After a pretty slow winter in Williamson, activity is finally starting to pick up again at the Ramella Park & Community Garden of Eatin’. Last weekend marked the beginning of our first annual agriculture workshop series. Postponed from the beginning of the month due to snow, we were finally able to hold our first workshop on February 23rd, on what turned out to be a beautiful day at our community garden.
Since this was the first workshop of the series, and one that was postponed, I was a bit worried about what attendance rates would be like. As the local food systems coordinator, and site coordinator for Grow Appalachia in Williamson, it is my responsibility to conduct outreach for these events. Naturally, after only about 12-15 people had officially confirmed beforehand, I was preparing for the worst.
So when 30 people showed up on the day of the event, I was in awe.
The workshop, led by a local landscape architect Ingrid Curry, introduced participants to plant propagation methods, which focuses on growing plants from cuttings. Curry also led us through a step-by-step procedure on how to construct a miniature greenhouse for under $30.
Not only was I impressed and pleased by the number of participants, but by the diversity of the crowd. Of the group, there were 5 local farmers, a couple who was deeply involved in aquaponics and interested in expanding and adopting new growing techniques, about 10 individuals who maintain their own garden every year, and several others who took the opportunity to socialize with other community members and engage themselves in a new activity.
While I knew many of the farmers personally, and had been introduced to several other individuals who had participated in local food activities in the past, the remaining audience members were newcomers. This was a great feat for our first workshop, and extremely encouraging! It was amazing to see the attentiveness of the audience during the presentation, and to watch them scan the rows of our high tunnels afterward, helping to pick their own produce for purchase.
Currently in the high tunnels we have a variety of winter greens, radishes, beets, etc. and it was the perfect opportunity to promote healthy eating within the community.
This is the first of 5 workshops at the community gardens this spring, and I believe that after this turnout, and now with improvements made possible by funding from Grow Appalachia, that our educational series will continue to expand and impact the community.
There is also some additional exciting advancements regarding Williamson food projects this month, as we are about to be positioned in a national campaign. On March 1st, there will be a campaign launch in an effort to raise support for projects of the Sustainable Williamson initiative (www.sustainablewilliamson.org), which includes local food projects.
Updates on this campaign, as well as our workshop series and other garden activities will be detailed in our next blog!