Grow Your Own Natural Dyes

May 13 – May 14, 2023
9 am to 5 pm


This workshop will teach the basics of growing annual and perennial plants with a focus on cultivating natural dyes. We will work with the Sanborn dye garden to learn why these plants yield the color they do, which plants grow best in our New Hampshire climate, and how to harvest the best color out of the soil. Our primary focus will be the garden’s cornerstone plants, Japanese Indigo (Persicaria tinctoria), Madder (Rubia tinctorum) and Weld (Reseda lutea). We will also cover garden classics like marigold, calendula, and some wild plants you may already have at home. This course will cover basic propagation skills, best planting practices, water and nutrient management, and harvesting. No prior gardening experience is needed for this class but all levels are welcome. Students will leave this class with starts and seeds of their own along with the confidence to begin their own natural dye garden or supplement their extant garden with new plantings. Many of the skills learned in this class have broad applications outside of natural dyes and can be used for all manner of gardening. It should be noted that we will not be making our own dyes in this class. Our focus will be on the work that goes into growing and preparing materials for the dye pot.

Skills and Techniques:

• Seed Starting
• Potting up
• Perennial division
• Planting
• Mulching
• Watering
• Fertilizing
• Harvesting
• Soil Amendment
• Botanical nomenclature
• Recognizing specific needs and culture of dye plants

Materials Fee: $50 paid at time of workshop.

Special Tools or Equipment: Please bring your own trowel and garden shears, all other tools will be provided by SMF.

Instructors COVID preference: Your instructor reserves the right to require safety requirements depending on the state of the pandemic at the time of the workshop.

Workshop Policies

Please be sure to read our policies before you register for a workshop.

Age Requirements

The minimum age to attend a regularly scheduled workshop is 16 years. We have set this age to ensure a safe, productive, and community-building experience for all of our students. There are no exceptions.

Accessibility & Accommodations

If you have questions about accessibility or would like to request reasonable accommodations, please contact our main office at 603-435-7314.

Student Cancellations

Cancellations must be made at least 30 days prior to the start date of a workshop in order to receive a refund.Registration and material costs will be refunded, minus a non-refundable $25.00 registration fee. A full refund will be made for any amount paid for overnight housing.

Sanborn Mills Farm Cancellations

Each workshop must have a minimum number of students to be held. If Sanborn Mills Farm finds it necessary to cancel a workshop, we will notify students two weeks prior to the scheduled workshop start date. A full refund will be provided to registered students. Refunds for a workshop purchased as a gift will be made to the purchaser only. Sanborn Mills Farm cannot be held responsible for any refunds for travel expenses or for off-site housing expenses incurred as the result of a cancellation of any kind.

Housing & Meals

Please refer to our housing page for more information.


Each workshop has its own safety procedures. Your instructor will review the specific safety requirements at the start of your workshop and throughout your class. Sanborn Mills Farm is a rural setting. If you are allergic to insect bites, please alert your instructor of your allergy and bring an epipen with you. For draft animal workshops or courses requiring time in the woods, be sure to review tick safety procedures from Tick Free NH. We advise students to wear comfortable clothing, comfortable and secure shoes, and consider your personal needs for a day or extended stay.