlles squab and quail.