2017 Conference Report

In a few words: A good time was had by all! 

But maybe the best report is that of those who came, and experienced, and enjoyed, and were blessed. See their testimonies below. We will add more as they are sent in...

Recordings at the bottom of this page


Open guest speakers panel 


More than 150 people enjoyed the Cultivate 2017 experience

In their own words...

“I love gardening, country living, and learning lessons from God’s creation. And this is what Cultivate is all about… and more!

"I came to Cultivate to learn more about growing things and God’s plan for agriculture as well as network with likeminded people. This is indeed what I experienced. I learned so many new and amazing things, particularly about the science of the soil. What was especially inspiring to me was to see how God is truly teaching people today how to work the soil - and the soil of the heart - so that it will yield its treasures.

"Opportunities for networking and sharing ideas, knowledge and experiences were rich and plentiful. If anyone has even an inkling of interest in this area, I would say "Come to the next one!”

- Kaysie -

"Cultivate conference was a great motivator for us. Life begins in the soil and getting the soil right is a key to healthy plants.

"No matter how much one has done gardening, Cultivate made one realise that there is so much more to learn. Seeing how other families have done it or are doing it and learning from each other and sharing with each other was also a big plus and a highlight of attending Culitivate.

"The only down side of Cultivate was that we would like to have attended EVERY meeting in EVERY stream, but having the different streams really helped us to be able to choose lectures that really met our needs and interests.

"Gardening is one of the most rewarding things to do in life and there is no greater joy than serving a meal "all from the garden!"

"Thank you for organising such a great conference!”

- Greg & Leanne -

"Cultivate 2017 was a huge blessing to me and my family in that it laid a foundation under our feet that we did not know was missing!

"We discovered the true science of God's design for soil to be the foundation of our health when underlying deficiencies and unbalances are addressed, just like our own personal need to allow God to correct our underlying character faults so that He can bring forth good fruit in our lives.

"Exciting stuff! A growth journey with God"

- Ben M -


Edwin Dysinger presenting the Home Gardening seminar stream


Rod Bailey demonstrating a range of market garden tools


Justin Epps thanking God that plants can't read! (Sabbath service)


Ben Meldt discussing how the Mount Gravatt ADRA Garden has impacted their community


David Afele discussing how farming has been made part of the Kempsey Adventist School program and how it has impacted their students and community 


Post-conference practicum in the Eastward Garden - participants and instructors


Post-conference practicum in the Eastward Garden - seeding in the seedling house


Post-conference practicum in the Eastward Garden - transplanting seedlings


 Post-conference practicum in the Eastward Garden - potato and garlic harvest


Did I Enjoy Cultivate 2017?

Yes, I did enjoy the first Cultivate Conference… it was a great opportunity to learn many new things about how to grow food successfully, following God’s principles, as well as a time to relax and catch up with friends new and old!  Nice memories of interesting presentations, great food, and a beautiful beach for a morning and evening walk.

I have to confess though, that sometimes (maybe often?) I learn new things, but tend to be a bit slow to put them into practise.  Well this time the conference did rub off on me more than some of the training events I have attended from the past … so my garden looks quite different this year.  Rows that are more manageable, tools that are so much more efficient (like the stirrup hoe), and finally I have put some time and effort into irrigation systems. Yes, it is relaxing to hold a hose, but if you are serious about a home garden then that tends to take just too much time, especially during these drought-like times we are in.  Of course it has helped that we have finally moved to a new area that has great soil.

Last year at Cultivate I attended the market gardening stream (very interesting and informative), but I would have liked to have attended all of the streams. I’m thinking this year I will attend the soil health sessions, to start to rev up plant growth and health a bit more.  

While I am mentioning the training streams, I think it is worth saying a quick “thank you” again to our international brothers and sisters that flew in to help us last year. Research and development in small scale productive gardening has unearthed a world of new discoveries, knowledge, techniques and systems, so it is a real privilege to have experts in the area come all that way to share with us… but also to hear the Godly principles behind what they are sharing, as well as personal testimonies on what agriculture has done for them and their families.  Testimonies about blessings like character growth, opportunity to behold God’s power in the garden, and the health that comes with outdoor work.

Many of you are aware of a quote written a long time ago, where it was said that “Fathers and mothers who possess a piece of land and a comfortable home are kings and queens”.  It has taken me a long time to realise that this doesn’t just mean “living in the country”, but also having a functioning garden right now. 

I suspect many of you realise that the food we get in the typical food retail outlet is not anywhere near as fresh as what kings and queens are eating.  So it seems fair to me that to live like a king or queen in the country means taking advantage of its treasures… and of course we know that this is also part of the remedy for sin, to work by the sweat of the brow.  There is a time of trouble ahead where we will not be able to buy or sell, so let’s be home food production experts now!

Praise God He promises that our bread and water will be sure, but praise Him also for giving us a part to act that helps us in our journey to the promised land!

So anyway, I just wanted to write this little piece to encourage you to come along this year to the 2018 Cultivate Conference at its beautiful Yarrahappinni location, where I am sure you will find many blessings, important and useful information, friendly people, and an encouraging spiritual environment.  And don’t forget to tell your friends about it.

- Paul Pannekoek -

The Program

(to show you what you may have missed out on!)

Wednesday November 29

4:00 - 8:30 Registration open

6:00 - 6:45 Supper

7:00 - 8:30 Welcome and Keynote Address: Darren Greenfield - What a Journey, No Regrets

Thursday November 30

6:00 - 6:25 Prayer Time

6:30 - 6:50 Morning Devotional: Justin Epps - Christ Our Example

7:00 - 7:45 Breakfast

8:15 - 9:15 Main Meeting: John and Pam Dysinger - Our Ebenezer

9:30 -11:30 Seminar 1

11:45 -12:45 Seminar 2

1:00 - 1:45 Lunch 

2:00 - 4:00 Seminar 3

4:15 - 5:15 Seminar 4

6:00 - 6:45 Supper

7:00 - 8:30 Main Meeting: Alan Fisher - Ellen White and the Avondale Agricultural Experience

Friday December 1

6:00 - 6:25 Prayer Time

6:30 - 6:50 Morning Devotional: Theressa Wood - The Secret

7:00 - 7:45 Breakfast

8:15 - 9:15 Main Meeting: Edwin Dysinger - The Garden Paradigm: Dominion in the Image of God

9:30 -11:30 Seminar 5

11:45 -12:45 Seminar 6

1:00 - 1:45 Lunch 

2:00 - 3:00 Seminar 7

3:15 - 4:15 Seminar 8

6:00 - 6:45 Supper

7:00 - 8:30 Main Meeting: Whitmar McConnell - Seeing What You Look At

Sabbath December 2

6:00 - 6:25 Prayer Time

6:30 - 6:50 Morning Devotional: Darren Greenfield - The Earth Filled with His Glory

7:00 - 7:45 Breakfast

8:45 - 10:45 Main Meeting: Edwin and Jennifer Dysinger - Missionary Families/Farmers

11:00 - 12:15 Main Meeting: Justin Epps - Thank God Plants Can't Read

12:30 - 1:15 Lunch

2:00 - 3:15 Beach walk

3:30 - 5:00 Main Meeting: Loren Engelbrecht - Thy Father Calls Thee: Honey Bee's Seven Steps to Successful Service

6:00 - 6:45 Supper

7:00 - 8:30 Main Meeting: John Dysinger - The Seed Has Germinated, But What Will Be the Fruit?

Sunday December 3 

6:00-6:25 Prayer Time

6:30-6:50 Morning Devotional: Theressa Wood - Growing... in the Dark

7:00-7:45 Breakfast

8:15-9:15 Main Meeting: Loren Engelbrecht - Have You Counted the Cost? Practical Principles of Business Management

9:30-11:30 General Forum: John Dysinger (Moderator, and Panel)

11:45 -12:45 Main Meeting and Close: Darren Greenfield - The Great Commission Enhanced!

1:00 -1:45 Lunch and Depart


Conference Seminars

Our seminars are arranged in subject streams to cater for special interests. Each is designated as being a Beginner Class, an Intermediate Class, or an Advanced Class, but you are welcome to attend any Seminar at any time.

Stream 1: Families in Agriculture (Various presenters)

Stream 2: Country Living (Various presenters)

Stream 3: Home Gardening (Edwin & Jennifer Dysinger)

Stream 4: Market Gardening (John Dysinger + Darren Greenfield)

Stream 5: Soil Fertility - Complete and Balanced (Whitmar McConnell + Ian Mot)

You can choose to follow a single stream, or to pick and choose any seminar or workshop from any stream!

Seminar 1 - Thursday 9:30 -11:30

Families in Agriculture/Home Gardening (Hour 1): Edwin and Jennifer Dysinger - Communing with God in the Garden B

Families in Agriculture (Hour 2): Pam Dysinger - True Education and the Agrarian Life B

Home Gardening (Hour 2): Edwin Dysinger - Where Should we Put the Garden? B

Country Living: Justin and Yvette Epps - Country Living: The Why, How, Where, When and Who? B

Market Gardening (Hour 1): John Dysinger - A Perfect Fit: Why Adventists Should be Market Gardening I

Market Gardening (Hour 2): John Dysinger - On Your Mark, Get Set, Go! - Resources to Get You Out of the Starting Blocks I

Soil Fertility: Whitmar McConnell - Defining the Model: Using Biblical & Scientific Principles/Illustrations to Establish the Ideal Soil A

Seminar 2 - Thursday 11:45 - 12:45

Families in Agriculture: Theressa Wood - Lessons from the Orchard B

Country Living: Darren Greenfield - Food Grows where Water Flows B

Home Gardening: Edwin Dysinger - More than “Just Dirt”: What Makes a Good, Healthy Soil B

Market Gardening: John Dysinger - Market Gardening ABC’s: Looking at the Basic Building Blocks of the Market Garden. I

Soil Fertility: Whitmar McConnell - Chemistry (Pt. 1): pH, Key Nutrient Elements, Levels, Relationships, Impact on Growth/Life A

Seminar 3 - Thursday 2:00 - 4:00

Families in Agriculture: Jana Meldt - Family Health Care from the Garden B

Country Living: Will Pullen/Andy Hopkins - Banana and Avocado Orchard Walk B

Home Gardening: Edwin Dysinger - Doctoring the Soil: Compost, and the Difference between Organic and Synthetic Fertilisers B

Market Gardening (Hour 1): John Dysinger - A(rtichokes) to Z(ucchini): The Most Profitable Crops for Market Gardeners I

Market Gardening (Hour 2): John Dysinger - What Do I Do With All This Produce?: Finding Good Homes for all Your veggies I

Soil Fertility (Hour 1): Whitmar McConnell - Chemistry (Pt.2): pH, Key Nutrient Elements, Levels/Relationships, Impact on Growth A

Soil Fertility (Hour 2): Whitmar McConnell - Air (Pt. 1): Porosity & Air Exchange in the Soil, Achieving Optimum Conditions A

Seminar 4 - Thursday 4:15 - 5:15

Families in Agriculture: Jennifer Dysinger - Food Preservation B

Country Living: Tim and Andy Hopkins - The Chainsaw  B

Home Gardening: Ed Dysinger - The Original Garden “Tool”: Seeds - Their Significance, GMO/Hybrid/Heirloom/Open Pollinated?  B

Market Gardening: Marketing Forum - Rod Bailey (Moderator, and Panel): Experience and Ideas on the Cutting Edge  I

Soil Fertility: Whitmar McConnell - Air (Pt. 2): Porosity & Air Exchange Soil, Achieving Optimum Conditions, Impact on Growth/Life A

Seminar 5 - Friday 9:30 -11:30

Families in Agriculture: Mum's Forum - Theressa Wood (Moderator, and Panel): Practical. Real. Honest. B

Country Living: Alex Murchison - Small Motors: Use, Choice, and Maintenance  B

Home Gardening (Hour 1): Edwin Dysinger - The Sower Went Out to Sow: Direct Seeding and Transplanting  B

Home Gardening (Hour 2): Edwin Dysinger - And Some Fell Among Weeds: Different Techniques for Weed Management  B

Market Gardening (Hour 1): John Dysinger - Tools of the Trade: Tools and Equipment to Increase Ease and Efficiency  I

Market Gardening (Hour 2): John Dysinger - Pardon Me, Your Weeds are Showing!: 12 Tips to Avoid Embarrassment  I

Soil Fertility (Hour 1): Whitmar McConnell - Water: Holding Ability & Mobility (Capillarity), Water Quality, Impact on Growth/Life  A

Soil Fertility (Hour 2): Whitmar McConnell - Carbon Fertility: Importance, Three Ways to Increase, How it Impacts Growth/Life  A

Seminar 6 - Friday 11:45 - 12:45

Families in Agriculture: Jennifer and Pam Dysinger - Raising Entrepreneurial Evangelists B

Country Living: Alex Murchison - Intro to Welding B

Home Gardening: Edwin Dysinger - “Kill them!”: Are You Sure? Dealing with Pest and Disease Issues Organically B

Market Gardening: Darren Greenfield: Sweet What? Potato and Basil!  I

Soil Fertility: Ian Mot - Magnificent Design: The Role of Soil Nutrients in the Plant I

Seminar 7 - Friday 2:00 - 3:00

Families in Agriculture/Country Living: Country Living Forum - Rod and Desley Bailey (Moderators, and Panel) B

Home Gardening: Edwin Dysinger - Plant Support: Different Systems for Watering, Trellising, and Harvesting  B

Market Gardening: John Dysinger - Systems, Systems, Systems: The Keys to Profitability  I

Soil Fertility: Whitmar McConnell - Biology: “Unseen Agencies” - the Soil Food Web and its Impact on Growth/Life. A

Seminar 8 - Friday 3:15 - 4:15

Families in Agriculture/Country Living: Country Living Forum - Rod and Desley Bailey (Moderators, and Panel) B

Home Gardening: Edwin Dysinger - Simple and economical ways to extend your growing season + Q & A B

Market Gardening: John Dysinger - Filling in the Blanks: Q&A  + Where Do We go From Here? I

Soil Fertility: Whitmar McConnell - Environmental Influences: How They Impact the Soil and Growth/Life, How to Modify/Buffer  A

Speakers/Workshop facilitators

Rod and Desley Bailey operate The Eastward Garden (the agriculture arm of Eastward Missions) with their youngest 3 children in Rollands Plains, NSW. They sell their veggies at a weekly market in Port Macquarie, and directly to families in their region. Coming to market gardening late, they have been greatly blessed by the wealth of experience and practical information of past AdAgrA conferences, and desire to see the Adventist agriculture movement take off in Australia.

John and Pam Dysinger have had the amazing privilege of raising their family of five children on Bountiful Blessings Farm in Tennessee, USA. For the past 20 years their family has worked together growing organic produce and supplying CSA’s, Farmer’s Markets, Restaurants, and wholesale accounts. Although they love the challenges and rewards of growing healthy food, their passion is encouraging others to experience the blessings of an agrarian life. John and Pam have been involved with the Adventist Agricultural Association (AdAgrA) since it’s germination.

Edwin and Jennifer Dysinger have been family farming with their children, in partnership with Edwin’s brother John and their family, for the past 10 years at Bountiful Blessings Farm in Tennessee, USA. Previously they worked for 16 years doing community based development work in Africa and the Middle East. They recently returned from an exploratory trip to Tanzania and Uganda where they plan to spend most of next year setting up farms for orphanages. Edwin works with his son Paul on his online organic garden training (, and is involved with the Adventist Agriculture Association (AdAgrA) in the USA.

Justin and Yvette Epps moved to the country in 1998 to a secluded off-grid haven surrounded by National Park. Then, in 2007, God called them to be rid of their mortgage, leading them further afield to a bush property on the western slopes of the Snowy Mountains near Tumbarumba, NSW. They are again off-grid, and currently owner building. Justin is a qualified horticulturist with a background in urban horticulture and organic farming. Yvette's background is in biological science, and left that career to homeschool their two children, Lucinda (19) and Josiah (15).

Alan Fisher is a keen researcher of church history, and as a Cooranbong local, has long had a special interest in the establishment of Avondale College under the guidance of Ellen White, and her counsels on agriculture

Darren Greenfield farms at Weimar Institute in California USA, and also teaches agriculture. His passion is to see agriculture return to God’s intended position as foundational to true education. Originally from across the ditch (NZ), Darren is currently Chairman of the Adventist Agriculture Association (AdAgrA).

Tim and Andy Hopkins (TAndy) love all plants, but especially prickly ones and trees - VERY tall trees! Hailing from the professed Promised Land of Victoria, TAndy have turned their parent’s small property in Launching Place into a veritable Garden of Eden, planting a huge variety of trees and other plants. Their favourite pastimes are climbing the giant Sequoias near Warburton, picking and eating pecans, and selling truth filled literature door to door throughout Australia. Tim and Andy lead Eastward Mission’s Youth Canvassing teams.

Rodney McCallum was a farmer and grazier from Warrumbungle in NSW, but who was later called to minister to Muslims in the US where he has been based in Detroit, Michigan, and then to Islamic communities in other locations around the world, including Australia.

Whitmar McConnell, along with his wife Lisa and their family, has been growing veggies using complete and balanced fertility for 25 years. They grow intensively and use several different climate modification techniques to extend the season and improve quality and yields. Currently Whitmar is in his fourth year of developing a new farm in Kentucky USA, while also doing soil fertility consulting for other farms.

Ian Mot studied a Batchelor of Agriculture at the University of Melbourne with a focus on soil fertility, plant pathology and plant nutrition. He is a passionate gardener at several market gardens, and is beginning a career in agronomic farm services.

Alex Murchison is an electrician and jack of all trades who loves putting his time and skills to work helping people in the community. He lives with his family in Rollands Plains, NSW.

Will Pullen and his wife Rachel grow organic bananas and avocados just up the road from our Conference venue, including some new trees planted by the "EGW method". A second generation grower, Will markets his exceptional fruit exclusively at a Sunday market in Port Macquarie, and has developed an extremely loyal customer base. Will and Rachel are very active in their community and local church.

Theressa Wood and husband Paul (and four boys) praise God for recently blessing them with a 'home among the gumtrees' in Collombatti, NSW.  Theressa is a very passionate gardener who is happiest when she has dirt under her fingernails!  Currently the family team is working together settling in an new orchard with plans for a decent family-sized vegetable garden soon.

Subscribe to Cultivate News


{{ $parent.thankyou }}

VENUE: Yarrahappini Youth Centre NSW

Seventy-five acres of rainforest and bushland situated at Grassy Head, half way between Sydney and Brisbane. With private access to the beach there is no excuse not to take long walks along the beach or on the boardwalk through the rainforest. For those who enjoy photography there is an abundance of bird and wildlife.

Contact Us

Privacy Policy | Terms of Service I Contact

ABN: 16 875 537 122


Subscribe to Cultivate News


{{ $parent.thankyou }}
{{ item.message }}