Buck up and grow something! [Urban gardening]

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Despite the impending bad weather at the last 15Thousand Farmers "Beginning Food Growing 101" workshop that took place two Saturdays ago (April 9), there was a decent dozen or so folk that turned-out to learn some food growing basics.

15Thousand Farmers is a non-profit organization created for the Louisvillian throwing around the idea of growing food for themselves, attempting to implement sustainable farming practices, or desiring to involve themselves in the "Good Food Revolution". The non-profit recently sprouted out of Heine Brothers' Coffee and the combined work of food movement organizations such as Breaking New Grounds. Gardening is a learning process and disasters happen, and the group is bent on encouraging attendees that they, too, are capable of growing their own food. The continuously offered workshops are designed to share their experience and keep up with others'. The organization believes that "every man, woman and child in  Louisville deserves access to healthful food and the resources to begin to grow some of their own."

The workshop on April 9th was led by Michelle Moran, who was gracious enough to lead this particular 15Thousand Farmers food growing workshop at her home. This workshop was the first held this year at a person's home and the first ever held on the east side of town. Michelle moved to Louisville in 1998 and said that her garden began with scratching out just a single bed. Twelve years later she still considers herself a beginner gardener, but her single garden bed has expanded into an impressive six beds with compost set-up and rain barrel watering system.

Various topics were touched upon including: raised beds, dug beds, no-dig beds, creative garden containers, seeds, transplants, plant varieties, 3-season gardening, square food gardening, how to plant, how to water, how to deal with bugs and varmints, compost, mulch, and homemade 5-gallon backyard composters. The attendees were given a stack of free gardening literature which included an outline of the workshop that allowed for more listening/participating instead of rabid note-taking. I found the Midwest planting calendar especially helpful. I found out why my radishes wither in their cartons (forget starting them as seeds--stick those suckers straight-up in the ground), how to deter some pesty bugs (throw some marigolds in the middle of the veggie patch), and how shredded junk mail makes for great compost ingredient.

Towards the end of the workshop, the attendees braved the signs of the oncoming storm, remaining rapt in the discussion outside while thunder rumbled and lightening flashed. Luckily, the sky didn't fall out until the workshop was nearly over and then we took cover in Michelle's garage and watched the hail ping the driveway over more coffee and conversation.

15Thousand Farmers will continue to have sustainable food growing workshops throughout the year, every other Saturday. The places may vary so it would be wise to check the 15Thousand Farmers website to verify the location. The next workshop is scheduled to take place this Saturday (April 23rd) at 15Thousand Farmers Growing Center at Dismas St. Ann's, 1515 Algonquin Parkway. The workshop starts at 10am and ends at 11:30am. Though composting did come up at the previous workshop, a simple backyard composting element will be added to the "Beginning Food Growing" workshop happening on April 30th. It is planned to take place 10am to 11:30am at Wallitsch Nursery and Landscaping, 2608 Hikes Lane.

In addition to the bi-monthly workshops that occur alternating Saturdays, the organization holds a celebration on none other than the 15th of each month at which attendees may partake in the local grown bounty (bring a potluck dish if you want), enjoy complimentary Heine Brothers' Coffee, discuss gardening accomplishments and challenges, and enjoy a half-hour educational ask-a-farmer session. This is also the event to pick up your Dirt Card which is a fine way to get discounts on green things around town.

Photo Courtesy of www.15thousandfarmers.com

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