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We had a wintry weekend with a few snowflakes in the air for the 19th Annual Organic Growers School. It was a special treat to be able to attend this established program for the very first time. The Growers School at the University of North Carolina in Asheville drew around 2,000 participants. What a perfect inspiration in time for spring gardening season!
|Emily Jernigan Teaching Kudzu Basketry|
Among the more unusual classes offered was Kudzu Basketry. Emily Jernigan from Living Earth School demonstrated how to turn an invasive plant into something useful.
The class offerings were so diverse and detailed that it was hard for an amateur gardener like me to get enough. I suppose a few things haven’t changed since my college days just a few (ahem) years ago; I can’t resist sitting up front and asking way too many questions. It was refreshing to attend with a diverse group of people, certainly all ages — from children who had their own separate workshops, to senior citizens. Some folks were amateur gardeners like me, while many were experienced organic farmers.
The vendor expo was another wealth of information along with the gardening product pitches. Several nonprofits were also present, such as The Lord’s Acre. This program is aiming to expand from its half-acre site to a larger, organic community garden. The program has managed to give away 15 tons of fresh food over the past three years to food banks in the greater Asheville area. Executive Director and Garden Manager Susan Sides brings her years of expertise as the former Head Research Gardener and Writer for Mother Earth News to the organization. The Lord’s Acre is in need of private donations to expand its work, renewing the Depression-era program where farm families donated produce from a single acre of their crops.
|Board Member Joyce Painter, Intern Taylor Hooper, Executive Director and Garden Manager Susan Sides The Lord’s Acre|