Our last few GA workshops here at ASPI have focused on extending food production throughout at least part of the winter. During the cold frame workshop we planted out our small cold frames, distributed cover crop, discussed how to grow more traditional produce than chickweed in low tunnels and had a generally good time in the garden. We distributed donated windows and doors for cold frame construction. Folks reported back that they have built wooden, concrete, hay bale, and log frames.

If you don’t check your low tunnels on occasion, you may pull back the cover in February expecting some gourmet greens and find the most luscious crop of chickweed imaginable. While chickweed is very nutritious and makes a very healthy tea, it is not exactly what you want to see carpeting your low tunnel – especially when it may very well be growing next to the tunnel with no winter protection.

Students participating in Service Learning from the University of Notre Dame helped out with many of ASPI’s projects last week – including building a new solar dehydrator which will be available for loan to dry large batches of produce using only the Sun’s energy and rehabbing several of our solar ovens – a wonderful way to cook food cost- and pollution-free.

Though not a GA workshop, ND students met many of the GA participants during an ASPI workshop, “Preserving Herbs and Making Teas.” Students asked participants many questions about growing their own food and our participants were excellent sources! They were inspiring to students who left saying that they always wanted to make sure they lived where they could grow some of their own food and they were sharing with each other where they could find local food in their Northern Indiana region.

While the students were sad to not be able to stay for our GA potluck and awards, they helped to set up and organize the day before. I don’t blame them for looking at the set-up a little longingly – besides a good time with friends, there was a lot of tasty food. Cornbread and beans, pickled beets, potato soup, basil bread, bean curry, cowboy mash, green beans, okra brownies, chard and eggs and more! We eat from our gardens and we eat well! Although our yields weren’t quite what we expected this year, we agreed we are more peaceful, healthy, and well-stocked than ever before!