Friday, March 21, 2008

Notes from the Organic Growers School

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend the Organic Growers School here in the Asheville Area. It was an amazing experience. I took three classes in the URBAN GROWING section. Two of the classes were about urban orchards and trees. These classes included specific varieties that are successfully grown organically here in Western North Carolina. I know that I will refer to these notes for years to come as they are filled with great information that I will guide my choices as I add fruit trees and fruiting shrubs to my edible landscape.
The third class was Cultivating Urban Abundance. Monica Williams was the presenter. She lives in West Asheville and gardens there on her urban lot. The course description: Urban home gardens have great potential for yielding abundant food, medicine, inspiration, and beauty. Even the most degraded lots can thrive by using the simple soil building techniques and sustainable practices presented in this session.
She encouraged us to begin with setting our intention. Her example was "My purpose is to create an abundant garden with a prayerful and grateful heart in order to heal our wounded soil." The setting of an intention helps to guide us through the choices we make throughout the life of our garden projects and shapes our vision. It can become the touchstone in times of doubt and frustration.
Next we looked at the "Blessings of the city".
  1. Moderate Climate
  2. Many Niches and Micro-climates along buildings and edges
  3. Abundant Resources.

Under Abundant Resources we explored both the people around us and the materials to be found in the city. The vast numbers of people located in the city offer us opportunity for networking, co-operative efforts, shared labor and costs.
And material resources abound.
  1. Compost-ables... leaf bags, wood chips, coffee grounds, restaurant compost, etc
  2. 5 gallon buckets
  3. firewood
  4. fencing
  5. straw
  6. construction material
  7. etc

Specific Techniques and practices for cultivating abundance:
  1. Compost
  2. Mulch beds
  3. Water catchment
  4. Winter gardens
  5. Diversified gardens
  6. Small Animals
One thing that I think that we all have in common, is the need to feel validated. This course really validated for me that I am on the right track with my garden project. The only technique listed above that is not already happening, is the bit about having small animals. Although, I have been thinking about how a goat and a few chickens would really round out the vision. I am not ready for them yet.
But everything else on her list is well underway in my urban plot.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great experience, Beth! I'm in Asheville right now on vacation (leaving later today to return to "real life" and my own gardens and chickens in PA), and it looks like a wonderful place to garden. I say, go for the chickens! I would love to have a couple of dairy goats as well--maybe some day. Meanwhile, you might enjoy reading "The Year of the Goat," a book about a couple's travels through America checking out goat farms, goat shows, etc. while preparing to take the plunge into raising goats themselves. It's inspirational! I bought it at Malaprop's yesterday and am already halfway through it.

Trudi said...

Yes, I say, go for the chickens and never look back. Mine are called Angelinas, little angels they are, providing every day wonderful, healthy eggs. You must make sure they have a run to flap their wings and have a dust bath and some grass, shade and sun, that's all.