Connecting communities to affect positive food system change from the ground up.

Food & Soil Advocacy   •   Consulting   •   Education   •   Community Organizing   •   Zero Waste

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"I love to talk about bugs, soil health, water quality, gardening, and composting, pretty much wherever I go!" ~ Cat

Cat's usual topics are listed below. She's always working on connecting wholes and creating something new. Custom topics can be arranged in advance. All classes and presentations are 1.5-2 hours in length which usually includes time for discussion. To book a class or a presentation, contact Cat Buxton at

Common Class & Presentation Topics


Applying Soil Health Principles Everywhere
What would happen if we shifted the paradigm of how people interface with the land? Can we as land managers help to slow water down, deepen watersheds, increase biological soil health and create conditions for thriving ecosystems? When we listen carefully to nature, we are shown what is possible. This presentation will leave you inspired to get involved in your own backyard, schoolyard, and public lands to deepen the roots of security and community resilience for future generations. Engaging powerpoint with Q&A.

Attracting Beneficial Insects: Promoting Diversity Above and Below the Ground
We’ll talk about weeds and bugs, both beneficials and pests. Learn the difference, how to identify them, and about systems you can put in place to foster an environment to support a balanced diversity of their populations in your yard and garden without synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. Topics include: common garden pests and organic controls, beneficial insects and companion plants, design elements for insects, responsible integrated pest management. Engaging powerpoint with Q&A.

Building Soil from the Ground Up aka Building the Soil Carbon Sponge
Learn about building soil through enhancing photosynthesis, capturing water, alternatives to tilling soil, and other systems for enabling the soil micro biome to flourish and vastly improve nutrient uptake in plants. Learn simple techniques for building up the soil carbon sponge in your lawn, the vegetable and flower beds, and in the orchard. We’ll discuss the basics of techniques like composting, compost teas and extracts, incorporating cover crops and green manures, hugelkultur, mulching, and using plant guilds to support ecosystem services and bank nutrients.

Land Listener Workshops with the Soil Carbon Coalition
Curious about how to see a landscape as a whole system? Do you want to understand and track the impact of grazing and land management on soil health, watershed function, soil carbon, and public health?
This participatory daylong workshop will give you detailed theory in whole systems landscape function, soil health principles, and the work of biology in creating the soil carbon sponge. You will also learn hands-on skills to make and upload observations to help monitor the health and function of your farm and other working lands. These include visual assessments of soil health, biological work, and water infiltration, as well as how to record repeatable geolocated observations to track changes over time and space. More info.

The Little Things: Cultivating Community Above and Below the Ground
When we listen carefully and mimic natural systems we are shown what is possible. The Little Things is about whole systems thinking and the parallels in creating conditions for thriving human and soil ecosystems. In the hour talk Cat compares her work with communities and schools to learning from our shared understanding of the soil food web and the great cycles of the sun, carbon, nutrients and water. Focusing on her work with Vermont Healthy Soils Coalition and Thetford Elementary School's edible schoolyard and compost system with integrated K-6 curriculum. Engaging powerpoint with Q&A.

Vital Signs: Tracking Soil Health
Restoration of soil health positively impacts water quality, improve nutrient density of foods, and can mitigate climate change; sequestering carbon and restoring land water cycles that can cool the planet. Learn about the soil health principles and simple ways to implement them in the backyard and beyond. We'll review an assortment of accessible tools that allow you to accurately track changes in your soil health. Preferred as an outdoor, hands-on workshop. Can be modified for indoors.

We Can Cool the Planet: Food, Water, Soil, Climate, Hope
With, Henry Swayze. Henry covers the science of the natural systems that allow for planetary cooling and Cat digs in to understanding healthy soil and watershed function and how the average person can effect change in the backyard and in the marketplace. We each go for about 30 minutes. Engaging powerpoint with Q&A.


Advanced Backyard Composting aka Family and Farm Composting
Crafting a recipe for the backyard compost system is a critical element for success in making a healthy soil amendment and for protecting wildlife and pets. Cat will give an overview of the soil food web to help you understand how and why to create compost that benefits your soil while managing kitchen and yard waste. Learn about the spectrum of practical compostable ingredients and how to construct a pile that applies principles of structure and density to ensure that your living compost can hold air and water, creating the conditions that diverse microbial populations need to thrive. Suitable for all levels of understanding, and applicable for all sizes of family and neighborhood compost systems. 2 - 3 hour outdoor workshop.

This Rots! Demystifying Compost
Reduce your trash size and smell, feed the soil and save money by composting. Learn to integrate a compost system in to your home kitchen and garden without a lot of fuss. Learn about the spectrum of possible and practical compost pile ingredients and compost bins, the role of compost in soil management, and the conflicting lists of compost do’s and don’ts. This class will cover the different management styles and recipes needed for backyard and community gardens. Can take place at any site with a compost bin. Cat’s enthusiastic and simple approach to composting will surely activate your interest and demystify the process. 2 hour outdoor workshop.

Turning Trash to Treasure - Backyard Compost 101aka Spoiled to SOIL
Reduce your trash size and smell, feed the soil, save money and the planet! Learn about the spectrum of possible and practical ways to manage trash including composting in the backyard. We’ll cover the basics of recycling, vermiculture, hugelkulture, and get into detail about compost ingredients and recipes, bin types and management systems. Cat’s enthusiastic and simple approach to composting will surely activate your interest and demystify the process. Engaging powerpoint with Q&A.

Changing the Waste Culture at School
It typically takes two years to get a handle on the systems needed to improve waste management and to affect behavior changes in both staff and students at school. This presentation takes us through the processes of source separation of recycling and organics, waste reduction initiatives, best and options for gaining compliance with Act 148: Vermont’s Universal Recycling Law, and covers the recommended timeline, steps, systems, and support that are necessary to have in place before you begin planning for composting at school.

School Composting 101

Composting at school is often the least expensive and most educationally rich option for managing food waste, enriching garden and schoolyard soil , and even managing flooding and drought! Composting is easy to do but it does require planning to ensure that everyone's comfort zone is considered. This introductory presentation includes an overview of hot composting with a focus on the best practices for planning for your compost site, bin design, and recipe development, sprinkled with a variety of curriculum connections. Bring your concerns, questions, fears, and skepticism. Cat's enthusiasm and knowledge will leave you feeling confident and inspired.

Hot Composting at School
Thetford Elementary School has a student-run hot composting system managed by 6th graders as a part of their science and math curriculum. This presentation covers the systems and structure that need to be in place to perform hot composting with a focus on the best practices for planning for your systems, compost site, bin design, recipe development, and curriculum connections.


Edible Landscaping
With a focus on edible and medicinal perennials this class will help you to plan for maximum diversity, high production, low maintenance, and year-round ecosystem services that also provide a beautiful garden landscape full of height, texture, and color, where there is always something in bloom. We’ll learn about soil health, mulching, polycultures, and community building above and below the ground. 1.5 hours, includes engaging powerpoint with Q&A. A 2 hour version can take place outdoors in your garden with a pre-event site visit.

Growing Edible Communities
Upper Valley Apple Corps plants and cares for fruit and nut trees and edible landscapes in public places throughout the Upper Valley. The fruit is free for the picking. The goal is to build skills, increase food security, and to literally deepen the roots of our community landscapes. Cat Buxton has been educating and building community around growing food and soil for 10 years in the Upper Valley. She manages the edible schoolyards and hot-compost systems at Thetford Elementary and the K-8 Newton School in Strafford, and various community projects including UV Apple Corps. Cat will share stories of the growing edibility of our public commons and discuss the stacked yield potential of these community treasures. 1.5 hours, includes engaging powerpoint with Q&A.

No-Till: Gardening Without Disturbance
As we learn about the significance of soil life we are finding out that disturbing the soil is no longer recommended but how do we learn to transition away from tillage? Cat Buxton will share the science behind no-tlll and resources and basic practices to create conditions for thriving ecosystems and employing the soil health principles to your lawn, garden and backyards to help you make the transition toward less soil disturbance with confidence.


Starting Up A Garden
Learn the basics of what to plan for when starting your garden. Class is suitable for beginning and intermediate gardeners. Topics include: Design logic, planning for succession crops, preparing soil, no-till techniques, crop rotation, frost and sun protection, hardening plants, seeding tips, timing and temperature, thinning, irrigation and using mulch. No question is a bad one; bring yours! Interactive workshop. 1.5 hours, Cat and a white board, indoors. Or, 2 hours outdoors, in your garden with a pre-event site visit.

Sow! Seeding and Transplanting
The class will suit those who have a garden space mostly set and are ready to plant, but are unsure how to proceed, are looking for new ideas, or are looking for a boost of confidence or inspiration. You’ll learn the basic steps to coax seeds and seedlings into becoming healthy productive plants and some tools and tricks to help nurture them through our often dicey New England growing conditions. Topics include: Seeding and transplanting tips, thinning, succession plantings, frost and sun protection, crop rotation, companion planting, foliar feeding and top dressing. 2 hours, outdoors, in your garden with a pre-event site visit.

Up! Staking and Pruning
Learn the timing and pruning techniques that will help you to produce stronger plants, tastier fruit, extended bloom times, and an attractive garden plot. We’ll help you feel more comfortable about when and where to slice, cut, or trim. I’ll cover several crops and will share secrets for growing amazing tomatoes. Topics include: crops to grow up, creative trellising, basic staking and training, pruning tender plants and hardy trees, thinning seedlings and fruits, continuous blooms. 2 hours, outdoors, in your garden with a pre-event site visit.

Key Gardening Moments
This talk and walk through your garden space will suit beginning to intermediate gardeners who are looking to expand their knowledge, get a boost of confidence, or be inspired to try some new tricks in the garden to maximize production. We'll identify key seasonal moments and share some tools and tricks to keep your garden thriving through our often dicey New England growing conditions. Topics to include: Amending soil, compost teas, spotting and managing pests, seeding and transplanting tips, thinning and pruning, succession planting, season extension. 1.5 hours, Cat and a white board, indoors. Or, 2 hours outdoors, in your garden with a pre-event site visit.

Extend! Cover Crops, Fall Crops, and Season Extension
The garden can get pretty wild looking in mid July, but if properly managed it will provide new, tender crops well in to autumn. We’ll show you how to fill the empty spaces with fall crops, re-energize existing growth, determine if a cover crop is right for you, and show you some tricks and tools for extending the season and curing your veggies for winter storage. Topics include: Timing the last planting, late pruning, prepare for garlic, cold hearty crops, fall cover crops, fall season extension, curing. 1.5 hours, Cat and a white board, indoors. Or, 2 hours outdoors, in your garden with a pre-event site visit.

last updated: July 2018
Contact Cat to find out about new and classic offerings!

Cat Buxton, Grow More, Waste Less - Food Systems Consulting LLC
Sharon, Vermont • website: • (802) 359 - 3330

Grow More, Waste Less   |  Food Systems Consulting, LLC  -  Cat Buxton    Sharon, Vermont   Email:

Food & Soil Advocacy   •   Consulting   •   Education   •   Community Organizing   •   Zero Waste

Connecting communities to affect positive food system change from the ground up.