Events

We offer workshops on a variety of topics. We are currently accepting proposals for workshops taught by local experts. If you have experience in a traditional or sustainable technology and would like to earn a little money while sharing your skills, please contact us.

Upcoming Workshops

Some of the below workshops have dates, but join as a member to get a discount and/or subscribe our our listserv to be notified when signup is possible.

Apr. 9
2022
Refurbishing Antique Tools (Schumacher Farm)This class will be an active, hands-on workshop refurbishing tools from rusted to ready to use.  Rust removal, re-grinding, sharpening, rehelving, what to look for in purchasing antique tools and what supplies are necessary to upkeep and refurbish tools at home will be covered.  This workshop will focus on the needs and interests of the class attendees, so bring your tools to work on!  This course will not cover fine reconditioning for valuable antiques, this is about making user tools useful again. Participants should indicate what types of tools they plan to bring to help us have the right materials on hand. Additional tools will be available for practice.
9:00a-2:00p$15
Apr. 16
2022
Learn to Spin WoolIn this workshop, participants will learn to card and spin wool from a cleaned fleece, suitable for crochet, knitting, or weaving. We will use fleeces sourced from the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival Fleece Show for this class, which will be processed from washed wool into roving by carding in the morning. After a brown-bag lunch, participants will learn to spin their roving into yarn. The class will be led by master spinner and fleece judge, Holin Kennen, of the Victorian Technology Institute.
TBD$TBD
Apr. 17
2022
Planting, Grafting, and Pruning Apple TreesApples are one of the world’s most popular fruit trees, but they are especially important in American history. At previous times, the government required homesteaders to plant an apple orchard to prove their investment in their land. The prohibitionist’s axe was for cutting down apple trees, as cider was as popular as beer up until that time period. Wisconsin is a great apple-growing environment and in this workshop, you’ll learn the basics of grafting and pruning apple trees.
TBD$TBD
Jul.–Aug.
2022
Flax to LinenIn this two- or three-part workshop, participants will learn to harvest, process, and spin flax plants into linen thread suitable for weaving. We have a small flax plot that we’ll be harvesting by mid-summer. Join us and learn to harvest this easy-to-grow plant and then walk through the steps to turn it from a dried stalk into loose fibers and then thread. Over three weekends, we’ll cover growing, retting, breaking, scutching, hackling, making a strick, dressing a distaff, and spinning.
TBD$TBD
Jul.
2022
Harvest and Process Wheat and Rye by HandIn late July, we will harvest wheat and rye using scythes and sickles. Then it will get tied into sheaves and stood up in shocks to dry. We’ll thresh already dry sheaves to remove the grains from the heads, and then winnow to remove the wheat from the chaff. Once cleaned, the wheat berries will be ground into flour. You’re invited to come and join us and bring home some rye flour for yourself.
TBD$30
Aug.
2022
Introduction to ThatchingWe will be thatching a small garden shed with wheat straw. In this introduction, you’ll be introduced to the basic concepts of thatching and will practice on a ground-level roof mock-up. We may work on the actual roof, but the learning curve is steep and we can’t do much but scratch the surface here in a day. Participants will be welcome to come and do more thatching throughout the fall.
TBD$TBD

Previous Workshops

03 Dec 16 — Bread Baking
22 Apr 17 — Beehive Inspection
13 May 17 — Basic Carpentry
29 Jul 17 — DIY Solar Water Heating
12 Aug 17 — DIY Solar Water Heating
28 Oct 17 — Cordial Making
29 Oct 17 — Walipini Greenhouse I: Foundation and Earthbags
04 Nov 17 — Walipini Greenhouse II: Earthbags
11 Nov 17 — Snowshoe Building
12 Nov 17 — Walipini Greenhouse III: Earthbags and Superstructure
02 Dec 17 — Venison Butchery
18 Feb 18 — Knife Sharpening
24 Feb 18 — Flintknapping
03 Mar 18 — Maple Sugaring
25 Mar 18 — Nukadoko – Traditional Japanese Pickles
22 Apr 18 — Apple Planting, Grafting, and Pruning
28 Apr 18 — Garden Tool Use and Care
12 May 18 — Basic Carpentry, Aldo Leopold Bench
18–20 May 18 — Working Zen Retreat
26 May 18 — Grape Vine Establishment and Care
28 Jul 18 — Shibori, Japanese Fabric Dying
22 Sep 18 — Mite-Tolerant Bee-Breeding Program Field Day
27 Jan 19 — Beeswax Food Wraps
1–2 Jun 19 — Skill Share Classes: Rocket Stove Construction, Basic and Improving Scything, Knife and Tool Sharpening, Backyard Permaculture and Sacred Space, Spoon Carving, Shiitake and Wincap Mushroom Growing
05 Oct 19 — Installing Solar Panels
19 Oct 19 — Prairie-Seed Gathering
25 Jul 20 — Harvesting and Processing Wheat by Hand
18 Oct 20 — Prairie-Seed Gathering
Jun–Aug 21 — Timber Framing and Thatching Work Days
Jul–Aug 21 — Flax to Linen
17 Jul 21 — Harvesting Wheat By Hand
Oct 21 — Learn to Spin: Fleece to Yarn

Information for Instructors

You send us an email at lowtechinstitute@gmail.com with your name, contact info, a 2–4 sentence description of the course, your qualifications, some possible dates, and suggested price. Also please note what type of facilities you’d need on hand (e.g., work benches, chairs, outdoor space, and audio/visual set ups). Once we’ve got the details hammered out, the institute staff will promote the workshop on local social networks, take reservations and fees, and get everything set up for the course. You come out, teach the course, and head home with $25-50 per class hour (dependent on attendance) plus reimbursement for direct costs (e.g., handouts, samples, take-home items for students). For example, if you teach a sold-out three-hour class on tying flies and provide $25 worth of tying supplies, you’d head home with $175 ((3 hr × $50/hr) + $25). We will work together to decide on the cost of the class and minimum number of attendees. For our part, we provide insurance, space and infrastructure for the class, reservation coordination, fee collection, and staff hours to advertise, coordinate, prepare, and facilitate.

Transition Series

The institute is committed to supporting the skills we need as individuals and communities to be self-sufficient without major fossil-fuel inputs. In that light, we’re looking for instructors to teach courses on skills in the rubric found here. For example, these can range from caring for and raising animals to planning gardens and propagating plants, building skills and home water systems, and permaculture and energy audits. Really any skill that is useful on a homestead — and there are many — would be welcome. Please read the transition description and contact us to pitch your class and see below for how it works to teach a class with us.