For several months we've been running notices in the Outlook about gardening workshops in Brattleboro sponsored by Post Oil Solutions. The classes have proven to be very popular, and we recently contacted POS's executive director Tim Stevenson for some more details.
GMO: How many people attend?
Stevenson: Anywhere from 10 to 40 people
GMO: How would you rate the interest in these programs?
Stevenson: Very high. We've been at it now for five years with people still signing up. Next year, we're hoping to move outside of the greater Brattleboro area and move the series to another part of the region like Springfield, Charlestown, Bellows Falls, etc, so we can reach more people and limit the travel. As it is, we have people coming from Windsor, Sullivan and Cheshire Counties--even as far away as New York, Mass, and Montpelier.
GMO: What would you say were the main motivating forces in the increased interest in gardening? Financial? Quality of food? The growing interest in cooking?
Stevenson: All of the above, plus a growing awareness of how the changing times--esp. around energy depletion--necessitate that we become more sustainable, more locally-oriented, more self-sufficient. Nutrition, health and safety are also major concerns for the interest in local food and learning to grow our own.
GMO: How might you evolve this program over time?
Stevenson: Reaching out to more people, as I suggest above. The way it has evolved is going from doing random workshops to one that, over the past 2 years, is built upon the theme of eating out of our gardens 12 months of the year.
Hence, the series begins in Jan-Mar with workshops on seed starting, soil prep, a 9x12 garden for beginners, garden planning for intermediate gardeners, enriching soil, mulch, pest management, basic hand tools and cold frames; to a variety of canning and drying workshops in the summer and early fall; to lacto fermentation and root cellars in the fall; to closing with putting the garden to bed. In addition, we have backyard animal workshops in May/June that include chickens, sheep and milk goats, as well as chicken harvesting workshops in July and Sept. In the past, we've also included mushroom walks and bread making, and are considering fruit trees and bushes for the future.